By Kris Leonhardt
This story is part of our series from the 2023 New North Summit, focused on the “Power of Place.”
GREEN BAY – Keynote speaker, Corey Behnke was born in Green Bay but saw his dreams develop far from the northeast Wisconsin region as he pursued a career in acting.
“Let me tell you about the power of this place. I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I grew up with three grandfathers who love the Green Bay Packers. My great grandpa had an orchestra, and they played on the ferry from Ludington to Manitowoc in the 20s and 30s,” Behnke explained.
“My family moved to Los Angeles and then to North Carolina, and I graduated in North Carolina (School of the Arts) to pursue my journey as an actor. I thought I wanted to be an actor from when I was six years old until I was 25.
“When I wasn’t working as an actor — how many actors have said that — a lot. I needed a job. So, I started freelancing as a production assistant. In 2003, I secured a job as a production assistant for New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
“I walked into a broadcast truck… and it’s funny when you think you’re going to do something your whole entire life and then your whole entire life changes. That’s what happened.”
He worked his way up as a livestream broadcast producer “… and created the first official Times Square webcast.”
“For 23 years later the show is still going strong, with over six million people watching around the world. Now, the last two years, we actually distribute the feed from Green Bay to the entire world,” he explained.
After working for other companies, he left in 2015 with what he calls a “really heavy non-compete.”
He then co-founded Live X — a livestreaming production company headquartered in New York City, with a newly built remote facility in downtown Green Bay — and Cheesehead TV.
In August of 2018, Live X produced a fully-remote livestream of a sporting event from Pebble Beach, Calif.
“This was the start of our remote broadcast journey,” he recalled.
Behnke said that the livestream broadcast of the event saved the client 60% of what they paid the year before.
“This journey found me in Milwaukee in 2020,” he added.
“It was Milwaukee that opened my eyes to the enormous possibility. Remote previously had been about 10% of our business.”
But, COVID-19 changed all of that.
At one time, all live production was done on-site, which often meant moving to New York or Los Angeles.
Today, with remote options, Behnke said his company can now focus on “lifestyle savings.”
“What about raising the family? What about not spending all your time on a commute?” he inquired about living in places such as Green Bay.
“Something that I fully embrace for our company is this idea of lifestyle savings. You know, fishing for walleye is important. And, gardening for me is important. My first three seasons of gardening — about the last three years — it’s been incredible. Not that you can’t garden in New York City, but I’ve never had sunlight, so I always thought it was terrible, and turns out I’m not terrible.
“And being available to family and friends, right? I spent a lot of those 20 years not being available to the people that I love, people that I care about. And so some of those things are ‘why Green Bay,’ and some of those things are, you know, it’s a very special place, unique like no other.
“And people love to work here and so many people are in industry. They work in a local news station, and then they have to go somewhere else. They work at their first place out of college and then they have to go somewhere else. What if they don’t; it’s an amazing place. A new remote workforce can be anywhere, so why not the new normal?”
Watch for more on the Power of Place in next week’s edition of the Press Times.