TV Show Hometime Reaches 700 Episodes

TV Show Hometime Reaches 700 Episodes

700 episodes and still renovating for television.

Twenty-seven years ago, Twin Cities native Dean Johnson—a self-described “buildaholic”—wanted to share his home improvement know-how by creating how-to tapes that would be sold at hardware stores and home centers. But when he realized how expensive they were to produce, he needed a revenue source to underwrite the costs. That source was Hometime, a home-improvement/renovation TV show that will air its 700th episode in the second quarter of 2013.

Since 1986, Hometime has aired on various PBS stations across the country, and about 10 years ago, it went into commercial syndication. From the beginning, Johnson has served as the show’s executive producer and co-host, and it is now one of the longest-running television programs ever produced in Minnesota.

Johnson’s company, Hometime Video Publishing, provides the show to PBS at no cost, so revenue to produce it—and profits—come from sponsors, syndication, and video sales; which began to decline when the Internet gained popularity, although Johnson still sells some on the Hometime website and to PBS stations.

Hometime also derives a portion of its revenue as the contractor of record on many of its projects. Other contractors have handled the most complex projects over the years, but Johnson says he and his crew do “down-and-dirty construction” for most. They’re onsite from eight to five every weekday, even when the cameras are not.

His crew is small—fewer than a dozen people—and its numbers have shrunk even more over the years as Johnson trained them to wear many hats. “We found it was easier to train carpenters to do video work than to train videographers to do carpentry,” he explains. Johnson declined to discuss company revenues.

At 60, Johnson plans to see how many more episodes he can get under his tool belt: “I’d rather work on a project . . . than golf.”