Friday, December 20, 2013

Before We Bid Farewell to 2013, See if the Charitable IRA Rollover is Right for You

The week of Thanksgiving, we described National Philanthropy Day and highlighted the generosity of long-term donors and volunteers Tia and Ken Scigulinsky. Now, before the end of the year, we'd like to describe the vehicle by which the Scigulinskys have made their charitable contributions to Rhode Island PBS, in hopes their story will benefit you as well.

Since being introduced in 2006, the charitable IRA rollover has become a favorite of charitably-minded taxpayers. Many have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to transfer up to $100,000 each year to charity without being treated as a taxable distribution. It's a simple but powerful planning strategy for taxpayers 70 ½ or older who are required to take a minimum distribution from their IRA, but may not need the income to live.

Such is the case for Ken and Tia Scigulinsky of Portsmouth, RI.

Ken and Tia Scigulinsky
Devoted to their family, their community, and their country, Ken and Tiagenerously give of their time as well as their money. They volunteer with several education-related organizations and committees in the greater Newport area where they live.

Ken and Tia have supported Rhode Island PBS for more than a decade. Tia served consecutive terms as a member of the Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority, the station's former governing body, and currently serves as board secretary on the Rhode Island PBS Foundation Board of Directors.

The Scigulinskys recently sat with Rhode Island PBS Director of Development and External Affairs Molly Garrison to discuss why the charitable IRA rollover made sense for them.

"We've worked hard all our lives and now enjoy a comfortable financial position in retirement that permits us to support our favorite organizations," Tia said. "We appreciate Rhode Island PBS on several levels - the format that lets us enjoy our shows without commercial interruption; the abundance of music, cultural, and performing arts from the best stages in the world; the subtle but very real learning that permeates the entire schedule--"

"Turn on the channel and learn something new every time," Ken interjected.

"Plus, the station's commitment to producing and presenting local stories," Tia concluded. "All of those reasons define Rhode Island PBS's role in the community and why it's important to us."

"You can call it the lure of 'convenience, culture, and community,'" said Ken.  

"It sounds like a scripted commercial, but it's true," Tia laughed. "Rhode Island PBS really is the local trusted source of quality programming that actually makes a difference in the lives of viewers. I know it makes a difference in our lives, and we want to preserve that experience for future generations by giving what we can now," she said.

"As fond as we are of Rhode Island PBS, our motives are not exclusively philanthropic," Ken grinned broadly. "There's also a practical advantage to giving this way. We trusted our financial advisor's recommendation that it would be better to make our contribution directly from an IRA so that the money is not considered income to us, as opposed to receiving the IRA money as income, then making a tax-deductible donation." 

Plus, as Ken noted, donating these assets, rather than taking minimum required distributions, may also enable older donors to avoid certain penalties that come with a higher adjusted gross income, such as higher Medicare premiums.

"And it was easy to do, too," Tia explained. "A Web search summarized the process with clear, simple directions and included a sample letter to send to the IRA manager to request the transfer. A call to our financial advisor confirmed the move."

We at Rhode Island PBS appreciate the inspiring generosity of spirit and deed Tia and Ken demonstrate every day. We hope you find their story inspiring as well, and useful in your year-end financial planning.

These are the summarized requirements and restrictions for making a charitable IRA rollover gift:
  • The donor must be 70 1/2 or older.
  • The gift must be made directly from the IRA to an eligible charitable organization by December 31, 2013.
  • Gifts to all charities combined cannot exceed a total of $100,000 per taxpayer for the year.
  • The gifts must be outright, and no material benefits can be received in return for the gifts. 
  • The gift is not included in taxable income, and no charitable deduction is allowed.
  • The gift can only be made from an IRA. Gifts from a 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans must be rolled into an IRA first, then the gift can be made from the IRA.
To complete an IRA charitable rollover, the first step is to contact your IRA provider to learn the provider's specific procedures. 

The charitable IRA Rollover is set to expire on December 31st.  If Congress renews this vehicle in the New Year, we will be sure to update you.  However, there are other creative ways to support Rhode Island PBS that never expire - where you and that station you love benefit at the same time. Such giving techniques are called "planned gifts" because, with thoughtful planning, you create win-win solutions for you and Rhode Island PBS. 

For example:
  • You can make a gift that costs nothing during your lifetime, by including Rhode Island PBS in your will.
  • You can give stock to Rhode Island PBS and avoid paying capital gains tax.
To learn more, call Molly Garrison, Director of Development and External Affairs
401-22-3636 ext. 336.

