Geneva businessman looking to create reality TV show
By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News February 6, 2013 1:38PM
Geneva businessman Robert Kaspar, owner of RK Promotions & Advertising, at LifeStorage Center in Aurora on Tuesday, Feb. 05, 2013. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:37AM
GENEVA — Two years ago Bob Kaspar bought an antique pull toy from the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawnshop featured in the TV show “Pawn Stars” and turned it into Internet sensation Stanlee Duck, whose adventures still enthrall fans on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Now the Geneva ad agency owner hopes to turn his fascination with storage facility auctions into a new reality TV show that replaces the treasure hunt competition of “Storage Wars” with a more humanitarian focus.
“I started attending storage auctions, and they’re nothing like the ones you see on TV,” Kaspar asserted. “I want to show what happened to the people whose stuff is being auctioned and why they lost their units. It’s based more on helping people who are struggling in this economy than on getting rich quick from a storage auction.”
While he’s not at liberty to discuss the details of his show concept, Kaspar joked that he could develop a different reality TV show about the process of selling a reality TV show. Last week, he pitched his storage auction show concept to network executives at the Realscreen Summit in Washington, D.C., competing for their attention with more than 2,200 aspiring producers.
“I got some very positive feedback, so I’m glad I went,” Kaspar commented. “People with networks that weren’t interested in my concept were steering me to networks that would be interested. Most of the people I talked to really liked my idea.”
The four-day convention schedule was jam-packed with seminars, panel discussions and master classes on the art of reality show salesmanship, interspersed with networking sessions during which participants got to present their ideas to actual executives from major broadcast and cable TV networks. Kaspar said his 22 years’ experience as owner of RK Promotions and Advertising Inc., which he founded in Downers Grove in 1991 and moved to Geneva in 1995, made him more comfortable interacting with network representatives.
“I’ve produced hundreds of TV commercials, so I’m used to working with TV people,” he explained, listing ads for La-Z-Boy, Premier Gymnastics, Computer Renaissance and Once Upon a Child that have aired in the Chicago area. “That’s part of what makes this challenge so interesting to me.”
Though Kaspar might sell his idea alone at the right price, he really hopes to produce the show, as well.
“I would definitely prefer to be the producer or co-producer,” he asserted. “I’ve always done everything myself (producing TV and radio commercials), so I want to play in this venue, too.”
But getting commitments to review his proposal from CNN, The History Channel, Lifetime and several other networks doesn’t make getting any deal a sure thing.
“One presenter who’s in charge of buying new shows said her network receives over 2,000 pitches a year. Out of that, the network takes on 30 projects, and only a handful of those ever make it on the air,” he said.
He’s willing to try beating those odds, both with his reality show concept and with an animated children’s show featuring Stanlee Duck and a time-traveling store clerk that he’s pitched to networks in the U.S. and Canada.
“I’m tired of seeing reality shows in which people are just screaming at each other,” he said. “We need more shows that show people helping others, that inspire viewers. So many people I’ve talked to about this say, ‘I would definitely watch that,’ but I think there’s a real market out there for it.”
“Even if the odds are against you, if you’ve got a great concept, it will find its way onto the air,” he said.