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Monroe entrepreneur creates TV channel for relaxation

Network to debut on Buckeye may 16

  • network-to-debut-on-buckeye-may-16

    Jennifer Bilski and Wes Heath work in Monroe on a video for eScapes, which its founder calls 'more than radio but less than television.' Each 15-minute segment has three songs and a minute of advertising.

    The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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  • eScapes

    Left Robert Oklejas founder of WorldView Inc., and General manager Jon Oswald.

    The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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network-to-debut-on-buckeye-may-16

Jennifer Bilski and Wes Heath work in Monroe on a video for eScapes, which its founder calls 'more than radio but less than television.' Each 15-minute segment has three songs and a minute of advertising.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
Enlarge | Buy This Image

In 1998, Bob Oklejas heard a Detroit radio personality describe how incredibly relaxing it was to watch giant lake freighters glide by St. Clair, Mich., as they traveled between the upper and lower Great Lakes.

Wondering if what he heard was true, Mr. Oklejas and his wife, Kate, went to St. Clair and were so moved by the experience that it sparked an idea in Mr. Oklejas: a television channel filled with relaxing video footage set to soft music.

Thirteen years later, the Monroe businessman and entrepreneur co-created eScapes -- a TV network that the founder describes as "more than radio but less than television."

He hopes to market it to cable or satellite television networks and for use in doctors' offices and hospitals.

"I like to describe it as television for people who don't watch television or television you never want to turn off," said Mr. Oklejas, who co-founded eScapes with his wife and a business partner, Roy Radakovich.

The fledgling network plans to launch May 16 on Buckeye CableSystem in Toledo, said Mr. Oklejas, president of eScapes.

Mr. Radakovich is vice president and Kate Oklejas is business manager of the network.

eScapes

Left Robert Oklejas founder of WorldView Inc., and General manager Jon Oswald.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Mr. Oklejas said eScapes' viewing niche is for those who like to leave their television on but are too busy with other things to engage in a show with a plotline.

Mr. Oklejas, who founded Monroe industrial firm Pump Engineering Inc. and sold it in 2009, started eScapes last year and has spent $1 million developing his idea. After the network launches, the company hopes to break even in six months, then be in the black by selling subscription services to cable systems and satellite TV services and one-minute blocks of air time to advertisers.

The company is in contact or negotiations with nearly every independent or municipal cable system in the Great Lakes region. It also has spoken with Direct TV and Dish Network and has plans to become available on the Internet through Web streaming.

Whether viewers will watch eScapes is the biggest question, but Mr. Oklejas thinks its format is one that is both new and has appeal for many. Broadcast in both digital and High Definition, eScapes provides 15-minute blocks of video images set to music.

"Our subject categories are things like great cities of the world, great natural scenes like parks and mountains, ship watching, lighthouses, things like that," Mr. Oklejas said.

The network is producing 100 to 150 separate 15-minute segments a month to keep viewers from seeing the same images. Each 15 minute segment has three songs -- 2 instrumentals and one vocal song -- followed by one minute of advertising.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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