The Antiques Roadshow in Jacksonville

by Jay Moore
I have a love/hate relationship with Antiques Roadshow shown on PBS. I love the stuff and the information. As the show’s executive producer Marsha Bemko says, it is a teaching show. I hate it because as a collector, I’ve searched all my life to find that one treasure that will allow me to sit on the beach–while the old lady who lives around the corner, who does not collect nor cares to, finds out she has been sitting on a $200,000 painting.
Antiques Roadshow is coming to Jacksonville on June 8th for the first time. It is the sixth time the show has been to Florida. Previously the tour has visited Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Miami Beach, the last time in 2010. The Roadshow tours every year from June through August.
Bemko says, “We don’t choose markets because we think we’ll find great things. We always find great things. It sounds boring, but we must consider the venue. We need 80-100-thousand square feet of space to accommodate the crowds and do the show. At least five to six thousand people attend an Antiques Roadshow taping.”
Antiques Roadshow is a major production. It has a permanent crew of 45 who work at the show’s production company, iconic WGBH TV, Boston’s PBS station. In each market, it gets a production crew from the local PBS station. In this case WJCT will hire local television professionals and recruit more than a hundred volunteers.
Bemko would not disclose the show’s annual budget. “But, I can say that we are an efficient production and cost far less than most television shows.” Roadshow numbers are big, with 9 to 10-million viewers per week nationwide, enough to make a commercial network salivate. The program is the most highly rated show on PBS.
Pundits claim the prices quoted for antiques on Roadshow are too high. Bemko retorts, “Our experts always give several prices. They quote prices for auction, retail and insurance, and they also take regional interest into account.” The quality of featured items is high, but Bemko says they do cover some everyday items.
The experts, consisting of appraisers, auction employees and knowledgeable dealers may not make offers nor act as consultants to help sell antiques during the show. However, after the show, they can get involved with owners. “Remember, they’re not doing formal appraisals, so they can [interact],” Bemko says. Normally, in the case of a formal or written appraisal, it’s considered unethical for an appraiser to have any financial interest in the things that are appraised.
Participants are chosen at random, so in order to attend and bring your item you want identified and evaluated (there is a maximum of two items), you must apply for tickets.