Monday, November 17, 2008

Critical Condition: A Rhode Island Prognosis (Nov 20, 8PM)

Since 2002, the number of Rhode Islanders without medical insurance has doubled. Why? Who are Rhode Island's uninsured? Where can they turn for coverage? Why does it cost so much?

These questions - and some surprising answers - are explored in the new Rhode Island PBS production, CRITICAL CONDITION: A RHODE ISLAND PROGNOSIS, written, produced, and directed by Maria Saracen. The one-hour program is divided into two segments: a 30-minute documentary that features RI providers and administrators of health care and health insurance, and a 30-minute in-studio discussion led by WJAR NBC10 Health Check Reporter Barbara Morse Silva. CRITICAL CONDITION: A RHODE ISLAND PROGNOSIS airs at 8 P.M. on Thursday, November 20, followed by the national documentary from P.O.V., Critical Condition at 9 P.M., on WSBE Rhode Island PBS (channel 36, digital 36.1, cable 8, DirecTV 36, Dish 7776).

The documentary features enlightening facts and important commentary from (in order of appearance) Vincent Mor, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Community Health at Brown University; Christopher F. Koller, Health Insurance Commissioner; James E. Purcell, President and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island; Merrill Thomas, MBA, CEO and executive director of the Providence Community Health Centers; Paul J. Tencher, director of communications for the Rhode Island Free Clinic; Dr. Caroline Troise, medical director of the Rhode Island Free Clinic; Gary Alexander, director of the RI Department of Human Services; Dr. Michael Fine, managing director of Health Access RI; K. Nicholas Tsiongas, MD, MPH, past president of the Rhode Island Medical Society; Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts; and Edward J. Quinlan, president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island (HARI).

Overall, the picture painted by these experts is not very encouraging but, considering the national debate, it should come as no surprise. What may be surprising to viewers are some of the myth-shattering facts about health care and medical insurance in RI. Plus, there are a few bright spots presented, even if they will not materialize overnight.

WJAR NBC10 Health Check Reporter Barbara Morse Silva expands on some of the issues raised in the documentary in a probative discussion with Dr. David Gifford, director of the RI Department of Health; John Cogan, executive assistant for Policy and Program Review in the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner; and Rajiv Kumar, founder and chairman of Shape Up RI. The lively discussion also examines the availability of health care services in Rhode Island, doctor’s fee-for-service incentives, the importance of preventative health care, the health care costs and outcomes of other countries, and the future of health care in RI.

Following the local perspective, Rhode Island PBS presents the national documentary from P.O.V., Critical Condition, at 9 P.M. Roger Weisberg (Waging a Living, P.O.V. 2006) puts a human face on the nation's growing health care crisis by capturing the harrowing struggles of four critically ill Americans who discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, home, savings, and even their lives. Filmed in verité style, Critical Condition offers a moving and invaluable exposé at a time when the nation is debating how to extend health insurance to all Americans.

Production of CRITICAL CONDITION: A RHODE ISLAND PROGNOSIS and local broadcast of P.O.V. Critical Condition are part of the Critical Condition Outreach Campaign, co-managed by P.O.V. and Outreach Extensions, and made possible by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the California Endowment, the California Health Care Foundation, the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, the Fledgling Fund, the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Park Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Spunk Fund and the Trull Foundation.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spotlight is on Rhode Island Artists Tonight

At 8 PM tonight, Struggle in Steel features the monumental works of Donald Gerola, the signature sculptor of the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative. Shot on location at various places throughout Rhode Island, the film explores Gerola’s idiosyncratic creative and working process, fabricating pieces that range from intimate atrium accents to monumental monsters upwards of 40 feet.

Then at 8:30, NetWorks2008: Rhode Island Artists profiles three visual artists: Walter Feldman, Timothy Philbrick, and Toots Zynsky. NetWorks 2008: Rhode Island Artists is collection of short films featuring selected contemporary RI artists, including their works and interviews in their studios.

NetWorks 2008 is actually an exhibition platform curated by Dr. Joseph Chazan and Umberto Crenca, of AS220. This exhibit highlights the work and achievement of these diverse and influential RI artists. This unique project brings together an unprecedented and diverse range of collaborating art institutions to celebrate the rich creative energy of Rhode Island.

Keep an eye out for additional episodes; there were 15 artist profiles recorded.

Maya & Miguel Special Guests at Latino Expo

On Saturday and Sunday, November 15 & 16, the 2008 Latino Expo will be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center, from noon to 5 PM each day. It's a day for families, with lots of food, music, and activities - including a visit from PBS Kids Maya & Miguel. It's also a way for businesses to make connections. Rhode Island PBS will have a booth, so stop by and say hello. Want more info? There only one logical place to go:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Look at the HIDDEN ASSETS Beneath Your Feet

Beneath our feet runs the unseen, complex network that powers our lives.
And it's crumbling.

Water. Where does it come from? Where does it go? We don't think about it much.
That's about to change.

Wrapping up the events and activities during October - Rhode Island Water Infrastructure Month - WSBE Rhode Island PBS will air two important programs on October 30, beginning at 8 PM (channel 36, digital 36.1, RI cable 8, DirecTV36, Dish 7776).

The first program, Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure, is a national documentary that explores the history, engineering, and political and economic challenges of our water infrastructure, and engages communities in local discussion about public water and wastewater issues.

