By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
I am not much of a couch potato, not only because my wife won’t let me eat potatoes on the couch while watching TV, but because I prefer to drink beer in the lounge chair.
But I am definitely a pump potato. That’s because I am hooked on a channel called Gas Station TV.
I discovered it recently when I went to the gas station and was transfixed by the TVs in the new pumps.
“If I could fit my lounge chair in the car, I’d drive it over here so I could sit in Lane 1 and watch TV all day,” I told Bree, the nice young man at the register.
“There’s only one channel,” he said, “but there’s a lot on it.”
“I know,” I replied. “I just watched the weather forecast — it’s supposed to rain — and I saw a car commercial, which was appropriate. The last time I was here, I watched the entertainment news and the sports update. A guy waiting to get to the pump must have thought I was taking too long because he honked his horn at me.”
The next time I needed gas, I took my own Nielsen ratings by polling viewers.
“I actually do watch TV while I’m pumping gas,” said Mike. “I like the weather, even though I’m outside and I already know what it’s doing.”
“Do you watch TV at home?” I asked.
“Not much,” Mike said. “But I like comedies. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is my favorite.”
“If a sitcom was on TV at the gas station, would you watch it?” I inquired.
“It might take a while,” Mike said, “but my car has a big tank, so maybe I could see the whole show.”
Melanie said she watches the weather.
“I like the news, too,” she added. “It’s nice to know what’s going on in the world. I just saw a report on gas prices.”
This piqued my interest so much that I decided to talk with Violet Ivezaj, vice president of business operations for Gas Station TV, which is headquartered in Detroit. I thought of driving there from my home on Long Island, New York, but I would have used too much gas, so I called her.
“You could have watched a lot of TV on the way out,” said Violet, adding that Gas Station TV started in 2006 at five gas stations in Texas and is now in more than 3,000 stations across the country.
When I told Violet about my ratings poll, she said, “I’m glad people like us. We offer a lot of programming, like ESPN, AccuWeather, CNN and Bloomberg. We’re driven to make pumping gas a good experience.”
“Driven?” I replied. “Nice one.”
“Thank you,” Violet said. “We want to have a positive impact.”
“I don’t think I’d use the word ‘impact’ when talking about cars,” I noted.
“Oops,” she said. “Let me put it this way: Millions of people are all pumped up over us.”
“They must be tankful for Gas Station TV,” I offered.
“Tankful?” Violet replied. “Nice one.”
“Thank you,” I said, adding that I have noticed that GSTV also has advertising for the products sold at gas stations, such as snacks and soda.
“We not only want to be entertaining and informative,” Violet said, “but we want customers to buy merchandise from our clients.”
“Have you ever been on Gas Station TV?” I asked.
“Not yet,” said Violet. “My husband and children think I should be.”
“Maybe you should get an agent,” I suggested.
“You could be on,” Violet said.
“That’s a great idea,” I responded. “If Gas Station TV starts a talk show, I could be the host. I can just imagine the promo: ‘Watch Jerry and get gas.’”
Copyright 2015 by Jerry Zezima