Mr. Stink, a magical, heart-warming story (and Lord Grantham like you've never seen him!)

Get ready for an unexpected and heartwarming treat this holiday season, coming to Rhode Island PBS Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Mr. Stink, a feature-length drama adapted from the popular children’s novel written by David Walliams, will air at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. December 24, and at 5 a.m. December 25.

Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville stars as Mr. Stink, a homeless man who is befriended by a lonely twelve-year-old girl named Chloe who invites him to live in the shed at the end of her family’s garden. It’s a role that seems to be about 180 degrees removed from the ultra posh Robert, Earl of Grantham, which is part of the reason it should be so fun to watch.

The film description according to the official press release:

Chloe (played by Nell Tiger Free) sees Mr. Stink every day, but she’s never spoken to him, which isn’t surprising, because he’s a tramp — and he stinks. But before she knows it, Chloe has an unusual friend hiding in her garden shed when it seems Mr. Stink and his stinky dog, Duchess, might be driven out of town.

As Chloe struggles to make sure no one sniffs out Mr. Stink, she also has to cope with an overbearing mum who is more interested in her own political ambitions than her daughter, her put-upon dad who has a secret of his own, her “perfect” younger sister, Annabelle, and the nasty girls who make her life miserable at school.

There is also one other person with an extraordinary secret, as it turns out that there is more to Mr. Stink than meets the eye ... or nose.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

World War I Christmas Eve Truce Subject of "Silent Night"

This opera recounts the true story of the World War I Christmas Eve truce. For one magical evening on December 24, 1914, French, German and British soldiers laid down their arms and joined in a spontaneous celebration reflecting the peace, fellowship and humanity of the season.

Based on the Academy Award-nominated film Joyeux Noel, this two-act production was commissioned by the Minnesota Opera and premiered in November 2012 to national acclaim, including a Pulitzer Prize for Music for composer Kevin Puts. With a libretto by Mark Campbell, "Silent Night" is sung in French, English, German, Italian and Latin with English subtitles.

Rhode Island PBS premieres Silent Night at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, with re-broadcast at half after midnight and again at noon on Saturday, December 21.

Gloria Gemma Foundation Hope Bus Subject of New Documentary

“For the first time in 17 years, you have allowed me to let my breast cancer go. I can now move on with my life,” a breast cancer survivor told the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s Maureen DiPiero aboard the Hope Bus.

“And even still, it touches me and that was three years ago,” DiPiero tearfully said of the encounter. “The thought that this bus can have that impact on someone, just takes my breath away.”

Since 2011, the Pawtucket-based nonprofit has used the Hope Bus—a pink 38-foot recreational vehicle—to directly reach thousands of people in all 39 towns and cities of Rhode Island. Free breast health education, awareness, and support programs are offered to the community aboard the Hope Bus, which is a comforting environment where individuals have shared their personal stories and experiences with breast cancer.

Now, the Hope Bus will make its way to Rhode Islanders in their homes when the third installment of Behind the Ribbonthe Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s documentary series, airs Sunday, December 29 at 6PM on Rhode Island PBS.

In "The Hope Bus" episode, viewers are taken behind-the-scenes and offered access to intimate stories of triumph and perseverance from breast cancer survivors, and learn the approach behind the Hope Bus and how it has become what it istoday. Additionally, viewers join staff and volunteers on the Hope Bus as it travels to locations including South County Hospital in East Greenwich, CVS|Caremark in Woonsocket, Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, and Lincoln High School.

"The Hope Bus" will re-air on Saturday, January 4 at 11PM on Rhode Island PBS. Behind the Ribbon premiered on Rhode Island PBS in March. The first two installments, "Young Survivors" and "Beauty and the Beast," can be viewed at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks to Our Donors and Volunteers

On November 26, two days before families across the country gather for Thanksgiving, WSBE Rhode Island PBS gathered with more than 400 other non-profit organizations and guests across the state to thank outstanding donors and volunteers. As part of National Philanthropy Day, Rhode Island PBS honored Gencorp Insurance Group, and Tia and Ken Scigulinsky for their philanthropy and volunteer service to Rhode Island PBS and its mission.

Rhode Island’s National Philanthropy Day event, held this year at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, has been sponsored by the Rhode Island Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 1987 to honor corporations, small businesses, groups, and individuals who have made a real difference in the lives of men, women, and children in Rhode Island and Southeastern New England.

