PBS SoCal finally launches a regional news show

Twitpic from the set, @KevinWinston on Twitter.

The long wait to see if PBS SoCal would ever come up with local programming to break out of its old Orange County identity is over. Sort of. Studio SoCal very quietly debuted on Friday night, as a once-weekly half-hour that re-airs three more times each week. The hosts are Rick Reiff, who hosted the station's previous OC-centric news program and is editor of the Orange County Business Journal, and Elizabeth Espinosa, the TV news figure in LA who recently has been holding a talk-show slot on KFI. Helen Kumari is the managing editor. "A smart conversation featuring Southern California thought leaders and experts discussing key issues," the station calls it. New shows will air Fridays at 7 p.m., then come back around as repeats on Sundays at 5 p.m., Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan was on the first installment. The key story was about the future of so-called "Silicon Beach," which a lot of tech executives and others don't recognize as anything more than a misleading marketing slogan. The jury has to still be out on whether the program displays any smarts about Los Angeles or Southern California — and finds more relevant talking heads to interview than Richard Riordan — and also whether it develops the substance to rival "SoCal Connected," the award-winning local news program on KCETLink. In case you forgot the history, KCET dropped its affiliation with PBS in 2010, leaving Orange County's KOCE as the default flagship for the network in Southern California. The OC station rebranded itself as PBS SoCal but until now had not offered viewers outside Orange County much reason to watch except for the popular PBS series' such as "Downton Abbey."

PBS SoCal does air The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable and LAaRT — "a unique look at the people and events involved in Arts and Culture in Southern California and beyond." Doug Kriegel, the former KNBC reporter, is also contributing occasional episodes of The Drive-By Economist. Reiff's weekly business show did start doing some LA stories after KOCE got its unofficial promotion, but "Studio SoCal" is the first attempt to produce a news and public affairs show that might appeal across the region, especially in Los Angeles County.

Here's the promo for the new weekly show:

The show has a Twitter account but has posted no tweets yet. The flackage on Studio SoCal:

PBS SoCaL, PBS for Greater Los Angeles, is premiering its new weekly news and public affairs program “Studio SoCaL” on Friday, August 8 at 7 p.m. Elizabeth Espinosa and Rick Reiff will host the weekly conversation featuring Southern California thought leaders and experts discussing key issues. The inaugural season of “Studio SoCaL” will consider issues related to the question, “Is Los Angeles the city of the past or the city of the future?”

The first episode, titled "2024: What is Southern California's future when it comes to technology?,” will feature a discussion about how different lives were in 2004 when it comes to technology. Co-Host's Rick Reiff and Elizabeth Espinosa will be joined by Former LA Mayor and venture capitalist Richard Riordan, as well as internet experts to discuss what we can look forward to in the next 10 years. PBS SoCaL's David Nazar will also explore the future of jobs in Silicon Beach.

PBS SoCaL has also named Helen Kumari as the Managing Editor for “Studio SoCaL.” Helen is a veteran journalist with over 25 years of experience in television news, including 12 years as a live on-camera reporter with a specialty in breaking news. Helen has been awarded several Emmys for her work as a writer and a reporter in the Los Angeles area. Currently, Helen has been working as a freelance L.A. Correspondent for The Boston Herald, ABC News, The New York Post and several TV shows. She has also held past roles as a reporter for CBS2, NBC4, KTLA5, FOX11, and NBC TV stations in Bakersfield and Las Vegas.

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