Brooklyn-born and Charlotte-raised, Sean Right has always had a thing for Hollywood Squares, Jeopardy! and $10,000 Pyramid.
As long as I can remember, Ive loved game shows, says Right, 38, and now he has one of his own: Bus Stop Game, airing late nights on the Bounce network.
Rights career has been in marketing and sales, mostly chasing one failed opportunity or another. He even tried the music business, managing artists in New York. That didnt work out, he says. It was a lesson, though.
Cash Cab on Discovery gave him the idea for Bus Stop Game. He pulls up to Charlotte bus stops with his production van and offers cash prizes to people. He bought time last year on WCCB (Channel 18) and WMYT (Channel 55) to air his first 30 episodes late at night.
In January, he rented a booth at a TV trade conference in Miami Beach and landed a two-year deal to sell the series to Bounce TV, carried locally on WBTVs digital auxiliary signal at 3.2 and Time Warner Cable channel 106. Bus Stop Game started airing this month in post-midnight slots.
It was a shoestring production, largely self-financed and created through Craigslist, where he advertised for a host, production talent, people to write trivia questions (he pays teachers a buck a question) and even the shows production bus.
I was looking for some kind of vehicle a limo or a van. One day I saw a VW bus for sale on Craigslist. It was an orange piece of junk.
He bought the 1978 van for $2,000 and refurbished the interior himself, putting a video game board in the back and production equipment toward the front. He got it painted with the Bus Stop Game logo and installed seven cameras, including three on the exterior.
When hes making shows, he pulls up to bus stops, plays the shows theme song, and sometimes people start dancing. To win, you have to answer at least three questions correctly in categories like sports, health, USA, or world history. Maximum wins are $250, with the average contestant winning about $150.
When we pull up, people dont know whether to run, thinking, is it a scam? Right says.
His favorite bus stops are at Central Piedmont Community College, where he studied business in the 90s, SouthPark and the CATS station at the old Eastland Mall. He tells people if theyre still playing the game when their bus arrives, theyll have to wait for the next one. Most agree. A bus driver even waited at Eastland once for a passenger who was finishing up the game.
Though it airs on Bounce, which is aimed at the African-American audience, his contestants come from all races. Host Robby Presto, a Raleigh actor recruited through Craigslist, is white. Right has even done episodes in Spanish with a second host, Mark Diaz of Gastonia.
Its just whoevers at the bus stop, Right says. If Ned the wino is at the bus stop, well ask him questions and put him on TV.
Now that the show has national distribution, Right plans to take the show to other cities under a co-production deal with Bounce. He also plans to see if theres a market for the show in other countries.
My family thought I was the craziest person, going out to do this, he says. They were like, How do you make money doing this? Youre just giving away money. Theyre finally coming around.
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