"We are happy to publicly recognize the dedication and fine work of two of our most generous supporters.  What better time of year to express our gratitude than Thanksgiving?" said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. "On behalf of all the Rhode Island PBS families who benefit from the time and money generously donated by the Padula and Scigulinsky families, thank you."

Since 2005, Gencorp Insurance Group has underwritten business and news programming on Rhode Island PBS. Gencorp has also been a major sponsor of the station’s annual fundraising event, An Evening Uncorked! Each year, the financial and
(l-r) Rhode Island PBS President David Piccerelli with Chad
Bjorklund, Joe Padula, Anne Nicoll, and Bob Padula of Gencorp.
personal support from Gencorp’s Padula family has significantly contributed to the event’s success, and to advancement of Rhode Island PBS’s mission.

Gencorp Insurance Group is a regional, multi-faceted financial services agency serving individuals, business owners, and insurance professionals. Gencorp is headquartered in East Greenwich, with offices in Wakefield and Middletown, RI, and Mansfield, MA. Gencorp's philanthropic commitment to the community is fulfilled through the Gencorp Insurance Charitable Foundation. Among their charitable priorities, Gencorp supports initiatives that offer quality education to children of financially disadvantaged families.  Gencorp’s support of Rhode Island PBS helps provide free educational content over the air as well as online through PBS LearningMedia.

Ken and Tia Scigulinsky of Portsmouth, RI, are true champions of Rhode Island PBS’s mission to engage viewers of all ages through creative educational content development and delivery. Ken retired from the navy in 1979 then worked as a defense contractor for 20 years. He currently volunteers with Junior Achievement, teaching business to fifth graders, and is a mentor at Thompson Middle School. Tia taught history at Rogers High School in Newport, retiring as the department head in 2005. With a deep belief in the value of providing accessible learning resources to all, the Scigulinskys have supported Rhode Island PBS financially and personally for more than a decade. 
Ken and Tia Scigulinsky

"Tia and Ken embrace our organization with unparalleled generosity, warmth and dedication," said Molly Garrison, director of development and external affairs at Rhode Island PBS. "At Rhode Island PBS, we work to educate, inform, enrich, inspire, and entertain our viewers. If you spend an afternoon with Ken and Tia, you learn that they work to do these very things in their daily life," she said.

Tia Scigulinsky served consecutive terms as a member of the Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority, the station’s former governing body. Mrs. Scigulinsky currently sits on the Rhode Island PBS Foundation Board of Directors, serving as Board Secretary. She also serves on a number of education-related boards and committees in the community.

During the National Philanthropy Day event, recognition is given to more than 100 Partners in Philanthropy by non-profit organizations who want to honor outstanding volunteers and donors.  Rhode Island PBS is a 2013 media sponsor of the event.

A Lively Experiment, week of November 29

Dyana Koelsch – moderator
Wendy Schiller – political science professor, Brown University
Dave Layman – corporate communications consultant    
Maureen Moakley – political science professor, University of Rhode Island
Scott MacKay – political analyst, Rhode Island Public Radio

  • Pension deal speculation 
  • WPRI/Providence Journal poll results 
  • Report: Rhode Island one of the worst run states 
  • State Commerce Commission’s money woes
A Lively Experiment airs on WSBE Rhode Island PBS (36.1) Fridays at 8:30 p.m., with rebroadcasts on Saturdays at 7 P.M. on WSBE Learn (36.2), and Sundays at noon on WSBE Rhode Island PBS.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable: Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 7776.

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; in Rhode Island on Cox 808; Verizon FiOS 478; Full Channel 89; and in Massachusetts on Comcast 294 or 312.

Can't get to the TV? Watch the episode online anytime and anywhere on our YouTube channel. Episodes of A Lively Experiment are generally available to watch on the next business day. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and YouTube will notify you when a new episode is uploaded.

On Facebook? So are we! "Like" A Lively Experiment on Facebook.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Focusing on You: Results of Our First Focus Group

Focusing on You

We asked viewers to join us at Rhode Island PBS for a focus group to have a facilitated conversation about Rhode Island PBS's brand recognition and the station's value in our community.

We had a great turn-out and guests had a behind the scenes tour of A Lively Experiment. Below are some of the things they told us while at the Station. 

If you would like to be on the invitation list for our next Focus group, please call Diane at 401-222-3636 x 0. 

