Over twenty years ago Billie Levy saw an ad in the paper about a program starting at WHCTV. She signed up and soon began producing her show featuring children’s book illustrators. Levy says she’s enjoyed producing and hosting her show, “And it’s odd because I would have been frightened to death to talk to a public audience but the camera doesn’t bother me and I don’t know why. It’s very strange, very odd, but it works.”
While filming a graduate project at Noah Webster house Levy encountered the work of some illustrators. “I thought, these people really need to be known by the public. They do such lovely work. And so I started and asked them to come on the program and nobody turned me down.”
Levy met a lot of children’s book illustrators while working at the University of Connecticut in Storrs where she was involved in developing the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection which now features archives from 90 authors and illustrators and 50,000 books. She also belonged to a children’s book collecting club who knew many wonderful illustrators. With this wide array of contacts Levy found it easy to line people up for her show. For her first show she invited her club members to come on as a panel and discuss their collections. Early on, she interviewed Esther Slobodkina, author of Caps for Sale, who had given an original painting to the public library. Since then her show has regularly featured collectors and creators of children’s book illustrations. The show is very visual and Levy always encourages guests to bring work to display on the show.
There are still a lot of wonderful artists in the area that Levy has not contacted and she feels she could go on for a long time producing shows. “We have very fine illustrators at the University of Hartford. Northampton has a whole bunch of wonderful artists” and many of these artists are agreeable to coming on to her show.
“One of the things I didn’t expect was to run into people in the supermarket who would come up to me and say ‘I saw your show” … that has been a pleasant surprise,” says Levy. She’s also spoken to a lot of people who found her show while channel surfing. Adding to that “The people, of course, at the station have been so cooperative and so nice to work with, that’s a real plus, because otherwise you just wouldn’t want to do it. I’ve just enjoyed it and enjoyed meeting them and working with them through the years.”