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Show spotlights local services

Bette McBride Ober likens her television program to an "entertaining chamber of commerce on the air."

The half-hour cable show, Talk of the Town, premiered on TCI's Channel 6 in late November.

The show spotlights businesses, professional services and restaurants in Pasco and north Pinellas counties.

"We're trying to make it a community television," Ober said. "What we want to do is give people a closer look at the professionals, businesses and service people in the community."

Ober produces the show with her husband, Arlon, a film producer and composer who has written music for dozens of commercials, documentaries and feature films. The two own High Visibility Productions, a company they operate out of their home in Port Richey.

The couple moved from Ojai, Calif., outside of Los Angeles, to Port Richey a year ago. Mrs. Ober, who ran a gift shop in Ojai, said they moved to be closer to her ailing mother, who lives in Pasco.

The idea for Talk of the Town came from friends. "We have two close friends who did a very similar show outside of Los Angeles in Manhattan Beach," said Ober, a Brooklyn native. "They were quite successful with it."

The Obers invested $20,000 of their own savings to start the show. Most of the cost is in editing.

They contracted with a company that supplies the camera equipment and film crew. They edit the film at production houses in Oldsmar and Clearwater.

"We shoot everything on location," Ober said. "I'm totally against talking heads."

The show is hosted by Trinity resident Chris Petersen, a former sportscaster from New York. Talk of the Town airs three times each day of the week, starting at 11 a.m.

Petersen interviews business owners and professionals, from eye doctors to accountants, who tout their products and services. They pay $675 to $1,000 a month for the television advertising.

But the show is more than a series of infomercials, Ober says. "I'm really trying to spotlight the personalities behind the businesses," she says.

In addition, the show also includes interviews with nonprofit groups, such as United Way and Red Cross, to talk about their services. Non-profit groups that appear on the program aren't charged, said Ober, a member of the Holiday Rotary Club and the Community Service Council.

"I'm a great believer in local programing," she said. "It gives people a sense of community."