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INTERVIEW: Sara Berliner On Children's Programming, The North Fork TV Festival, And More

T.J. Clemente

2018 event photo of Sara Berliner (right) with animator Jennifer Oxley (left). (Courtesy Photo)

Sara Berliner, Director of Children's Programming for the North Fork TV Festival, will be holding a discussion about family programming, along with a Q & A "that welcomes the participation of the children," while also "honoring Alice Cahn, a pioneer in successful children's programming," on Saturday, October 5 at the Greenport Theatre.

Berliner, who lives full-time in Cutchogue, N.Y., is also a children's media consultant, content creator and curator, and civic participant. Her focus is storytelling across platforms and genres, launched from a Harvard degree in Folklore & Mythology. Her career has reached across creative and product strategy, business development, brands and licensing, with winding paths through puppet theater, documentary film, the music business, book publishing, animation, and digital apps.

She has told stories with collaborators like Sesame Street, Warner Bros., Disney, DreamWorks, Mattel, Highlights for Children, Scholastic, National Geographic, Penguin Random House, and the NFL. Berliner is also the founder of two North Fork-based initiatives, North Fork Family, sharing local goodness for kids and grownups, and Vote Like a Mother, making parenthood and empathy a lens for civic engagement.

"It is a fun and educational opportunity for East End kids to learn about the power of storytelling to move us to action," Berliner told us about the Family Program at the North Fork TV Festival.

When asked about how TV will compete with devices in entertaining, engaging and teaching children as we move forward, Berliner said, "They will be in competition, I have worked many years in the apps space and TV and devices will not be a competition but augment each other."

She also believes TV programming might once again "return to shows the whole family can watch." She explained how Sesame Street, a show she was active in, used "celebrity guests the 4-6-years-old children had no idea who they were, but their parents did so they were also entertained watching the celebrities do their spots on the show."

When asked about her prediction of future programming she saw "more interactive programming." The honored guest, Alice Cahn, will also be taking questions.

Cahn is the Founder of CahnWorks Consulting, as well as a social responsibility, media and education executive experienced in creating projects and brands that lead to successful cross-sector partnerships; stimulate employee engagement; and contribute to positive social change.

Her experience includes Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network where she created content and projects that drove ratings and increased audiences' skill levels; reversed negative youth and adult attitudes about youth brands; and built effective partnerships with business, government, education, advocacy and community-based organizations. She also built the network's nutrition standards guiding food marketing and was Executive in Charge for network exercise and sports projects. She also founded the award-winning Stop Bullying: Speak Up project, now embraced globally by the network.

Cahn also was PBS' head of Children's Programming, acquiring the network's highest rated and most profitable youth series: Barney, Arthur, The Magic School Bus and Teletubbies.

She designed national projects linking media and education at Sony's Education First! foundation; programmed instructional media at San Francisco's public television station KQED; and taught at Village Community School, NYC. Her insights and experience are unique in the world of family programming.

The North Fork TV Festival will take place on Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5. The Festival is currently offering 20% off Festival passes and tickets with the code: VIP20.

For more information about the North Fork TV Festival, visit www.northfork.tv.

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