Why do you watch Rhode Island PBS?
Diversity, Arts and Entertainment. You see stuff you can't see anywhere else and it's free.  What could be better than that? Rhode Island PBS has enriched my life since I was like 5 years old.

I like it because there are things I can watch with my son that are not loaded with violence.

The programs just suit me. 
It's much, much different than commercial television and much better if you ask me.

How do you know that you are watching Rhode Island PBS?
I know that I am watching Rhode Island PBS because I see the bird logo in the right hand corner of my screen.

I don't know the difference between Rhode Island PBS and WGBH when I am watching.

I know that I am watching Rhode Island PBS because I don't have cable, and your station is the only PBS station that I can get free of charge.

Why do you watch Rhode Island PBS versus another PBS Station?
I like to watch programming in my state when I can to support the local businesses and stations.  However, I flip around to find the programming I want.

I'm for the little guy-for the smaller businesses, for the small stations and there are people out there, like me, who are going to support you.

What value does Rhode Island PBS bring to the community?
I'm interested in local programming.  It's about a sense of community and I learn more about Rhode Island.  You feel like you are part of something.  I'm not just saying that because I am here.

What do you know about the history and funding of Rhode Island PBS?
I don't know anything about it.

You are no longer getting as much money from the State of Rhode Island.

I like that you are now independent.

Downton Abbey Returns: Let's Party Like It's 1922!

                  Ring in the New Year with High Drama and High Style 

Season 4 of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece premieres on Rhode Island PBS on Friday, January 17 at 9 p.m. To celebrate, Rhode Island PBS is hosting an Upstairs Dinner Party and a Downstairs Preview Screening at the Park Theatre in Cranston on Friday, January 3, 2014. Join us - let's party like it's 1922! 

Period costume is optional, but it's such a fun part of the event. Downton Abbey Season 4 opens in 1922 - dropped waists, "Flapper" fringe, bobbed and waved hair, t-strap shoes, and long strands of beads were in fashion. Hemlines may have been rising, but formal evening wear still swept the floor with full-length skirts. Check the Web for inspiration - Pinterest has some lovely photos of vintage dresses.  

The Upstairs Dinner Party starts at 6 p.m. and includes a delicious menu and an enlightening and entertaining presentation about period clothing styles by Laurie Brewer, costume and textiles curator at the RISD Museum, as well as a living history presentation by Patricia Perry, a professional historical interpreter with Sneak Peek Productions. Upstairs Dinner Party guests can also bid in a silent auction of a select number of fun and luxurious items. Seating is strictly limited for the Upstairs Dinner Party, so you'll want to get your tickets now

The Downstairs Preview Screening will show the first hour of Season 4 on the Park Theatre's big screen at 8:30 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public, and all guests are invited to come in costume. Doors open to the screening public at 7:45 p.m. There is plenty of free parking in the municipal parking lot across the street from the Park Theatre.

Guests who plan to only attend the free screening must pick up their general admission tickets in person in advance at the Park Theatre (848 Park Avenue, Cranston, RI) on or after December 6. Kindly note: Due to expected high demand, the Park Theatre cannot accept telephone, online, or "will call" reservations for the free tickets. Screening tickets must be picked up in person in advance, thank you! (Dinner Party guests will enjoy VIP seating at the screening with no advance ticket pick up necessary - your tickets will be conveniently waiting for you.)

Guests are invited to bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to the Park Theatre to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank

All guests - upstairs and downstairs - are eligible to purchase a limited-edition raffle ticket for a one-week stay at the quaint Connemara Country Cottages in Ireland. Tickets are $50 each and only 250 raffle tickets will be sold. We will draw and announce the winner immediately after the screening. Visit our Website for information about the Connemara Country Cottages and to purchase your raffle ticket before they sell out. You don't have to be present to win - but wouldn't it be exciting to hear your name called in a theater resounding with applause! 

Mark your calendar for the premiere of Downton Abbey Season 4 onMasterpiece, on Friday, January 17 at 9 p.m. on Rhode Island PBS.