Then at 9:30, stay tuned for Hidden Assets: Rhode Island's Water Infrastructure. Take a look underground at the miles and miles of pipes - some buried more than a century ago - that comprise our Rhode Island water distribution and treatment system. Representing the full water cycle - drinking, waste, and storm - the men and women charged with keeping our water safe speak out.

This Rhode Island PBS production is moderated by URI Professor Maureen Moakley, and features local water infrastructure experts: W. Michael Sullivan, Ph.D., director of the RI Department of Environmental Management; Raymond J. Marshall, PE, the executive director of the Narragansett Bay Commission; Pamela Marchand, chief engineer and general manager of the Providence Water Supply Board; and Anthony Simeone, executive director of RI
Clean Water Finance Agency.

Local broadcast of Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure and
production of Hidden Assets: Rhode Island’s Water Infrastructure is made
possible in part by WPSU Penn State Public Broadcasting, the RI Clean Water
Finance Agency, the RI Department of Environmental Management, the RI
Department of Health, the Narragansett Water Pollution Control Association,
and the RI Water Works Association.

Crossing the Line Tonight

With Barack Obama in the Presidential race, mixed-race issues, diversity, and the politics of language have come into focus. They are essential things to consider with respect to freedom of speech.

Teja Arboleda's documentary, Crossing The Line: Multiracial Comedians is a timely one-hour documentary on race and humor, and who gets to say what. It airs tonight at 9PM - and it's the film's television premiere! It will be available to other PBS stations nationwide in November.

In Teja's words:

"The day I arrived in LA in November of 2006 to begin shooting this documentary, television’s Seinfeld star Michael Richards lost his cool to hecklers and retaliated with the ‘N’ word. Subsequently, Rosie O’Donnell, Don Imus, Senator McCain and others continue to cross the line without real consequence.

In today’s world of race-relations, immigration and entertainment, the ultimate question is: where is the line, and who can cross it?

Exploring these questions exposes the very nature of where pain and laughter come from in a racially divided world. Caught in the cross– fire are millions of bi-racial and multiracial Americans, and competing against the mainstream on all counts, humorists and comedians provide meaningful insight into what really divides us.

Crossing lines of racial, ethnic, and cultural acceptability by their very existence, multiracial comedians reveal that meanings of race vary across ethnic combination, gender, place, and time."

The film features the experiences, perspectives, and performances of American comedians of more than one racial ancestry–Sunda Croonquist (Swedish/African), Kate Rigg (Indonesian/ Australian/ Canadian/ Nuyorasian), James Connolly (Mexican/ Irish), Mark Yaffee (Navajo/ Mexican/ Scots-Irish), among others, and is based on Dr. Darby Li Po Price’s dissertation “Mixed Laughter: Mediating Multiracial Identities in American Ethnic Comedy.”

About Arboleda: Filipino-Chinese, African-American, Native-American, German-Danish, Teja has created programs for PBS, ABC, Discovery and Inc. 500 corporations.

He was AD/Editor for FRONTLINE, Say Brother (received an EMMY Award), and La Plaza at WGBH-TV (PBS), and produced for Chronicle on ABC (New England). He created, directed and starred in Ethnic Man!, and the six part educational series Diversity Elementary, both of which aired on PBS.

He has performed over 500 comedy shows on race and ethnic issues throughout 48 states, and is the author of In The Shadow of Race. Arboleda is Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Communications at The New England Institute of Art.

Friday, September 26, 2008

An Evening Uncorked!

It's one of the station's best events. The food is phenomenal, the variety of wines is amazing, and the fun is... over the top. Technically, it's our annual wine auction, but it really is a wine event - "An Evening Uncorked!"

The image to the left is our publicity materials for this year - a quick way to convey what the event is about. When I considered how to describe the event, I was surprised to find the right words on both ends of the scale - not quite opposite, but certainly in high contrast to each other.

The event really is at the same time elegant and casual (we all put on nice clothes but we don't put on airs), intimate and sociable (we sit at tables in small groups, but there's so much mingling all night) , epicurean and philanthropic (the foods and wines stoke our gustatory pleasure - which is pretty self-focused - but we gather to generously raise money for Rhode Island PBS).

For this, our eighth consecutive year, we return on October 3rd to the site of the original wine event: the historic Roger Williams Park Casino. This stately historic mansion is a lovely setting for this event, and it's nice to be back.

Tickets are $100 per person (table of 10 for $900) and include an elaborate wine tasting reception at 6, featuring international and domestic wines, and passed hors d'oeuvres; formal gourmet dinner and dessert at 7:30, and wine with dinner.

During the reception, browse the silent auction of collectible wines, bar and beverage gifts and accessories... and always a few tempting surprises. After dinner, the live auction introduces a variety of rare and fine wines, and unique dining and entertainment packages.

Here's a small sample of the offerings:

  • Seven-course dinner and wine tasting in your home by Gracie's Restaurant
  • Vertical selection of classified Bourdeaux from the 2000 vintage
  • Nine-bottle collection of top-rated California and Washington red wines
  • Three-bottle collection of Peter Michael wines
  • Overnight stay and dinner at the The Renaissance Providence Hotel
Visit our Web site ( to see other items - even place a proxy bid if you can't attend!

* * * * *
Have you attended An Evening Uncorked in the past? Have any stories or memories you wish to share?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rhode Island's Schools: Where We Stand

In 1995, America’s college graduation rate was first in the world. Ten years later, it ranked 15th. As so many nations around the world continue to improve their systems of education, America can no longer afford to maintain the status quo. In an ever-changing, increasingly competitive global economy, is the United States doing all it can to prepare its students to win jobs and maintain a robust economy?

