Saturday, January 21, 2017

New Home for Bird on the Wire

Nine years after the first post here on, bird on the wire is flying home. Rhode Island PBS announces its news blog has moved to

The posts on blogger may eventually migrate to the site, but for now they will remain here, marking station news and special moments in the station's history.

Come by and visit, bookmark, and return to the new location!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Veterans Day 2016: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Every Thursday in November at 9 p.m., Rhode Island PBS features films profiling local veterans with universal stories of war-time duty and extraordinary courage. These films are the work of award-winning filmmaker Tim Gray (Tim Gray Media), the World War II Foundation, and award-winning cinematographer Jim Karpeichik. These films not only document history for us now and for future generations, but the films tell it through poignant stories of the uncommon valor of those who lived the horrors of war and survived.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 13, of Veterans Day weekend, the World War II Foundation marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with a special advance screening of their newest documentary, Remember Pearl Harbor, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence. Admission is free for veterans. Tickets for all others are available online or at The Vets box office.
November 3 - Navy Heroes of Normandy
The film chronicles the building and dedication of the first-ever United States Navy monument in Normandy, France. Dozens of interviews with Navy D-Day veterans are included. Won New England region Emmy Awards for writing and photography.

November 10 - Uncle Jack: The Manhattan Project and Beyond (Rhode Island PBS Premiere)
The Manhattan Project in World War II was an enormous undertaking that required the efforts of many of the world's most brilliant scientists. Thousands of physicists, mathematicians and engineers were needed to design, build and test the world's first atomic weapon. The United States government did everything in its power to attract these individuals to the top-secret program. One of those assigned to the project was the filmmaker's uncle, John Edmund Gray. Regarded as a pioneer in the field of nuclear energy John Gray was front and center as the evolution of that power from wartime use to peaceful means came to fruition.

November 17 - Omaha Beach: Honor and Sacrifice
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the green 29th Infantry Division faced some of the most brutal fighting on Omaha Beach. In June of 2014, a handful of remaining members of the 29th Infantry Division made a final trip back to Normandy to recognize the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The World War II Foundation was along as these veterans shared their stories and looked over the bluffs of Omaha Beach one last time. The aging veterans also visited the Normandy-American cemetery to say their final goodbyes to their friends who never left Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Local villages and towns also honored the men of D-Day with dozens of celebrations around Normandy.

November 24 - The American St. Nick
The Nazis had outlawed the annual Christmas-related celebration of St. Nicholas Day when they occupied Luxembourg in 1940. Even though American GIs had liberated the town of Wiltz in late 1944, the citizens had no resources left with which to mark their very special holiday. So a group of soldiers of the battle-weary 28th Infantry Division got together and brought back hope and joy back to a small town. One GI, Corporal Richard Brookins, played the role of Saint Nick, costume and all. His sleigh was a U.S. Army jeep. Brookins and the men of the 28th passed out candy and baked goods to the children of Wiltz.

Beginning in 1947, the annual St. Nicholas day became the American St. Nick celebration, complete with someone dressed as Saint Nick in a jeep re-tracing the exact route Dick Brookins took in 1944. A shocked Richard Brookins knew nothing about the annual American Saint Nick celebration in his honor until 1977 when he was invited back to re-create his role. Thousands of people turned out to welcome him. is a World War II Christmas story that spans seven decades and continues to this day.

Stay tuned for more Rhode Island PBS news mid-November about Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

House of Shadows Returns in November

Rhode Island PBS encores House of Shadows by local filmmakers Michael and Karen Iacobbo of Providence Lyceum, LLC. Featured as part of the ongoing Rhode Island PBS series Rhode Island StoriesHouse of Shadows airs Thursday, November 10 at 8 p.m., Saturday, November 12 at 11 p.m., and Sunday, November 13 at 7 p.m.

Filmed at some of Rhode Island’s most beautiful and important historical sites, the hour-long Gothic romance House of Shadows is inspired by the television series Dark Shadows. And, in fact, Connecticut actress Beverly Hayes, who plays Patience Silverfield, the 19th Century mistress of Silverfield Hall in House of Shadows, appeared in the original Dark Shadows.

Beautifully filmed as it moves between present day and 1893, the story explores the strange events that unfold - and the force that manifests - after the mansion in the family of famous Victorian poet Nathaniel Silverfield is taken by eminent domain for a planned flood.

Rhode Island locations showcased in the film include the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum in Providence, the Malbone Estate in Newport, the Governor William Sprague Mansion in Cranston, the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, and the Roger Williams Park in Providence.

With a strong Rhode Island connection through its film locations, the film's cast, too, has local ties. House of Shadows stars Welsh-born actor and former Massachusetts resident Joe Michael Phillips, as Victorian-era poet Nathaniel Silverfield. Actress Jami Tennille of Massachusetts stars as Nathaniel’s fiancĂ©e, Victoria Noble. Connecticut actress Suzanne McCormick narrates House of Shadows and stars as Buffy Silverfield, mistress of the 21st Century estate. Young actor Olivia Sage Pentell, who plays heiress Annabel Lee Silverfield, is also from Connecticut. Rhode Island actor Kevin Cahill plays the villain: Gerard Hawthorne.

Other Rhode Island actors include Lawrence O'Leary as Jeffrey Silverfield, Linda Colvin as Aunt Lacey Silverfield, Josh Passarelli as Toby, Adam Buxbaum as Julian Murk, and Peggy Passarelli as the doctor.

Casting information provided by Providence Lyceum, LLC

BioBlitz: Discovering Nature's Neighborhood Marks Natural History Week

Among the forests, swamps, tidal wetlands, and ocean waves of Narragansett, Rhode Island, more than 200 adult volunteers, school children, working scientists, and avocational naturalists scramble  in early June to tally as many species as possible in one 24-hour period within a designated parcel of land. The event is called BioBlitz. 

BioBlitz: Discovering Nature's Neighborhood is a half-hour documentary that chronicles the annual event from 2013. In honor of Rhode Island Natural History Week, Rhode Island PBS is pleased to encore the film on Thursday, November 3 at 8 p.m. (plus, Saturday, November 5 at 11 p.m. and Sunday November 6 at 7 p.m.)

BioBlitz is a aptly named - scientists and citizen scientists spend one full day and night observing, identifying, and recording as many fish, birds, mammals, insects, fungi, trees, and plants as they can. A special event by any measure, the particular BioBlitz chronicled in the film was made even more memorable for the volunteers  who braved the elements after a tropical storm dumped 4 1/2 inches of rain overnight. Despite the weather, the "Narragansett project," as the 2013 event was called, located 1,265 species of life in the area that included Canonchet Farm, Narrow River, and the Pettaquamscutt Cove.

Hosted by the Rhode Island Natural History Survey annually since 2000 in various sites around Rhode Island, BioBlitz: Discovering Nature's Neighborhood was filmed by the Coastal Institute at University of Rhode Island.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) content over the air on 36.1; on Rhode Island cable: Cox 08/1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08/508HD, Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable: Comcast 819HD (Comcast SD subscribers check local listings for channel), Verizon FiOS 18/518HD; on satellite: Dish 36/7776, DirecTV 36.