Strategic expansion, grassroots marketing, and corporate sponsorship: these aren't exactly what you'd imagine when watching the Choo Choo Bob Show
. But behind the cheery talk about trains and friendship on the new show, a strong business and brand are being built.
The show started after Bob Medcraft, owner of St. Paul-based Choo Choo Bob's Train Store
, did a television commercial for the store with Joe Martin and Wilson Webb. The trio had fun making it and subsequent feedback convinced them to do a TV show about trains. At first, they'd envisioned something on cable access, but then they decided to create something with more polish.
"The finished shows turned out great; kids loved them and parents were really positive," says Medcraft. "I decided that I was going to do everything I could to find someone who could help us raise money and get more episodes made." He turned to University of Minnesota professor Bob Vince, who offered to finance the project. Vince and Medcraft formed a company, and the Choo Choo production engine got turned on.
Because the show is too "old fashioned and atypical" to match what's on Disney and Nickelodeon, Medcraft notes that they're creating a Choo Choo Bob Network, which will pay to broadcast the show throughout the region. They're also putting together a live show that will go on tour, with the first show April 14th at the Riverview Theater.
"We came to the conclusion that if we want to get the show on TV, then we'll have to do it ourselves," he says.
Source: Bob Medcraft, Choo Choo Bob Show
Writer: Elizabeth Millard