What about the state of education in our own state? With 39 cities and towns, and almost as many independent school districts, how do Rhode Island's trends in public education differ from national trends, and how are they the same? What's working, what isn't, and why? What innovations are being considered to improve student retention and graduation rates? More important than raising numbers, what is being done to ensure that the quality of preparation adequately equips our children with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and in the workplace?

These questions and more will be addressed in the WSBE Rhode Island PBS production, RHODE ISLAND'S SCHOOLS: WHERE WE STAND. The 30-minute program, hosted by Paul Zangari, airs tonight, Thursday, September 25, at 9 PM, after broadcast of the national documentary, WHERE WE STAND: AMERICA’S SCHOOLS IN THE 21ST CENTURY at 8 PM.

Representing the spectrum of public education, panelists on RHODE ISLAND'S SCHOOLS: WHERE WE STAND will include Virginia Harnois, chairperson of the Smithfield (RI) School Committee and president-elect of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees; John L. Pini, executive director of the Rhode Island School Superintendants Association; John R. Golden, executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Principals; Raymond J. Pouliot, vice president of the National Education Association Rhode Island.

On the national scene, WHERE WE STAND: America’s Schools in the 21st Century presents a frank evaluation of our educational system’s strengths and weaknesses. Hosted by Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the documentary will visit schools throughout Ohio, an important swing state that represents a range of socioeconomic and geographic school districts. The program features schools in urban Cincinnati, suburban Columbus, and rural Belpre.

As for the local discussion, the half hour flew by during taping last week, and even seemed to end abruptly, leaving so much more to discuss. The panelists - each offering excellent perspectives and insights - seemed to feel it, too; they were just getting warmed up by wrap-up.

Look for more from this panel in a future program. We barely scratched the surface of this ongoing topic, and they all agreed to come back again.

In fact, what do you think about a quarterly report on Rhode Island schools? Sort of a televised report card?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A FATHER'S JOURNEY TO IRAQ at Latin Film Festival

When Warwick resident Pablo Mijares decided to visit his soldier son in Iraq, Pablo packed up his video and still cameras, and took off on an adventure other parents of military personnel can only imagine.

Both as a producer-director at WSBE Rhode Island PBS and as a still photographer, Pablo Mijares chronicled his visit to the Iraqi war zone in a unique media journal, "A Father's Journey to Iraq." Originally aired on Rhode Island PBS as part of the New England Portrait series, this 30-minute piece features compelling and exclusive footage of sites and sights few civilians are permitted to see.

Now, the Latin American Film Festival brings a new dimension to the story by screening the production, NEW ENGLAND PORTRAIT: A FATHER'S JOURNEY TO IRAQ, twice this week.

The first screening is on Friday, September 26 at 4 p.m., at the Columbus Theater & Studio, 270 Broadway, Providence, 401-621-9660.

The second screening is on Saturday, September 27 beginning at 8 p.m., and the RISD Auditorium, 17 Canal Street, in Downtown Providence.

To see the entire festival schedule, visit

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

WANTED: Independent Filmmakers

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More Than Two Dozen Viewers Seek Help During Men Get Depression

Eight busy professionals devoted two hours of their time at Rhode Island PBS studios last Thursday night to do what they love and do best: LISTEN, answer questions, offer hope.

The volunteers - officers and members of the board of directors of the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (MHARI) in Pawtucket - fielded more than 30 phone calls in response to the Rhode Island PBS August 28th broadcast of Men Get Depression. The documentary explores depression's corrosive effect on the self, relationships, and careers, through the intimate profiles of real men, including a former NFL Quarterback, a Fortune 500 CEO, an Iraq War veteran, a university professor, a pastor, and others.

Thirty calls came in during the one-hour broadcast and for 30 minutes after; two more calls, referring to the documentary, came into the MHARI office the next day.

Rhode Island PBS provided the phone bank and ran a "crawl" across the lower third of the television screen during the broadcast, inviting viewers to speak with local mental health specialists who were waiting to take calls.

The phones were quiet for about the first 10 minutes while the men featured in the documentary introduced their stories. All of a sudden, the phones began to ring and, soon, all eight specially trained volunteers were busy providing information and making referrals to treatment resources. The MHARI officers and board members who staffed the phones were Vivian Weisman, executive director; Scotti Didonato, president; Tricia S. O'Neil, CFA, treasurer; H. Reed Cosper, Esq., mental health advocate for the state of Rhode Island; Nicholas Trott Long, Esq.; Deb Morais; Mark Fields; and Kristen O'Neil.

At 9:45 PM – 15 minutes after the show ended – new calls were still coming in, and all eight volunteers were still on the phones.

MHARI Executive Director Vivian Weisman reports that 14 calls were from men seeking information for themselves; 18 calls were from women, 11 of whom were calling about a male family member. Twelve callers left contact information for follow-up.

"Depression is treatable," Ms. Weisman said. "But it takes that first step."

Last Thursday, 32 people took that important first step.

This is the power of local public television – making the connections that make a real difference in people's lives. It's a unique role, one only public television can fill.

Contact the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island by calling 401-726-2285, or by e-mailing

For more information about Men Get Depression, visit

Friday, June 27, 2008

Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North

More than a decade ago, first-time filmmaker Katrina Browne made a troubling discovery — her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. In her film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, she and nine fellow descendants of the DeWolf family set off to retrace the trade triangle: from their ancestors' old homestead in Bristol, Rhode Island, to slave forts in Ghana, to sugar plantation ruins in Cuba.