The Rhode Island PBS Upstairs Dinner Party |Downstairs Preview Screening and local broadcast of Downton Abbey Season 4 on Masterpiece is generously sponsored by Rhode Island Antiques Mall, Hearing Health Professionals of New England, with additional support from Lathrop Insurance Agency and the Warwick Mall.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving treats for kids and kids at heart

Happy Thanksgiving! We're previewing some fun new (Christmas) holiday shows during the Thanksgiving

While you prepare the fixings and stuff the turkey on Thanksgiving morning, the little ones in your life are bound to get excited over Thomas and Friends King of the Railway at 6 a.m. It's followed by the brand new Elmo's Christmas Countdown, and then the encore of Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about Christmas at 8.

We know how much kids love replays of favorites, so we encore Elmo's Christmas Countdown and Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about Christmas starting at 4:30 p.m.

For the grownups, we have a sumptuous historical crossover after-dinner treat at 8 p.m.: Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving (if you're not out shopping) we've stacked four Antiques Roadshow episodes starting at 2 p.m.: Junk in the Trunk III, Survivors, Politically Collect, and Relative Riches.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Lively Experiment, week of November 22

Dyana Koelsch – moderator
Tony Affigne – political science professor, Providence College
Ted Nesi – political and economics reporter    
Maureen Moakley – political science professor, University of Rhode Island
Don Roach – columnist

  • WPRI/Providence Journal and Brown University polls 
  • R.I. state government running over budget 
  • Expenses and earnings of the state’s municipal pension systems 
  • Has the quality of our leaders changed since JFK?
A Lively Experiment airs on WSBE Rhode Island PBS (36.1) Fridays at 8:30 p.m., with rebroadcasts on Saturdays at 7 P.M. on WSBE Learn (36.2), and Sundays at noon on WSBE Rhode Island PBS.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable: Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 7776.

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; in Rhode Island on Cox 808; Verizon FiOS 478; Full Channel 89; and in Massachusetts on Comcast 294 or 312.

Can't get to the TV? Watch the episode online anytime and anywhere on our YouTube channel. Episodes of A Lively Experiment are generally available to watch on the next business day. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and YouTube will notify you when a new episode is uploaded.

On Facebook? So are we! "Like" A Lively Experiment on Facebook.

So Much to Love: December is Brimming with Holiday Cheer

On Monday, December 2 at 8 p.m., join us live in the studio (that's always fun!) as we present a traditional holiday favorite, Happy Holidays: The Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Shows and a brand new Celtic Woman: Home For Christmas.

Happy Holidays: The Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Shows features classic clips of various Christmas specials from The Andy Williams Show. Filling homes with seasonal cheer, the specials became a cherished holiday family tradition. The digitally re-mastered production numbers are complete with magnificent sets and costumes and a cast of singers, dancers, and skaters. Quintessential moments include Williams’s solos of “Silent Night” and “Ave Maria,” as well as performances with his brothers for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and with the Osmonds for “Silver Bells.” Interviews with Williams, and Bobby and Donny Osmond are interwoven with the show clips.

At 9:30 p.m., Celtic Woman: Home For Christmas stars vocalists Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, Meav Ni Mhaolchatha and Celtic violinist Mairead Nesbitt, performing timeless holiday favorites ("Silent Night," I'll Be Home For Christmas," "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," "Joy To The World") with their signature Celtic twist under the distinct musical direction of Emmy-nominated music producer, David Downes. Home For Christmas, directed by Russell Thomas and filmed at Dublin's Helix Theatre, is both a visual and aural feast. Complimented by Ireland's finest musicians comprised of a 36-piece orchestra and the 40-member Philharmonic Choir, this large-scale production promises to be a moving and festive celebration of the music cherished for generations.

Tuesday, December 3, starting at 7 p.m., we showcase some of your favorite Brit-Coms in special episodes: Last of the Summer Wine is a holiday episode, As Time Goes By: You Must Remember This starts around 7:45 p.m., and at about 9:15, tune in for a Waiting for God holiday episode. Plus, as a live night from our studio, you can count on some surprises.

On Wednesday, December 4, we "wrap" our live studio presence with the remarkable story of courage, strength, and ingenuity, Alone in the Wilderness, beginning at 7:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., rock the house with Joe Bonamassa: Live from Royal Albert Hall, followed by a beautiful local documentary at 10:30 p.m., Guitar #1711.

In 1967, at age 50, Dick Proenneke traveled to the Twin Lakes region in Alaska and built himself a log cabin on the lake shore. With only skill and resourcefulness as his companions, it was there, amid all the beauty – and harshness – of Alaska, that he spent the next 30 years of his life, Alone in the Wilderness.

