Smoky Mountain Morning: Vacationers can wake-up to web-based show full of ‘things to do’

Jim Johnson, Smoky Mountain Morning executive producer, looks over a shot with creator and host Taz Cable, center, and segment star Frank Murphy.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Jim Johnson, Smoky Mountain Morning executive producer, looks over a shot with creator and host Taz Cable, center, and segment star Frank Murphy.

It is a phenomenon that has to drive any tourism official crazy.

Vacationers come to town, can’t find anything to do and don’t return for a second visit.

For Taz Cable, the solution is as close as a computer keyboard.

The Greenback-native is hosting and co-producing “Smoky Mountain Morning,” a new, locally produced webcast that will be streamed live at 8 a.m. each morning, seven days a week, on www.SmokyMountainMorning.com.

The hour-long webcast will debut on June 27. To celebrate, Cable is inviting everyone to seven different launch parties at locations throughout the Smoky Mountains. The first will be from 7 to 9 a.m. Friday, May 27, at Southland Books, 801 E. Broadway Ave., Maryville.

“We’ll serve breakfast with fresh homemade granola and yogurt, sweet potato biscuits with homemade apple butter, Oliver Twist Tea, which is tea and lemonade and Benton’s bacon because we want to keep it all local,” Cable said. “We’re doing six other events to launch Smoky Mountain Morning, and Maryville is our first one.”

The inspiration for Smoky Mountain Morning started two years ago when Cable was starting his company, giddyOH! Communications, a marketing company. The idea was part of a promotions campaign for a company in Townsend. “Smoky Mountain Morning comes from a need for live video programming for folks living, playing and working in the Smoky Mountain area,” he said.

Cable said the webcast will help visitors make the most of their time in the area. “We want them to maximize their days in the Smokies,” he said, adding that often tourists come to the East Tennessee region with one destination in mind, then think they have nothing to do when that day is finished.

“Half the people who visit are first time visitors and a great number are not coing back,” he said. “I attribute that to people not getting information and not knowing what is going on.”

The show will be a way to entertain and inform tourists on activities throughout the region, but will also be informative for area residents. The first week is called “Locals Week,” said Cable, and will be to introduce locals to the idea. “Locals Week will feature local folks with programming geared to folks who live in the area, not tourists,” he said.

Betsy Cate, secretary/treasurer for giddyOH! Communications, Inc., said this new webcast will give tourists the chance to plan their trip before they ever arrive. “We want to give tourists an opportunity to sit at home and tap into this,” she said. “They can plan their vacations with this.”

Cable said the show will start with a news feature with headlines from area newspapers of interest to the Smoky Mountain traveler.

“It will have an entertaining feel to it,” he said. “We want this to be the best free show in the Smokies.”

Cate said the show will feature news and upcoming activities and events from throughout the region from Maryville and Townsend to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to Cherokee and Asheville. Any city or county bordering the National Park will be featured, Cable added.

The show will have multiple taped segments featuring a crew of on-air talent, including Frank Murphy from “Mornings with Mark, Frank and Kim” on 102.1 FM. Murphy will have a segment called “Frugal Frank” that will focus on inexpensive activities in the area for tourists and locals.

Another segment will be called “Street or Park,” with interviews of individuals either in towns and cities near the mountains or in the National Park. Those interviews will be out-and-about interviews, meeting people where they are. The segments can either have a feature focus or be educational about something visitors will find interesting or helpful.

Fitness trainer Becky Fox will host Fox Fitness. “She’ll do inspirational fitness stories,” said Cable. “We are going to start out with a ‘Tone Taz’ promotion. Viewers will be able to watch Cable’s progress as Fox trains with him and helps him get back into shape.

The Friday Night Special segment will be a 5 to 7 minute piece that will showcase different activities such as festivals and street events. On Saturdays, there will be a segment geared toward upcoming special activities and events at local churches. “It will give information about events going on at different churches in the area,” Cable said. “They’ll have that on Saturday to plan their Sundays”

Cable likens the format to a regional “Today Show” with music features and entertainment from national and local touring bands, travel tips, food and wine and “fun forecast” weather reports. “There really is nothing like this locally,” Cable said. “We aren’t talking You Tube, webcam, hand-held video productions, but real quality content and production.”

The project is advertising based for funding, with a shot-in-the-arm start-up coming through the partnership with HP Video Production, said Cable. HP Video Production is a full-service video production company in Knoxville with a wide range of experience and successes. Segments not shot on location will be shot at the HP Video studio at 1200 Broadway Ave., Knoxville.

Future plans include the possibility of taking the webcast to television screens in area hotels, cabins and other vacation spots, Cable said. “We’re going to start with streaming to ensure quality,” he said. “We’re going to stream first to get the bugs out before we go to a channel in front of millions.”

Cable said the new webcast’s tagline illustrates how he wants to folks to think of his new show. “Your day just wouldn’t be complete without it,” he said.

The launch breakfast at Southland is limited to 100 people. To reserve a spot, call Brad Lovett or Theresa Trentham at 865-978-6481.

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