Ten years from inception to debut, the film is part of the PBS series P.O.V., and airs on Rhode Island PBS on Thursday, July 3 at 9 PM (we're on channel 36 / digital 36.1 / RI cable 8 / DirecTV 36 / Dish Network 7776); night-owl Cox and Comcast cable subscribers can catch a rebroadcast on July 5 at 1:30 AM.

As the film recounts, the DeWolf name has been honored through generations, both in the Bristol and on the national stage. Family members have been prominent citizens: professors, writers, legislators, philanthropists, Episcopal priests and bishops. If the DeWolfs' slave trading was mentioned at all, it was in an offhand way, with reference to scoundrels and rapscallions.

Then Browne's grandmother opened the door a crack. She wrote a DeWolf history booklet with a brief but pointed reference to the slave trade, which caused Browne to look deeper. What Browne learned in her research, coupled with the journey she undertook with other DeWolf descendants to retrace early New England's infamous trade in rum, slaves and sugar, revealed secrets hidden in plain sight. Archival documents — from logs and diaries to detailed business correspondence, canceled checks and sales records detailing a global economy — unsettle not just a family, but also a nation's assumptions about its not-so-distant history.

Technically, this film is a well-structured, nicely photographed, and finely edited cinema verité documentary. Browne is looking for the truth about her family, and she goes about trying to keep her filming of it candid and truthful.

When the film presents historical evidence and explores the poignant and pointed personal struggles family members undergo when facing these facts, the film is fascinating and compelling. The filmmaker, however, tries to cast a wider philosophical net. Whether the conclusions reached in this personal family story can be successfully applied to a broad audience will be a controversy best left to the viewers to debate. Either way, it's a thoughtful and provocative look at an aspect of Rhode Island history not widely known.

Watch the film, (then the second short documentary that follows it) and then talk about them here.

What do you think about Traces of the Trade?
Did you know that quiet beautiful Bristol was such an important hub of the slave trade? (By the way, if you really had no idea, then you obviously haven't experienced the comprehensive multi-media series by Paul Davis in The Providence Journal. Check it out!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


On Saturday, May 10th, at the University of Rhode Island's Independence Hall (good location for this event in my opinion), Operation Clean Government (OCG) held its second annual corruption forum, focusing this year on the legacy of corruption at the Rhode Island General Assembly.

OCG assembled an extraordinary panel of experienced government watchdogs, critics, and reporters (list below) for the 90-minute forum. Edited for television, the one-hour program will air on WSBE Rhode Island PBS on Thursday, June 19 at 10 PM. Cox and Comcast subscribers can watch a re-broadcast on Saturday, June 21 at 2:30 AM.

Former Providence news anchor and political commentator Dave Layman moderates the discussion, targeting each panelist with tough, provocative questions focusing on legislative corruption, its history, the massing of power, how bad the problem is and, most importantly, what needs to be done about it. The audience also poses questions directly to the panelists.

Although at times the camera placement leaves something to be desired, the content is as real as it gets - putting you right in one of those lecture hall seats. Candid opinions, keen insights, astonishing facts, and useful information mark the program as "must watch."

In alphabetical order, panelists are:

Edward Achorn - The Providence Journal deputy editorial editor

Arthur "Chuck" Barton - President of Operation Clean Government

Ross Cheit - Associate Professor of Political Science at Brown University and Rhode Island Ethics Commissioner

John DePetro - NewsTalk 630 WPRO-AM talk show host

Kenneth Payne - Former senior policy advisor to the Rhode Island State Senate and former director of the League of Cities and Towns

Bill Rappleye - NBC10 News legislative and political reporter

Arlene Violet - Veteran radio talk show host, political columnist, TV commentator, and former R.I. Attorney General

We welcome your views about the program, and what's discussed.


Today, we're pleased to present a guest writer - our summer intern Sarah, who studies at Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania. Sarah viewed the film, HIDDEN IN THE LEAVES, and these are her impressions...

Lyme disease in recent years has begun to affect a majority of people rather than a minority, especially in the New England area. The short film, Hidden in the Leaves, courtesy of the University of Rhode Island, is a helpful in depth research about Lyme disease.

Dr. Thomas Mather, a professor of entomology at the University of Rhode Island, has been doing research since 1993 in reported places where people have developed Lyme disease. His detailed research is evident throughout this documentary. It includes all the information necessary to know about Lyme disease including its background, symptoms, locations and hosts, prevention, and much more.

This film gives an in depth look at the unique miniature tick insect. Though at times a turn of disgust may be necessary - for the tick’s infectiousness remains truly disturbing - it is indeed a must see. The compelling knowledge learned concerning the sickness and prevention from these ticks certainly keeps one on the edge of the seat.

Watching this film taught me to keep my distance from tick-infested areas, and if a bite did occur, it gave the know-how to take action promptly. Thank you, URI!


Thank YOU, Sarah! HIDDEN IN THE LEAVES can be seen Wednesday, June 18 at 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, June 22 at 11:30 a.m.; and Friday, June 27 at 7 p.m. Check our listings ( for additional dates and times - this is an important topic.

Do you have a story to share about ticks?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Calling All Inventors!

Ever have a great idea for an invention, but didn't quite know how to make it happen?

Well, then, Saturday, May 17 just might be your lucky day.

