June marks 15 years since 'Out & About Today' first aired

Posted at 9:02 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 22:02:11-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The LGBT television program Out & About Today turned 15 this June. Its launch in 2005 by NewsChannel5+ marked the first network affiliate in the country to produce a show focused on LBGT issues.

In partnership with the magazine publication Out & About Nashville, NewsChannel5+ launched the innovative show to help inform and connect with diverse viewers in the Middle Tennessee area.

When it launched in 2005, people involved in the project remembered it wasn't received well by everyone.

"It was a controversial decision and some people disagreed with it strongly. At NewsChannel5 we knew it was the right thing to do and we moved forward," said NewsChannel5 Vice President and General Manager Lyn Plantinga. Plantinga said she remembers people sent bibles to the stations, though admits that was mild compared to some of the response.

"I think part of our culture at NewsChannel5 has been valuing diversity and valuing inclusion. I think if you said today, I'm going to start a show that is designed to inform and serve the LGBT community. I think people would say that's a good idea. But this was 15 years ago, and times were different. That decision to launch that show was seen as very unusual at the time," she said.

The owner and publisher of Out & About Nashville said he remembers when Debbie Turner, who was the GM at the station at that point, approached him about the program.

"Mainly because of our reputation in the community. We'd been around for about two years and had already established as a good LGBT news source," said Jerry Jones. Jones still manages the paper with a small staff.

It's weatherd some tough times since its founding in 2002, but recently has lost 70% of its advertising due to the pandemic.

Brent Meredith is a cohost and producer for the show. He said he remembers some key events, such as the supreme court's ruling on same-sex marriage.

"15 years of not only what the paper is covering but being live at pride. Now, we weren't broadcasting live but we would show up and do a show. So, that was kind of neat," said Meredith.

The publication and show have no intention of airing any time soon. Out & About Today can be viewed on Five Plus on Fridays at 10:00 p.m., Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.

Or, shows can be viewed on this website.