Alone in the Wilderness, produced by Bob Swerer, uses color footage Proenneke recorded himself to share with his family back home in Iowa. Filmed mostly with a stationary 16mm camera, the film consists of shots of Proenneke performing tasks around his cabin, canoeing, walking, plus views of wildlife, along with narration.

With more than 3,000 feet of film shot by Proenneke, and meticulous, poetic journals written, his adventures in Alaska resulted in three films, edited and produced by Swerer Productions. Alone in the Wilderness, released in 2003, covers Proenneke's first year in the wilderness, showing his day-to-day activities, and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living. 

When Joe Bonamassa took the stage Live at Royal Albert Hall in May 2009, he fulfilled a dream he'd held since first picking up a guitar as a kid in upstate New York. The sold-out concert--fresh off the release of his #1 album The Ballad of John Henry -- marked Bonamassa's headlining debut at arguably the most prestigious concert venue in the world. At the Hall, Bonamassa had the added honor of being joined onstage by the legendary Eric Clapton. The Times of London cited Joe's "searing excellence and showmanship," and Planet Rock said, "The sight of two of the world's best guitarists trading solos was more than a little thrilling."

Intimate and Lyrical, It's the Making of Guitar #1711

Guitar #1711 is a documentary film about Rhode Island guitar maker Otto D’Ambrosio, directed by Rhode Island-based filmmaker Guy Benoit. The film is an intimate and lyrical portrait of the artistic process, following D’Ambrosio through the creation -- start to finish -- of an acoustic archtop guitar, hand made for renowned jazz guitarist and Berklee College of Music Instructor Julian Lage (Gary Burton Band, Nels Cline, Jim Hall). The film culminates with a live concert performance by Lage, playing guitar #1711. Rhode Island PBS shares this documentary with you on Wednesday, December 4 at 10:30 p.m.

In October 2010, D’Ambrosio and Lage first discussed the making of a custom crafted instrument -- a unique design, perfectly suited to the guitarist’s highly individual style. It took 206 days for D’Ambrosio to make the instrument, entirely by hand, using traditional tools and techniques. From the start of the build to the completion of the project, filmmaker Benoit was there to document every step of the construction. When guitar #1711 was finished, Lage premiered the instrument in concert, before a small and spellbound audience at the guitar maker’s workshop/studio in an industrial section of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

“Guitar #1711 is an atmospheric film, and the story drifts along with a dreamy grace,” says filmmaker Benoit. “It begins and ends in a workshop, in a lonely brick mill. Along the way, D’Ambrosio and Lage take the audience on a passionate journey with their hands, as the luthier builds and the guitarist plays the extraordinary instrument in the making — guitar #1711.”

Guy Benoit is an award-winning filmmaker, whose credits include Atomic Brain (writer), and Exhumed! (writer), He has directed numerous music videos (Six Finger Satellite, Scarce, Marissa Nadler, Mark Cutler), and his work has been featured on MTV.

2014 RISCA Fellowship recipient, Rhode Island-based videographer William Smyth is the film’s director of photography.

Otto D’Ambrosio began his training in Staten Island, New York, and apprenticed with legendary guitar makers “Flip” Scipio, John Monteleone and Carl Thompson before working for Guild Guitars in Westerly, Rhode Island. Since setting off on his own to build instruments in 2001, D’Ambrosio has designed and crafted 87 unique guitars and basses. In 2004, the design of his El Rey model guitar was licensed by the Eastman Music Company for worldwide distribution.

Study: PBS KIDS Content in the Classroom Improves Early Math Skills

We at Rhode Island PBS are so pleased to share this news with you:

Study Finds that Use of PBS KIDS Content in the Classroom
Improves Early Math Skills in Preschool Children
Combining engaging media with interactive
technology and teacher training improves learning


Note: this is an image of the Huff-Puff-a-Tron game, located at: 
Credit:The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!© 2013, 
CITH Productions, Inc. and Red Hat Animation Ltd. Underlying 
characters © 1957, 1985 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.
New York, NY and Menlo Park, CA: A new study conducted by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and SRI International found that the acquisition of essential early math skills, such as counting, recognizing numerals, recognizing shapes, and patterning, increased significantly among economically disadvantaged four- and five-year-old children who participated in a 10-week PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement initiative. Transmedia includes the use of familiar characters, settings, and stories across different media formats.

 The materials featured videos and interactive content from several PBS KIDS properties, such as Sid the Science Kid, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Curious George, and Dinosaur Train, as well as non-digital activities, including books and foam shapes, designed to support the growth of math understanding.