Everyday Edisons, a nationally televised PBS reality series chronicling modern inventors and the development of their inventions, will host an open casting call for Season Three in Providence, R.I., at the Rhode Island Convention Center (Ballroom level), One Sabin Street.

Everyday Edisons invites all inventors and innovators with new product concepts to attend the casting call. Inventors can register from 7 AM until 1 PM. The day ends when all registered ideas have been reviewed. (Think of it as an Antiques Roadshow event for inventors.)

The Everyday Edisons panel of judges, including product development and patent law experts, provides a forum for participants to present and demonstrate original ideas. Everyday Edisons considers all categories of invention, ranging from sketched ideas and simple concepts to detailed, patented designs and factory prototypes or manufactured samples.

The casting call features a full day of complimentary seminars open to the public, including an opportunity to meet with experts from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), the editor-in-chief of Inventors Digest magazine and experts within the product development field.

In addition to screening for inventions to feature on the show, representatives from major national retailers, including The Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, QVC, Staples, The Sharper Image, Dick’s Sporting Goods and buybuyBABY will be on site reviewing more advanced prototypes and finished products.

“Having a great idea and making money from that idea are two distinct accomplishments in American innovation,” said Louis Foreman, executive producer and lead judge. “If you can dream it, we can help make it come true.”

The Everyday Edisons judges will select 10 to 12 inventors to be featured in Season Three, which chronicles the inventors as their concept is refined, produced, marketed, and sold. The series invests more than $300,000 into the comprehensive development of each chosen invention at no cost to the inventors. Selected “Everyday Edisons” will have their inventions commercialized and receive a 20-year annuity on all product sales.

Everyday Edisons is produced with the cooperation of the USPTO. Everyday Edisons is currently in production of Season Two, which premieres on Rhode Island PBS in July 2008.

Everyday Edisons casting calls are free and open to the public. Inventors seeking local assistance will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from local inventor groups. Registration forms, directions, maps, FAQ’s and day-of details are available online at Participants must complete and provide all registration forms in order to audition. Doors open to the public at 7 a.m. and registration closes at 1 p.m. The event will continue throughout the day until all registered ideas have been reviewed.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New England Portrait Nominated for Emmy Award

They make their livelihood in the most dangerous career in the United States. Yet, there isn’t another job in the world they would rather do.

They are commercial fishermen, and their natural attraction and devotion to the sea courses through their veins as if it were a genetic trait. In fact, many fishermen today are sons and grandsons of fishermen.

But their love of life on the high seas brings with it the high risk of tragedy. The watery partner that yields the stock of their trade can also turn on them in the blink of an eye and exact the ultimate price.

This tradition of dedication against the physical and regulatory challenges of life as a commercial fisherman in Gloucester, MA, and Point Judith, RI, was recently showcased in an episode of New England Portrait, the WSBE Rhode Island PBS production hosted and produced by Mary Lou Palumbo. That episode, entitled, “The Loss of Life at Sea: Remembering New England Fishermen,” has been nominated for a Boston / New England Emmy® award in the Environmental Program category.

The award ceremony will be held in Boston on Saturday, May 10. We've got our fingers crossed. : )

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Let's Go Down to the Diner!"

WSBE Production New England Portrait Launches New Season with Nostalgic Look at Local Diners

New England Portrait, the Emmy®-nominated WSBE series about unique and interesting people, sites, and events that give our locale such character, kicks off its second season with a nostalgic look at local diners during a special premiere party.

On Wednesday, May 14 at 6 PM, New England Portrait debuts "The History of New England Diners" at the Culinary Arts Museum on the Harborside Campus of Johnson & Wales University, 315 Harborside Boulevard in Providence.

In the 30-minute preview, Richard Gutman, director and curator of the Culinary Arts Museum, provides historical context, while owners and patrons of area diners add local color and humor. The diners profiled in the episode include Miss Worcester in Worcester, MA; Shawmut Diner in New Bedford, MA; Hope Diner in Bristol, RI; Champ’s Diner in Woonsocket, RI; and Bishop’s Diner in Newport, RI. The episode also includes an original theme song, “Let’s Go Down to the Diner,” composed for the program by Jon Marable.

During the two-hour party, music will be provided by WRIK Entertainment, and refreshments will be served. Tickets are $25 per person, and all proceeds benefit Rhode Island PBS.

For reservations, please call 401-222-3636 ext. 203, by May 11.

New England Portrait is a production of WSBE Rhode Island PBS, and hosted and produced by Mary Lou Palumbo. Last season, a New England Portrait episode featuring commercial fishermen in Gloucester, MA, and Point Judith, RI, was nominated for a 2008 Emmy® from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Boston / New England Chapter.

The weekly series airs Mondays at 7PM on WSBE channel 36, digital 36.1, RI cable 8, DirecTV 36, and Dish 7776; Massachusetts cable subscribers should check local cable listings for channel number.

If you can't make it to the preview party on Wednesday, New England Portrait "The History of New England Diners" will air on Rhode Island PBS television on June 2 at 7 PM, and Sunday morning, June 8 at 11:30 AM.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Auction Day 1

Station personnel are buzzing around making sure things are in place for today's Day 1 of the 2008 Rhode Island PBS Spring Auction.

I can see it on our auction director's face - even after the many weeks (OK, it's actually been months) of long hours and hard work, Jeff Hartley has about him an exhilaration that's simply contagious. The quality of the auction items, the quantity and dollar amount of early online bids, and the purpose for which he and so many others have been working - has all come together and is ready to roll.

