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Jonathan Meath ’74 Pursued Children’s Television Production After Cultivating His Interests at PA

Jonathan Meath ’74, a self-proclaimed audiovisual geek and rock musician, fostered his interest in media and the creative arts at Andover. Meath graduated from New York University in 1978 and has been nominated for one Primetime Emmy award and two Daytime Emmys for his work on the children’s series “Zoom” and “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.” “Andover encouraged me to develop my skills as a creative individual. The teachers understood that creative arts are also an intellectual pursuit,” Meath said. This original interest led Meath to co-found Andanzura, a children’s television production company. Meath’s interest in the arts blossomed during his time at Andover. “When I was at Andover for my interview and tour, [the interviewer] pitched the idea of a new program called Perception and Expression, a yearlong interdisciplinary course in art and English,” said Meath. “P&E was the reason I came to Andover, and it is the reason I have been successful in media creation and production,” Meath continued. Former Andover instructors Diz Bensley and Harold Owen taught the program, first offered in 1970 as a freshman elective. According to Meath, Bensley taught photography by showing slides of photos accompanied by a soundtrack. “Each of Diz’s slide tapes were brilliant and inspired an understanding of the artistic process,” said Meath. “I was an AV geek. My work duty was to be in Kemper running the projector,” he said. “In those days, that was my lair, where I could sit and study media. The computer is now like a personal media lab, but back then that media lab was my little laboratory.” Taking advantage of the many opportunities Andover had to offer, Meath stretched his interests and activities beyond the bounds of the classroom. “I had a rock band called Ned and the Nummies. We played dances and recorded a little. We even played on the SamPhil steps,” said Meath. “I wouldn’t say we were a big deal, but we were a good band.” Meath was also involved in the theater while at Andover. “While at PA, I was involved in a main stage production of “The Tempest” using full body puppets. We prerecorded each part in the media lab and mixed them into a soundtrack. I was the voice of Caliban. The puppets were manipulated by three or four people,” said Meath. “The Theater Department back then was a mixing of all kinds of artistic endeavors. To be involved in such a thing in high school is really a gift,” he said. Meath graduated in the class of 1974, the first class to graduate after the integration of Abbot Academy. “My Junior year was the first without a dress code, and by the time I graduated, all of my classes had girls in them.” Though TVs had not yet been introduced to dorms while Meath attended Andover, there were weekly feature-length movies. “During my Junior year, there was a Saturday night feature-length movie in GW. At the first show of the year, before they would start the movie, the Blue Key Heads got up on stage and made us learn by heart ‘The Royal Blue,’ Andover’s fight song,” said Meath. “The most wonderful opportunity at Andover is the population of students, and how we interact. The faculty is wonderful in stimulating and allowing creativity to happen. But creativity itself comes from the students,” he said. Meath now serves as Executive Producer at Andanzura, which delivers “vibrant and highly entertaining media content that inspires kids to embrace and internalize the process of making informed decisions for themselves,” according to the company website. In the past, Meath has worked for the Discovery Channel and PBS. He said that his jobs at these larger companies were to develop “an idea into a show or taking an existing show and developing and producing it.” Meath has also worked alongside Jim Henson, creator of “The Muppets.” Meath was motivated to create Andanzura because he sought more creative freedom than the larger companies had afforded him. To start his company, Meath gathered a team of partners from all sectors of the media. “The first step in creating a new company was finding the right team. My partners bring expertise in business, finance, educational development, creative and production. It’s liberating but risky being a co-owner of a production company,” he said. With a private media company, “development takes longer,” said Meath. “There’s more sales involved. You have to sell the team, then the concept, find the financing, then ultimately produce the concept. The sales side is what lengthens the process.” “We put together a team to create properties, but first you need to find financing from venture capital,” he continued. Meath met one of his partners, David Masher, while working on the popular PBS children’s game show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” The show aired from 1991 to 1996. Meath currently resides in Cambridge, MA.