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FL-based ‘Health & Wellness’ cable channel in the works

A cable television channel devoted to health and wellness programming is gearing up to launch in September out of Pinellas County studios.

The Health & Wellness Channel is the latest venture of Drew Nederpelt, a New York entrepreneur and publisher who has lived part-time in St. Pete Beach for the past year.

Nederpelt hasn’t formally announced the launch; he had planned to make that announcement next month. Health News Florida learned of the channel when it was mentioned peripherally in a lawsuit, since settled.

People who know Nederpelt say his lack of experience in television shouldn’t cast doubt on his new enterprise.

“Drew is legit almost to a fault,” said John Eckberg, who spent 30 years as a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’ll figure it out. He’ll figure it out and he’ll make it happen.”

The idea for the new channel started when Nederpelt’s publishing company had several new titles that dealt with health and wellness. Nederpelt started looking for cable channels he could approach about booking interviews for his authors.

“I suggested Discovery Health,” Nederpelt said. “And people said, ‘Have you seen what’s on there? It’s like hoarders and autopsies and strange addictions.' We realized there’s not one channel about health and wellness.”

That was all the impetus Nederpelt needed. He began working on creating the Health and Wellness Channel, which he said will lean toward alternative and “natural” medicine. Its tagline: “Life, Love and Longevity.”

Nederpelt declined to discuss some of the details, such as which cable systems have been contracted to carry the fledgling channel. But he offered a glance at the daily programming schedule, with some details blacked out.

Shows planned for the Health & Wellness Channel cover such topics as “power juicing,” stretching, and exercise. There’s a weight-loss show called “Drop and Give Me 20” and a show Nederpelt describes as “a Dr. Phil knockoff.”

Midday programming will consist of a 4 1/2-hour QVC-style segment featuring health and wellness products.

Nederpelt, 43, left the tech field after the dot-com bust and founded Sterling & Ross Publishers seven years ago. The New York-based company publishes a diverse line, including financial advice by CNN personality Ali Velshy, a parenting guide by Alan Thicke and a compilation of profiles by Eckberg. Other Sterling & Ross books include a biography of William Shatner, several novels and a book of Harry Potter trivia.

“He built that publishing company up from nothing,” Eckberg said. “He started with me and one other author and he turned it into an actual, real-live publishing house. He has that entrepreneurial vision and he’ll work like a three-legged dog in the Iditarod to make sure it succeeds.”

Nederpelt, 43, said he’s narrowed his search for studio space to four Pinellas County sites, and is leaning toward one in St. Petersburg. He’s hired a few people, including a former executive from Home Shopping Network, and says he will eventually employ more than 300.

A lifelong New Yorker, Nederpelt says he chose Pinellas County for his new venture because cold winters started bothering him. He’s renting a house in St. Pete Beach.

Pinellas offers more affordable studio space than he could find in New York, he said. It also offers a pool of potential employees with experience in cable television because it is the headquarters for Home Shopping Network.

For more information, go to www.hwchannel.com; or send e-mail to contact@hwchannel.com.

-- Marty Clear is an independent journalist in Tampa. Questions or comments? Contact Carol Gentry, Editor, at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.