And what a way to roll! By 5:30 tonight, after the office staff has gone home, the quiet station will begin filling with the raucous laughter and friendly greetings of dozens of volunteers of all ages - many of whom have worked the auction together for years. Good food, great companions, and the excitement and tension of a live broadcast all contribute to a buoyant, carnival-like atmosphere. And with the dynamic personalities of the dedicated volunteers, guest auctioneers, and staff, you can always count on a few surprises. Hartley's Law: It is much easier to get serious work accomplished when the workers are happy. : )

If you take a moment to browse the latest schedule of items, you'll find that there really is something for everyone. Moreover, there's something to fit everyone's budget. (We understand how tight money is - for us, it's always tight; we operate all year long pinching the copper Lincolns and stretching the Washingtons!) By providing auction items of wide ranging value, many more people who'd love to support Rhode Island PBS can do so. Just bid to win.

Find what fits, at the Rhode Island PBS Spring Auction. Day 1 of the televised auction begins tonight at 7.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Than Just TV

A little weekend project.

Actually, the photos in the video represent more than a year of "out of the box" community activities - many free for members - hosted by Rhode Island PBS.

See what your membership supports? And you thought it was just excellent programming...

Hats off to our partners in the video: Providence Children's Museum, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Warwick Mall, Museum of Natural History & Planetarium, Edaville USA, Mystic Aquarium, Providence Bruins and Dunkin' Donuts Center, Feinstein IMAX Theatre, Bank of America Skating Center, Squantum Association, RI Broadcasters Association, Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence Renaissance Hotel, and RI Community Food Bank.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bush's War

From the horror of 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq; the truth about WMD to the rise of an insurgency; the scandal of Abu Ghraib to the strategy of the surge—for six years, FRONTLINE has revealed the defining stories of the war on terror in meticulous detail, and the political dramas that played out at the highest levels of power and influence.

Now, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the full saga unfolds in the two-part FRONTLINE special Bush's War, airing on Rhode Island PBS on Thursdays, April 3, from 9 to 11:30 P.M. and April 10, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET.

Drawing on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism — more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on the war on terror - combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, Bush's War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in our nation's history.

Watch the clip (but ignore the publicized dates). Watch the documentary. Share your comments.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

TONIGHT - He's the Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island

The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island makes its national television debut later this year, but you can see it FIRST exclusively on Rhode Island PBS tonight at 8 PM. For details and to watch a short clip, scroll down to our March 13 blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Gefilte Fish Chronicles

Here's a preview of a heartwarming documentary, THE GEFILTE FISH CHRONICLES.

With all the wonderful chaos of preparing for a large gathering of family, The Gefilte Fish Chronicles honors the rich tradition of Pesach (Passover) with an intimate and candid look at the Dubroff family celebration. But don't be misled - no matter what your heritage is, you will find your OWN family members among these charming storytellers.

The Gefilte Fish Chronicles in a funny, touching, and universally familiar story of love, of tradition, and of generational family unity - and it's reality television the way it should be!

Watch the entire film on Wednesday, APRIL 16 at 8 PM.


Here's an advance look at CARING FOR YOUR PARENTS, an important documentary we're airing on Wednesday, APRIL 16 at 9 PM.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring (Auction) Fever

If it's Spring, it's time for the Rhode Island PBS SPRING AUCTION!

Sure enough, today is the first day of online bidding for Spotlight items!

Spotlight items (formerly called Majors and Specials) are our most sought after, unique, and exciting donations. When you click on an item, you'll find all the details you need to make an informed bid, including images, a link to the donor's website, and the sell-off time. Spotlight items will be auctioned online only on Saturday, April 26.

Hundreds of other great items will be available for live auction each night during our televised auction April 21 - April 26, starting at 7 PM Monday-Friday, and at 5PM on Saturday.

Don't Miss That Great Buy Again!

This year, the rapid response from our hundreds of generous donors combined flawlessly with advanced technology - and a lot of sweat and organization by our two auction staff - to make an important improvement we've been dreaming of for years. For the first time ever, the entire schedule of items - the day and time (within a half hour) that an item will be auctioned - is available online in advance of the televised auction. In fact, the schedule is ready right NOW.

This improvement allows us to show you that we acknowledge and respect your limited viewing time. As exciting and important as the live auction is - it's THE priority for all station staff for that entire week - we know you may not be able to dedicate your week glued to your television for four hours a night, waiting for those items you know we'll be featuring at some point.

Now, if you invest a little time reviewing the schedule first, you can KNOW when we'll auction off all those great buys that peak your interest, and you can plan to watch, bid, and WIN!

Everybody Wins

The Spring Auction is the biggest fund raising event for the station. The money we raise from winning bids goes a long way in keeping the programs you love to watch on Rhode Island PBS.

The auction is a win-win-WIN deal:

1. Local businesses win by making a tax-deductible charitable donation, and receiving on-air television recognition for their generosity.
2. High bidders win by supporting high quality programs and specials on Rhode Island PBS, and get great deals for their generosity.
3. Rhode Island PBS wins by getting the funds we need to deliver the quality programming you just can't find on other channels, without commercial interruption.

Browse online SPOTLIGHT items here

Review the live auction SCHEDULE here

Thursday, March 20, 2008

AFTERMATH: The Station Fire Five Years Later

It doesn't happen often enough, but sometimes government red tape simply evaporates just in time to accomplish some real good.

