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Tallgrass Creek TV channel puts seniors in the spotlight

Jan Meyer and Karen Cox share a laugh about kitchen disasters while recording 1851 Studio Chats at Tallgrass Creek in Overland Park.
Jan Meyer and Karen Cox share a laugh about kitchen disasters while recording 1851 Studio Chats at Tallgrass Creek in Overland Park. Special to The Olathe News

You don’t have to go to Hollywood to be on a talk show if you’re a resident at Tallgrass Creek senior living in Overland Park.

Karen Cox, who lives in the retirement community, has started her own show, and it’s been gracing the airwaves of the Tallgrass in-house TV channel for months.

It’s called 1851 Studio Chats, named after the cable channel for residents. The show is accessible to everyone who lives at Tallgrass and features both Cox and a different resident guest each month for a themed episode.

“It’s a work in progress. We’re learning as we go,” Cox said.

Cox said fellow residents sometimes come up to her in the communal dining room with ideas for upcoming shows.

Previous episodes have featured timely holidays, such as Halloween and New Year’s Eve. A recent episode highlighted the broad topic of food. Cox and fellow resident Jan Meyer chatted about favorite state fair foods, kitchen disasters and more.

Meyer, who moved to Tallgrass Creek about four months ago, said she likes that the show can connect her to other people who share the same interests.

“Some people have trouble going up to new people. … (The show) allows you to start a conversation,” Meyer said.

To research for the show, “I go to the computer and try to find reputable sites. Some of my guests have helped with that, and they really enjoyed it,” Cox said.

Being on TV has always been a dream for Cox. As a high school student, she got to be on a local arts program in Topeka once and has never forgotten the experience.

“It was just so much fun,” Cox said.

Most of the content for the Tallgrass channel comes from staff members and covers topics such as exercise, medications and Alzheimer’s disease. The channel also televises all resident town hall meetings for anyone who can’t attend in person.

Jan Magee, resident life manager at Tallgrass, said that they encourage residents to be creative and start a new group if the community doesn’t already have that activity available.

“The residents have ideas, and we help them do what they want to do. This was her brainchild,” Magee said.

Behind the camera for 1851 Studio Chats is Resident Services Coordinator Ellen Neyman, who helps all resident groups run smoothly.

Over the last few months, as Cox has gotten more experienced, the show has grown from 12 minutes to about 30 minutes.

“Karen has kicked off the TV station and resident involvement and now other residents are starting to come up with ideas of possibly how they’d like to get involved with it, as well,” Magee said.

Other ideas residents have proposed for TV content include programs on sports or religion, but those are not on the air yet.

Cox likes the idea that any of the approximately 700 residents in the different buildings of Tallgrass Creek can tune in and watch.

“To me, it was so interesting to think that we could pull the community together by this TV show,” Cox said. “We know people who were in independent living, who are now in our extended care building, and they can still feel a part of the community as a whole. And I think that’s really important.”