DURING HIS 10 YEARS AS A PRODUCER for CBS, Mark Honer covered such dramatic events as the siege at Waco and Hurricane Hugo. But it was the ’94 Los Angeles earthquake that most unnerved him—and wound up redirecting his career. “They were carrying out dead bodies on gurneys two feet behind us,” recalls Honer, 37. “My wife says I was never the same.”
Long troubled by TV’s emphasis on calamity and crime, Honer hit upon the idea for a show devoted solely to good news. “For every murder that happens in this country, there is somebody doing something selfless,” he says. Determined to tell those stories, Honer left the network a year ago and launched destination: hope about three months later. Each half-hour newsmagazine is composed of profiles of such do-gooders as Daniel Jacobs, a power company complaint rep from Overland Park, Kans., who spends his vacations collecting Christmas presents for the needy, and Chris Rahamian, a Kansas City, Mo., high schooler who took the cash he’d been saving to buy a car and, instead, bought a van for a woman who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease. The show also gives out Medals of Hope to do-gooders.
Now seen in 22 markets, hope consistently finishes first or second in its time slot, despite its shoestring budget (Hallmark Cards is its primary advertiser). “I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out the world—the injustice, racism, hate,” wrote Adam, a 16-year-old Elmira, N.Y., student. “I wanted you to know that your show has made a difference.”