Just foolin’
Launch of national cable channel part of Ely’s annual April Fool’s hoax
Keith Vandervort

ELY - Many have heard that Ely— gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area — has been selected as the location for a living off-the-grid-themed reality show. Buoyed by the attention, the city announced on April Fool’s Day it will go big on the small screen — and launch a 24/7 all-Ely, all-the-time network — The Ely Channel.

The annual rite of spring and kick-off to the summer tourism season hit Minnesota media outlets this week as the Ely Chamber of Commerce launched another tourism and marketing campaign on April Fool’s Day.

“The Ely story has legs — as well as fins, antlers and just about everything else,” says newl- named Ely Channel network executive Jeremy Williams. Williams, along with several other former locals, is convinced that a televised trip to the town at the end of the road — Ely — might be just what this country needs.

Cable carriers in Kansas City, Kan., and Claremont, Calif., have already signed up. In a several rural markets, The Ely Channel has replaced bigger players such as al Jazeera, and in one case, CNN.

The Ely Channel will unveil a full schedule of programming at the New York City TV upfronts later in April. But the network has already begun production on several shows, including Iron Range Chef, Sauna Wars (heavily pixilated to comply with FCC standards) and a singalong, call-in show, Campfire!

“There has been a webcam up on Sheridan (Street) for a few years, and that’s become pretty popular. A lot of folks tune in from all over just to see what’s going on in town. I guess this (station) will be sort of like that, only with sound,” said Linda Fryer, Ely Tourism. “And of course, there’s our Ely cable station that’s already airing local news and happenings, including the popular Snorkeling with Mikey. We’ll be able to bring programs like that to a much wider audience.”

“In Ely, we’ve got the corner on nature — with summer and winter activities galore,” Williams said. “In fact, research shows there’s strong interest in rural and nature-based programming in general, and in Ely and the Boundary Waters specifically.” Special materials are also being developed to help bring The Ely Channel into the classroom for schools throughout the country.

The Ely Chamber has diverted dollars to seed fund the channel, and is asking for the public’s help in making this effort a success. “We need folks who love this area to contact their cable companies to request The Ely Channel,” Fryer said. “Whether they’ve been to Ely before or not, we know that people will travel to experience the magic of Ely in person once they get a dose of our million acres of unspoiled wilderness on their flat screens. If not, we’ve got a whole lot of fancy TV equipment that’ll end up on Craigslist!” The city is considering launching an angel investment round of financing to grow programming on the channel as well.

For more on The Ely Channel, or to book a trip to town to see first-hand America’s Coolest Small Town, visit http://www.ely.org.

Talking points

Is there enough to fill 24 hours of programming in Ely? Between the summer and winter activities available in Ely and our people, no problem. We have enough stuff to do, and enough personalities and characters up here to fill 24 hours of programming, easy. And if Oprah can do it, so can we.

How will it be launched? The town will officially launch the channel with a very special press conference in the IDS Crystal Court, at noon in downtown Minneapolis on April 1. Ely will be around in the IDS Crystal Court all told from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, so come check us out.

Where can I see it? Ask your local cable provider to sign you up to receive The Ely Channel. Or you can visit ely.org for more information.

:Wait a minute, is this a joke? Well, you could ask your cable provider about getting the Ely Channel. Who doesn’t need a little more Ely in their life? Or, you could think about what day it is today…

What are some other shows? Oh, there’s so much- we can’t wait for you to see S’more Boss. And Muck Luck.  Or DNR: Cold Case Unit, Outfits of the Outfitters, Gone Dogsleddin’ and the Nice ‘n’ Short Resort Report.

Who’s in charge? Ely Channel network executives aside, we all know that Linda Fryer, of Ely Tourism, is the real person in charge in Ely.

Is it already available? Well, we hear that cable carriers in I think… maybe… Kansas City, Kan. and Claremont, Calif. have already signed up. In several rural markets, we hear The Ely Channel has maybe replaced bigger players such as al Jazeera, and in one case, CNN.

Isn’t there already an Ely TV station?

There is a webcam up on Sheridan (Street) that’s pretty popular. A lot of folks tune in from all over just to see what’s going on in town. I guess this (station) will be sort of like that, only with sound,” said Linda Fryer, Ely Tourism. “And of course, there’s our Ely cable station that’s already airing local news and happenings, including the popular Snorkeling with Mikey. We’ll be able to bring programs like that to a much wider audience.”

Why an Ely Channel? In Ely, we’ve got the corner on nature — with summer and winter activities galore. We have our million acres of unspoiled wilderness to show off. In fact, research shows there’s strong interest in rural and nature-based programming in general, and in Ely and the Boundary Waters specifically. As much as people want to be up here, that’s not always possible. The Ely Channel will let you take a trip to the Gateway to the Boundary Waters any time, with a push of the remote button.

What else are you developing? Besides this new programming, special materials are also being developed to help bring The Ely Channel into the classroom for schools throughout the country.

What’s the hashtag? #elychannel

What’s Ely known for? Besides April Fool’s jokes (like the time we were annexed by Canada, and the time we bid for the Olympics… oh, and the time we banned all social media… and the time Dairy Queen bought the naming rights to the Boundary Waters), the city is known as a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and is home to the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center. There are lots of things to do in Ely in summer and winter- visit www.ely.org for all the details, and of course find us on Facebook and Twitter.

What’s the deal with Ely being named Coolest Small Town? Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine named Ely Coolest Small Town in America a few years ago. We’re milking it as long as possible.

Why is it named Ely? Ely was once named “que quam chep”, which means “land of the berries” in the Chippewa language. The first non-Native American name for the town was Florence, but after discovering that another town in Minnesota was already named Florence, the name was changed to Ely, in honor of Samuel B. Ely, a miner from Michigan who never actually saw the town.

About Ely wildlife and stuff. The town of Ely provides the primary access to the lakes of the western Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Numerous trailheads and canoe portages along the Echo Trail provide access to the BWCAW. Unmatched views of sharply rolling forest, lakes, wetlands, rivers, and granite crags in one of the most remote areas in the contiguous United States; canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and primitive camping in the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters; opportunities to see wildlife; blueberry and other wild berry picking and wildflower viewing.

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