Key findings of the 2013 Ready To Learn study include:

  • Children who used the PBS KIDS math supplement, which incorporated videos, digital games, interactive whiteboards, laptop computers, teacher support, and hands-on math materials, improved significantly in their understanding of the targeted early mathematics skills compared to the control group.
  • Children who used the same technology without the integrated math materials did not experience the same learning gains compared to the control.
  • Teachers who used the math supplement reported significant changes in their confidence and comfort with early mathematics concepts and teaching with technology.


Note: this is an image of the Buddy’s Gem Hunt game, located at: 
Credit: TM and © The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved.
“With this study, we have a better understanding of the contribution transmedia resources can make to early learning settings,” said EDC’s Shelley Pasnik, vice president and director of the Center forChildren and Technology. “Children living in traditionally under-resourced communities were able to build foundational math skills when given necessary supports—in this case engaging digital content, opportunities to practice both on and away from screens, and knowledgeable adults—leaving them better prepared for kindergarten.”

“Although early mathematics achievement has been widely recognized as a strong predictor of later school achievement, many preschool teachers have received limited training when it comes to supporting mathematics,” added Carlin Llorente, senior research social scientist in SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning. “This study’s positive findings are the direct result of giving teachers resources that support the vital role they play in orchestrating children’s learning experiences with media.”

The study was commissioned by the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn initiative to evaluate math learning via interactive media. The initiative creates educational programming and outreach activities for local public television stations and their communities. This study builds on a 2009 Ready To Learn study conducted by EDC and SRI, which showed that young children’s use of digital media led to gains in literacy skills.


Note: this is an image of the Apple Picking game, located at: 
Credit: Curious George is a production of Imagine, WGBH 
and Universal. Curious George and related characters, created 
by Margret and H.A. Rey, are copyrighted and trademarked by 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and used under license. Licensed 
by Universal Studios Licensing LLC. Television Series: © 2013. 
Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
The study is based on a sample of 92 classrooms (46 in New York City and 46 in the San Francisco Bay Area) from preschool agencies and centers serving three- to five-year-old children primarily from low-income households. A total of 157 teachers (84 in New York and 82 in the San Francisco Bay Area) participated in the study.

The 2013 study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education through a Ready To Learn grant to CPB and PBS. The initiative was developed to enhance the reach of, and access to, innovative early math experiences for U.S. children, especially those from low-income families, who often fall behind in mathematics skills at an early age and have difficulty catching up.

“These findings are particularly significant given the growing recognition of the positive relationship between early math skills and later educational achievement,” said Debra Sanchez, senior vice president for Education and Children’s Content at CPB. “Educational leaders are seeking new ways to level the playing field for disadvantaged preschoolers. The study shows that PBS KIDS content, which reaches millions of children each year, can play an important role in enhancing children’s learning opportunities.”

To access the full study and related materials, go to:

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About EDC
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that creates learning opportunities for people around the world, empowering them to pursue healthier, more productive lives. EDC manages 250 projects in 30 countries. EDC’s Center for Children and Technology (CCT) investigates the roles technology can play to improve teaching and learning. Its work covers a range of activities, from prototype design of technology applications to professional development for teachers to strategies for ensuring equitable access to technology resources. to learn more.

About SRI International
Innovations from SRI International have created new industries, billions of dollars of marketplace value, and lasting benefits to society—touching our lives every day. SRI, a nonprofit research and development institute based in Silicon Valley, brings its innovations to the marketplace through technology licensing, new products, and spin-off ventures. Government and business clients come to SRI for pioneering R&D and solutions in computing and communications, chemistry and materials, education, energy, health and pharmaceuticals, national defense, robotics, sensing, and more. Visit SRI’s website and Timeline of Innovation to learn more.

About The Ready To Learn Initiative
The Ready To Learn initiative is a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular focus on reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution and effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach, and research on educational effectiveness.

The contents of this release were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Real McCoy, the Story of the Prohibition Era’s Most Famous Rum Runner

The Real McCoy, the story of the prohibition era’s most famous rum runner, premieres Thursday, November 21 at 9 p.m.

The 1920s - it was the age of prohibition, which gave birth to such iconic characters as the flapper, the private eye and the Mob boss. For many people, it was an age of opportunity.