That's exactly what happened late last week when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a waiver to Rhode Island PBS to simulcast a charity concert with VH1 to benefit The Station nightclub fire survivors and their families. The one-hour television program, VH1 Classic Presents: AFTERMATH: The Station Fire Five Years Later, airs Sunday night, March 23, from 10-11 P.M. It's fitting that the show should air on Easter Sunday - the February 25 concert at the Dunkin Donuts Center was called "Phoenix Rising."

Rhode Island PBS is simulcasting the show so viewers without pay television service can watch it over the air on channel 36. The show will be simulcast on VH1 Classic, on VH1, and on MHD: Music High Definition.

By FCC rules, public television stations are restricted from using their airtime to directly raise funds for organizations other than themselves. Because the concert benefits The Station Family Fund, Rhode Island PBS had to seek special approval by the FCC to air the show.

The "Phoenix Rising" charity concert featured an eclectic mix of classic rock and country music, New England artists and nationally-known acts. Twisted Sister, Winger, and Tesla performed, as did Aaron Lewis of Staind and Eric Martin of Mr. Big. Country artists taking part included John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and Dierks Bentley.

A one-hour special created from the four-hour concert, VH1 Classic Presents: AFTERMATH: The Station Fire Five Years Later will feature concert highlights from the Phoenix Rising! Musicians United to Benefit the Victims of the Station Nightclub Fire and include interviews with the music fans who survived the horrific fire five years ago.

All proceeds benefit The Station Family Fund, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization founded by survivors of The Station Nightclub fire. The Station Family Fund is committed to providing survivor relief, including costs of ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.

It's an honor for Rhode Island PBS to help bring this program to the public.

Bret Michaels introduces the show.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about the live concert if you attended, about the televised version of the show, or about The Station nightclub fire.

Narragansetts tell their Stories in Stone

From the rhythmic chink of a chisel on granite to the twittering flute over the placid landscape, Stories in Stone casts a mystical enchantment right from the beginning. What follows for the next 26 minutes measures up to – even exceeds – expectations set by the opening.

Stories in Stone is an engaging film about the Narragansett tribal stone masons who, over the last four hundred years, have built many stone walls that wind picturesquely
through the woods of southern New England. Interspersing footage that elegantly captures the beauty of the walls with interviews with tribal elders and members of two prominent Narragansett mason families, producers / directors / writers Marc Levitt and Lilach Dekel weave a story that is both poetic and inspirational. In the photo is Russel Spears, one of South County's master stone masons.Filmed in both video and film, Stories in Stone uses scenic footage and original music to express both the traditional and contemporary aspects of this craft. With no central narrator, Stories in Stone allows the Narragansett to tell their own story.

Stories in Stone began filming in 2002 as a result of Marc Levitt’s enduring interest in stone walls of southern New England. Marc first wrote a story about a stone wall mason in 1983. He conducted oral histories with stone masons at a local storytelling festival in 1986. He worked on a joint photographic/oral history project about the masons of South County, Rhode Island, in 2000 with photographer Mathias Oppersdorff. Now, Marc shares with a wider audience his interest and passion for the walls and their builders.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island

Ahh, the power of motivation!

When I previewed The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island, I was struck by the transformation of the main character (played with perfection by Stephen Thorne) from a bumbling, timid reader of radio copy to a suave, confident - and persuasive - star of the airwaves.

The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island is rich in historical and cultural content. It's also peppered with humorous local Rhode Island references - you can't resist smiling. The double entendres will make you laugh out loud.

The one act play is based on a lost manuscript by Pulitzer Prize winning Rhode Island author Edwin O'Connor (The Last Hurrah). The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island was adapted for stage and screen and directed by Rhode Islander Robert Rose, winner of six Emmy Awards from the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Rose discovered the manuscript while researching O'Connor's biography.

The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island looks like a 1950s television comedy – complete with minimal sets, scene transition wipes, and laugh track. The cast is small but talented: Trinity Repertory Company’s Stephen Thorne; Bob Colonna, winner of the prestigious Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts; and Susan Boyce, national touring entertainer. Rhode Island talent at its best!

The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) has accepted the 30-minute program for distribution to public television stations nationwide. As the presenting station, Rhode Island PBS is able to air the show before its national television premiere later this spring. We're proud to bring it to you!

The Greatest Salesman in Rhode Island will air on WSBE Rhode Island PBS on Wednesday, March 26 at 8 PM.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Prayer in America: A Rhode Island Perspective

Rhode Island is unique in its richly diverse religious community. Perhaps it's not so surprising, considering religious freedom was the basis on which Roger Williams founded the new colony.

On January 24, Rhode Island PBS sponsored an interfaith conference at the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island Multicultural Center in Kingston. The conversation continues.

Later this week and next, Rhode Island PBS presents a thought-provoking two-part documentary entitled PRAYER IN AMERICA. The documentary project enlisted academic advisors with expertise in a variety of faith traditions and historical perspectives to examine this important issue in-depth for the first time. In the short span of two hours (part 1 at 8 PM on Thursday, February 21; part 2 at 8 PM on Thursday, February 28), the documentary covers the history how prayer has shaped the American experience, and how America as a nation has impacted prayer and prayer practices, from crisis to forgiveness, from social justice to civil religion.

Rhode Island leaders representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Native American – and even atheist – perspectives gathered at Rhode Island PBS studios recently for a very special interfaith discussion of issues raised in the documentary, PRAYER IN AMERICA.

