Tomorrow night, the 2009 “CNN Heroes” special and celebrity gala will celebrate the work of 10 “heroes,” which the network describes as “ordinary people” who make an “extraordinary impact.”
TVNewser spoke with Susan Bunda, EVP of content development and strategy for CNN Worldwide, who oversaw “Heroes.”
She says the network is very committed to “Heroes” over the long term and is “looking to build a Thanksgiving tradition with it.” “By tying it to Thanksgiving we really do feel like it connects it to where people’s minds are. Most people will sit down across the united states that evening and be thankful for the different things in their lives. And we feel like this becomes a natural extension to it.”
“First and foremost, people rely on us for breaking news events, and we will always be that, but ‘Heroes’ extends us further,” Bunda says, referring to what the special represents for the larger CNN brand. “It is really about being able to tell people’s stories and shining a light on how people can make a difference in this world.”
Having just returned from the special’s taping in Los Angeles, Bunda was more than excited about the attendees she met, “You’re in awe when you meet them and they’re so humble about what they’ve done and I hope that their experiences with ‘CNN Heroes’ helps them realize what a big impact they’re having.”
Bunda told us that “Heroes” got started when CNN photojournalists and producers would come back from field reporting with anecdotes about the interesting people they’d met. “We just realized there are just some incredible people really making a difference in the world we live in and we decided to shine our spotlight on it.”
Over the three years of its existence, the program has gone through some changes, most notably moving from a live broadcast in New York to a taped one in LA.
“We’re seeing growth,” Bunda says. She tells us 2009 voting nearly tripled 2008’s. “To me, it’s not just growth in numbers, but that says there’s growth in the engagement of the stories.”
“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” airs Thanksgiving night at 9pmET and is hosted by Anderson Cooper.