The Real McCoy tells the fascinating story of William “Bill” McCoy, one of the most famous and respected bootleggers of the prohibition era. McCoy began as a modest boat-builder, but became a national symbol for defying the most unpopular legislation in U.S. history. He was the most wanted man in America, despite the fact that he never actually broke the law.

Born in Syracuse, New York, and a transplant to Florida, Bill McCoy loved sailing and built up a successful career as a skilled yacht builder. But during Prohibition in the 1920s, his business fell on hard times and he found that transporting alcohol could make him richer than he ever imagined. Transporting $28 cases of liquor from the Bahamas to New York, McCoy could make as much as $20,000 in profits from each trip – which was equal to five years salary for him at the time.

Docking his schooner three miles off the coast in international waters, McCoy’s ship Arethusa acted as a floating liquor store for smaller boats to come out and transport the illicit stash to the speakeasies of New York. The quality of McCoy’s spirits were as famous as his ability to transport them along New York’s “rum row.” McCoy’s whiskey, gin and rum were always uncut and of the highest quality. He never dealt in homemade moonshines, only genuine top-quality imported spirits, and his patrons loved him for it. His business practices earned him the nickname “The Real McCoy” and the expression caught on. But this gentleman crook couldn’t run from the law forever.

In November of 1923, the Coast Guard was ordered to arrest Bill McCoy, even if he was in international waters. McCoy tried to flee, but the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca pinned him in off of Seabright, New Jersey and McCoy surrendered. He pleaded guilty and spent nine months in a New Jersey jail. After he was released, he retired to his family in Florida. He was never involved in rum running again. His extraordinary life would make him a household name and forever entwine his exploits as “The Real McCoy” into the fabric of American folklore.

Set for Life: Baby Boomers Over 50 and Out of Work

Set for Life follows three Baby Boomers who struggle to recover from the devastating impact of losing their jobs during the Great Recession. Rhode Island PBS airs the documentary at 8 p.m. on November 21.

Boomers came of age during an ear of prosperity, hope and optimism. They grew up confident that their future would be guaranteed if they worked hard and followed the rules.

Their expectations seemed justified until the Great Recession decimated the economy and 15 million Americans lost their jobs. In clips, Baby Boomers, who are now in their fifties and sixties, express their shock and disbelief. The economic downturn shocked them by exposing that the American Dream is no longer guaranteed.

Joe Price, a third-generation steelworker from Weirton, W.V., has been laid off seven times over the course of his 25-year career in the mill, but his most recent two-year layoff, which began in 2009, appears to be permanent.

Deborah Salim from Conway, S.C. worked for 15 years in the records department at a local community college until she lost her job due to government budget cutbacks in 2008.

George Ross, a Vietnam veteran and an information technology project manager from Livermore, Calif., lost his job in 2008. He searched for work until he was notified that his son, Jason, a Marine, had stepped on a buried IED in Afghanistan while on patrol.

The three main characters they suffer financial woes, self-doubt and health concerns during through the daunting job search process that older unemployed workers face today. Thrust by the Great Recession into a quest they never expected to face at the age of 50-plus also opens deeper questions that are relevant for every individual: What defines my self-worth? What is my definition of happiness? Can I reinvent myself? Can I prepare for and accept change?

As the U.S. economy continues to falter, the themes and issues explored in Set for Life remain timely and topical not only for boomers, but for all Americans.

Brian King, one of our hundred Over 50 and Out of Work interviewees, is the narrator of Set for Life.

Set for Life won “Best Feature Documentary” at the 2012 Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, the Spring 2013 New Jersey Film Festival and the 2013 Northern California International Film Festival. It is also an official selection of Louisville’s International Film Festival, the New Jersey Film Festival, the Northern California International Film Festival and the Queens World Film Festival.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Lively Experiment, week of November 15, 2013

Dyana Koelsch – moderator
Wendy Schiller – political science professor, Brown University
Scott MacKay – Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst   
Maureen Moakley – political science professor, University of Rhode Island
Dave Layman – corporate communications consultant

  • TBA
A Lively Experiment airs on WSBE Rhode Island PBS (36.1) Fridays at 8:30 p.m., with rebroadcasts on Saturdays at 7 P.M. on WSBE Learn (36.2), and Sundays at noon on WSBE Rhode Island PBS.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable: Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 7776.

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; in Rhode Island on Cox 808; Verizon FiOS 478; Full Channel 89; and in Massachusetts on Comcast 294 or 312.

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