J Schwanke Launches PBS Series

In its 50 years, the Public Broadcasting Service has introduced Americans young and old to a slew of educational topics, including the drama, science, history, food, and home improvement.

Now, flowers have joined the list.

J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom” explores various ways and reasons to incorporate flowers into daily life. Fourth-generation florist J Schwanke, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, CEO of uBloom.com, has already mapped out the first two 13-episode seasons, pulling from his company’s vast video collection.

Season 1’s overarching theme is empowerment, while season 2 covers health benefits.

The series kicked off Monday, April 1, at his local station in Michigan. It will have a staggered release date on 230 PBS stations around the U.S.

“It’s great because this allows us to slowly introduce the uBloom website to a much broader audience,” he said.

Schwanke had contemplated creating a television program geared for consumers for years.

“We didn’t want do a contest-based reality television series,” he said. “We wanted to find a beautiful place for people to go for a little recess from the world. I loved the idea of PBS because it’s the home of experts — it’s where Julia Child, Fred Rogers and P. Allen Smith got their start.”

Schwanke’s friendship with Smith helped get the ball rolling.

“I’ve guest starred on his show and he kindly asked how he could give back to us,” Schwanke said. “I mentioned my dream of having a lifestyle show on cut flowers, and he said it’d be a great fit for PBS. He told us who speak to and gave us lots of programming advice.”

Throughout the planning process, Schwanke encountered numerous people eager to help make his dream a reality.

For instance, his hometown PBS station in Grand Rapids suggested he reach out to the Lansing station because it has a horticulture initiative and could present a better opportunity.

He also found a number of underwriters, including CalFlowers, Design Master ColorTool, Sunshine Bouquet, Golden Flowers, Ribbonroll.com, Chrysal and Albertsons. “Because they had faith in me, we’re able to bring the joy of flowers to a national audience.”

His journey has been challenging, but immensely rewarding, he said.

“There’s no master handbook. Each PBS station is independent and autonomous,” he explained.

To market the show, he’s taking the approach that worked for radio host John Tesh and pop singer Barry Manilow and calling stations directly.

“I’m a people person, so I like the personal approach, rather than just sitting a mass press release,” he said. “It’s allowed me to talk about unique ways flowers fit in their community and how we could promote the launch.”

The goal for the show? To inspire people to embrace a floral lifestyle.

“I want them to feel empowered to go out and buy flowers after watching,” Schwanke said. “If they do, this will benefit the entire industry.”

To find out if/when Life in Bloom is airing in your community, visit uBloom.com/LIBschedule.