Make us your home page
Instagram

New vision for Tampa's Channelside: 24-hour health and wellness TV channel

Drew Nederpelt, left, and partner Randy Gruber stand in their prospective TV studios for the Health & Wellness Channel.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Drew Nederpelt, left, and partner Randy Gruber stand in their prospective TV studios for the Health & Wellness Channel.

TAMPA — The minds behind what could be the Channel District's next big thing stand in a cavernous wasteland of dirt and concrete pilings, pointing out their sets.

Here, above the tread tracks, will be a future green room and makeup salon. There, a massive TV studio, with windows facing the cruise ships and the Towers of Channelside.

"We want to have that 'wow factor. TV is sexy,' " said Drew Nederpelt, a budding TV executive. "We're going to have celebrities flying in, coming here. . . . This will be the crown jewel."

Nederpelt's vision is the 24-hour Health & Wellness Channel, a TV network — part fitness, part home shopping — targeting the eyes and wallets of the fit and diet-minded.

On Monday, he stood in the fledgling network's planned headquarters: a 60,000-square-foot space, half the size of an average Target, on the ground floor of a two-towered condo complex, Grand Central at Kennedy.

When the four studios here open next summer, beaming programming to satellite networks like DirecTV, the station will likely employ around 100, many of them locals. Later, Nederpelt said, could come the holy grail: a spot on cable TV.

It's no coincidence the network will be across the bay from HSN, which its daytime product Marketplace will emulate. Several Health & Wellness executives cut their teeth at the Clearwater giant, as well as the Golf Channel. Nederpelt, too, is at home in the aisles, having overseen the development of Wal-mart brands like Great Value from the mega-retailer's Arkansas headquarters.

But this network of original programming would be deeply Tampa-based, with shows taped in nearby gyms and hosted by local yogis. Infomercial king Tony Little and '90s Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson will face the cameras, and downtown audiences could gather at the windows to watch the shows taped live.

That Nederpelt, the owner of a New York publishing house, would choose here for his mini-Hollywood could say something about the industrial-born Channel District, its once-barren condos now shaking off the dust.

With Channelside Bay Plaza fielding interest from big names like Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, and downtown awash in the spotlight for the Republican National Convention, Nederpelt said the district's business capacity is set to soar.

"Hopefully," Nederpelt said, "we'll be a big part of that boom."

• • •

Here's what the network has to offer: Morning exercise shows like Spin the World, a first-person cycling ride through scenic routes like the Great Wall of China. Daytime talk and cooking shows like Grocery Aisle Ambush, where shoppers are taught the error of fatty foods.

But wait, there's more: During primetime, the station will offer a medley of game shows, relationship advice and reality TV. One, a competition show likely in the vein of The Biggest Loser, is called Drop & Give Me Everything.

In the middle will be the Marketplace, five hours of models and salespeople hawking workout gear, juicers and "nutraceuticals" like vitamins and herbal cleaners. Bestsellers will be rebroadcast in that trademark of retail TV: the early morning dead zone between 2 and 5 a.m.

The key to the network's revenue is what Nederpelt calls the "cross-pollination" (and what others call product placement) of shows and stuff to buy. If viewers like a meal being cooked, they can call (now) to order not just the ingredients, but the blender, too.

"Everything they're utilizing, we sell," vice president of television operations Randy Gruber said. "Television ends up becoming a means to a sale."

Shows, Nederpelt said, will be toned toward the baby boomers, the TV-weened generation Nielsen Research predicts will soon command 70 percent of the country's disposable income. The calls to action and impulse buys that worked for HSN could no doubt help in a network many might feel healthy just turning on.

• • •

Nederpelt is clearly confident about the idea — Oprah native Dr. Mehmet Oz, he said, called it "brilliant" — but its execution is still a ways away. Building the headquarters from the dirt, including sound dampeners for nearby train tracks, will cost about $3.5 million and take half a year.

And where that money will come from remains a sticking point. Nederpelt said his network, now self-funded, is considering four investment offers to fund the operation. He turned down a $40 million investment from a New York fund in April, he said, believing it wanted too much control.

Standing between the proposed dressing rooms and editing bays, near the "Kitchen" studio and the actual kitchen and the Health Desk with sights of Channelside, Nederpelt doesn't back down on his network's ambitions of grandeur.

"We want to spread the gospel of living long, healthy lives," he said. "We want to save lives, frankly. We want to change the world."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

New vision for Tampa's Channelside: 24-hour health and wellness TV channel 08/20/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 11:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    A rendering shows what the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will look like when completed in 2019. Local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate as construction begins on the facility, the first piece of the Water Street redevelopment area in downtown Tampa. [Rendering courtesy of the USF Health]
  2. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]
  4. With successful jewelry line, Durant High alum Carley Ochs enjoys 'incredible ride'

    Business

    BRANDON

    As a child Carley Ochs played dress up, draped in her grandmother's furs.

    Founder Carley Ochs poses for a portrait in her Ford Bronco at the Bourbon & Boweties warehouse in Brandon, Fla. on September 19, 2017. Ochs is a Durant High and Florida State University graduate.
  5. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]