‘Scuba Diving Fun For The Whole Family’


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It Was A Dirty Job,

But Somebody Had To Do It . . .



“They Called Us The ‘Sewer Doers’!”

History of Divers Down™ Television

It all began way back in 1986, when I was twenty six years old. I had been using underwater video as a documentation tool for the light-duty commercial diving that was my vocation. At that time I was working under contract on the Environmental Inspection Unit for a Massachusetts city just south of Boston. Our task was to identify sources of pollution, primarily that generated from municipal and corporate facilities. The work put me in some pretty nasty places, including at the business end of a sea floor outfall pipe for a sewage system processing waste from dozens of communities in the Greater Boston area. We were doing our part to improve marine conditions in what had become a major failure in environmental responsibility.

Now realize that this was back in the days when Boston Harbor was deemed the most polluted waterway in the country. Municipal sewer systems had become so outdated that daily discharges were primarily raw sewage, and when the rains came, watch out. It was a bad situation. PBS' Nova is produced from Boston. When they decided to do an hour on the growing problem, and heard about what kind of diving we were conducting, then found out that we had underwater video capability, the fun began.

To make a long story short we sold some powerful stock video of raw sewage discharges being dumped directly into Boston Harbor. I enjoyed the video production work so much that I wanted to do more. But how to get started? That's when I got creative. A new upstart TV network called New England Sports Network (NESN) was airing a locally produced fishing program. I knocked on the door of the Producer, offering to shoot underwater video of his fish being reeled in, for free, just to get my foot in the proverbial door. It worked. Before long I was diving in a river, chasing a shad as it stripped line from the reel, hook well-set in the corner of its' mouth.

It didn't take long for the Program Manager at NESN to inquire as to how the fishing show was capturing those impressive underwater cutaways – underwater video capability was relatively new at the time. NESN invited us in for a meeting where we were offered an opportunity to develop a pilot about scuba diving, on our own dime of course. He said if they liked it they would run the program. We've been on air every week since our debut the first weekend of October, 1986. I guess they liked it.

To get broadcast ready we formed a crew and dug in quickly. Talk about learning on the job, we didn't have a clue, but were willing to do what it took to get things done. On June 10 of the same year, DDTV conducted it's first shoot at Folly Cove in Rockport, MA, a popular beach diving site on Cape Ann. I can still remember being on camera for the first time. Suffice it to say we've learned a lot and come a long way in twenty plus years.

Twenty six episodes were delivered in that first season. They weren't Hollywood, and if you asked to see them today I'd probably say no, but the programs were well received by fishermen, divers, outdoors and armchair enthusiasts alike. Before we knew it we were into season two and shooting all over again. DDTV's first venture outside New England took us all the way to Long Island, NY to dive the wreck of the USS San Diego on board the Wahoo, a research vessel specializing in what had yet to officially become 'Tek Diving'. It was exciting stuff.

By now my job with the Environmental Inspection Unit had dried up, figuratively and literally I suppose. But I had fallen in love with this thing called TV production. I enjoyed it as much as diving and wanted to move forward with Divers Down™. To make ends meet I kept a part time job, doing my best to bring Divers Down™ Television to a level that would support a household. It was hard work, requiring perseverance while inventing a business model that made sense.

From the late 80's into the early 90's DDTV was picked up by numerous regional sports networks from New York to Florida, Detroit to Arizona. We were on a roll. Enter a recession and watch advertising budgets dry up. Another hard lesson was learned, but the lessons had only just begun. A downturn in diving as an activity loomed ahead just as regional networks began changing the way programming got on air. The deck was stacked against small independent producers, us included. We really had to scrap our way through the 90's, but we did it, gaining more and more loyal and enthusiastic viewers and clients along the way.

By the late 90's we had turned the corner again and things were looking down, down into the clear deep blue that is. To that point we had managed an occasional travel episode each season, perhaps to the Caribbean or California, maybe Canada or Montana along the way. Then, a long time acquaintance, Mike Musto from Trip-N-Tour, was able to bring Continental Airlines into the mix, and we were off to more exotic destinations from Micronesia to Australia before we knew it. What a wild ride!

That's when we adopted our byline 'Worldwide Underwater Adventure Travel'. It fit Divers Down Television like a glove. With well over 150 episodes produced to date, and an unlimited palate to 'paint with video' of great destinations, we feel we're just getting started. The abyss is the limit folks, and there's a whole lot to see between here and there.

Our website has become more interactive. iDDTV webcast 'eview-previews' have begun streaming their way on to your desktop at the click of a mouse. Podcast downloads are free. So welcome to the new old DDTV™. We have strong roots, and set out new growth all the time. Join me, Mark Stanton, each week for 'Worldwide Underwater Adventure Travel' on Divers Down™ Television.

Still Photos Courtesy:

Herb Segars

Sonny & Helen McAlpin

Stephen E. Benjamin

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