Hour one of PRAYER IN AMERICA will air on Thursday, February 21 at 8 PM, followed by the local discussion at 9 PM. The host of both local discussions is Marc Joel Levitt, and his guests for part 1 will be The Reverend Doctor Donald Anderson, Imam Farid Ansari, Rabbi Marc Jagolinzer, former Buddhist monk and community activist Pich Choen, and Narragansett tribal elder Paula Dove Jennings.

The second hour of PRAYER IN AMERICA will air one week later, on Thursday, February 28 at 8 PM. The local discussion at 9 PM includes The Reverend Doctor Liliana DaValle, The Reverend Timothy Burger, The Reverend Father John Codega, The Reverend Doctor Janice Thompson, and Brown University Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Matthew Bagger, PhD.

Seated (left to right): Rev. Dr. Janice Thompson, Rev. Dr. Liliana DaValle, Paula Dove Jennings. Standing (left to right): Fr. John Codega, Marc Levitt, Rabbi Marc Jagolinzer, Rev. Timothy Burger, Rev. Dr. Don Anderson, Dr. Matthew Bagger, Imam Farid Ansari, and Pich Choen.

Production of the local programs is part of an extensive national outreach effort funded by the John Templeton Foundation, and administered through Los Angeles-based Outreach Extensions. Like the film, the outreach campaign is multi-faith in its perspectives and designed to engage and involve the public in a greater discussion of the issues raised in the film. Visit for clips and information.

You are invited to share with us your thoughts and comments about PRAYER IN AMERICA.
What are your own faith traditions?
What is the role of prayer in your own life?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Day TV Screens Go Blank

No, the sky isn't falling.

But if you haven't bought a TV set recently and you receive your television signal over-the-air only (with perhaps a little help from "rabbit ears" or a rooftop antenna), you might think the sky has fallen one year from now when your TV stops working.


Because older TVs receive what are called "analog" signals, and the federal government has mandated that all full-power TV stations must stop transmitting analog signals on February 17, 2009. Forever.

"What? Did you say 'No TV'?"
That depends. Most Rhode Island PBS viewers will not notice any difference because they already subscribe to digital cable or satellite services. However, if you receive your signal over-the-air on an older TV set, you will be affected by the transition and will need to take action to continue watching television.

All public television channels, including digital channels, will continue to be available free of charge to all Americans. But you must have a way to receive the digital signal.

Can I continue to use the TV set I have now?
Sure, but not without making some changes.

Rhode Island PBS is not here to sell new televisions, or to advocate for subscription television services. We are here to provide you with basic information and point you to resources to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

If you subscribe to cable or satellite, chances are very good your access to broadcast channels will not change. Please check your billing statements or contact your television service provider to be sure the equipment in your home meets the digital television standard.

The conversion will impact you if you currently rely only on over-the-air signal on an analog television and a "rabbit ears" or rooftop antenna. Consider also whether you have a second television that is not connected to your cable or satellite service, because it, too, will be affected.
If you depend on over-the-air analog signal to watch television, you have these options:
  1. Buy a converter box.*(see more information below) The digital television (DTV) converter box makes it possible to see digitally broadcast television programs on an older existing analog TV set and allows you to keep your free, over-the-air television service. DTV converter boxes, which will be available for purchase beginning in March 2008, are expected to cost between $40 and $70. A limited supply of coupons is available from the federal government to reduce the price of certain converter boxes by $40. This is a one-time cost for the box; it does not require a monthly service fee.
  2. Buy a new digital television set with a built-in digital tuner.

  3. Subscribe to digital cable or digital satellite television service.
Any of these options will ensure that over-the-air television viewers will continue to receive a picture, but the costs vary with each option.
Whatever you decide, you have until February 17, 2009, to prepare for the digital transition. After that date, you will no longer be able to view your over-the-air broadcasts on your analog TV.
What if I do nothing?
  • If you don't have digital cable or satellite, or
  • If you don't have a newer model TV with a built-in digital tuner, or
  • If you don't buy a digital converter box, your analog television will not work after February 17, 2009. Period.
*How can I get a low-cost converter box?
In order to help consumers with the digital transition mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal government has created a coupon program that will reduce the cost of buying a digital converter box. The coupons (limited to two per household, and available in limited supply) are valued at $40 each, and will be redeemable at select retailers. Some converter boxes will offer enhanced features, but please note that only approved converters are eligible for the Coupon Program. Approved model numbers, locations of retail stores, and other information you need to choose the right converter box will come with your coupon. Also, although you should order your coupon(s) now, coupons will only be mailed when the converters are available in stores in our area.

To learn more about the coupon program, including how and when to request and redeem your coupons, please visit Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. Consumers may also call a toll-free number, 1-888-388-2009 (1-888-DTV-2009). You can also download the fact sheet from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration:
For more information on the digital transition
And if you have any questions, feel free to ask them here!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Announcing School Cancellations Due to Snow

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND (December 19, 2007) – No need to turn the channel on your child's favorite program to find out if a morning snowfall is going to change your plans. WSBE Rhode Island PBS will now broadcast announcements of school cancellations, beginning with the next snow storm.

"We're ready to provide this important service to our viewers," said Rhode Island PBS President Bob Fish. "The technology is now place to get that news on the air for parents," Fish said.

As a member of the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association, Rhode Island PBS has access to the same information as the commercial networks. The announcements of closings at schools and day care centers will appear on the lower third of the screen, while the regular programming continues uninterrupted.

Kathryn Larsen, the station's program director said, "Children can continue to watch their shows while parents can get the information they need."

Preparations are currently underway to also list cancellations on the Rhode Island PBS Web site (