Interviews

What We Watch: John Gerbig, Producer and Director

John Gerbig is a producer and director at Wisconsin Public Television. John’s days involve collaborating with colleagues at WPT, as well as with partners from statewide organizations. For the March issue of our member program guide, Airwaves, we caught up with John to learn more about his top public television picks.

Interested in receiving Airwaves in your mailbox? The Airwaves program guide is mailed to supporters who contribute $35 or more to Wisconsin Public Television. Learn more about WPT membership at support.wpt.org.

Can you tell me a little about what your work is like on a daily basis?
Sometimes I’ll spend the entire day in my office working on budgets and schedules, or logging footage and writing scripts.  The next day, I may be scouting a new location for an upcoming production, or sitting in the control room directing a multi-camera shoot. And the following day, I might be out on the road with a videographer gathering footage or collaborating with an editor on the final cut for a project I’ve been working on for weeks. 

More often than not, however, my days consist of a combination of activities and involve working with a number of very talented people here at WPT, as well as within the various organizations we partner with, including the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA), the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Overture Center for the Arts and the UW Varsity Band, to name just a few. 

UW Varsity Band Spring Concert

What is your favorite part of your job at WPT?
What I like most about my job is the variety.  Over the past 20+ years, I’ve produced and/or directed concerts (The Final Forte, UW Varsity Band Spring Concert, State Honors Concerts), political events (State of the State Address, Governor’s Inauguration), news & public affairs programs (Here & Now, various debates), kids programming (Get Up and Go! Day), cultural events (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, Wisconsin Remembers 9/11) and sports (UW Badgers football, basketball and hockey). 

But it’s not just the variety of programs – it’s also the variety of roles I get to play on many of these productions:  producer, director, editor, writer, videographer.  I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work on such a diverse array of productions and to have the opportunity to interact with so many of my colleagues in the course of taking these various projects from initial concept all the way through to broadcast.  Seeing a production come together, and knowing that you helped design, create and shape it – and had a lot of fun doing so – is extremely rewarding and satisfying.

If you had to pick, what are your favorite PBS shows – and why?
I really like Live From the Artists Den.  In addition to being a great-looking program with very high production values, I think it does a wonderful job of showcasing and integrating the venues into the performance.  The fact that the locations they feature are typically not your traditional concert halls or arenas just serves to reinforce the notion that the performance you’re seeing is special and unique.  And that, in turn, provides the perfect context for incorporating interviews with the artists into the production. It just all works together really well.

And what are your must-watch WPT shows?
Again, I really enjoy WPT’s great variety of music productions, from specials such as Percussion at Birch Creek to series like 30-Minute Music Hour.  There are many extremely talented artists in Wisconsin, and making their performances available to a statewide audience is something I think we do very well.  I especially enjoy the programs that are part of our Young Performers Initiative. Celebrating the extraordinary achievements of gifted musicians such as those featured in Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte serves not only to recognize their talent, passion and dedication, but also highlights the essential role the arts play in all our lives, as well as the critical importance of arts education to the youngest members of our communities.

Watch “Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte” 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 on-air and online. For more information, visit wpt.org/final-forte.

Finally, what’s your favorite thing about public television?
My favorite aspects of public television – whether it’s nationally-broadcast PBS programs or locally-produced shows here on WPT – are quality, variety and positive messaging.  Be it dramas, documentaries, concerts, specials, you name it. Across the board, public television presents quality programs, with consistently high production values, first-rate acting and writing, and stellar shooting and editing. 

And there really is something for everyone – from innovative children’s programming to award-winning science and arts-related series and some of the most acclaimed historical dramas and narratives on television.  And unlike many programs you find elsewhere, which seem to revel in and reward negative traits like greed, ego, conceit and selfishness, public television tends to concentrate on the positives in our world – the best of what we are and what we can be.

So whatever your age and whatever your interests, you can always find something worth watching on public television.

Five Questions With “Wisconsin Life” Team Member Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward is a producer, editor and videographer for Wisconsin Public Television’s Wisconsin Life project.  A native of Indiana, he moved to the Badger State six years ago and has been a part of Wisconsin Life from the start.  I got a chance to sit down with Ryan and learn more about his experiences with the project – and to get to know the man behind the camera. Continue reading Five Questions With “Wisconsin Life” Team Member Ryan Ward

What We Watch: Kristin Korevec, Special Events Manager

Kristin Korevec is the Special Events Manager at WPT.  For the February issue of our member program guide, Airwaves, we caught up with Kristin to learn about her role – and what she likes to watch on WPT when she’s not busy making event magic happen!

“My co-workers are the best part of my job. I’m inspired and challenged by the people around me every day.” -Kristin Korevec

Continue reading What We Watch: Kristin Korevec, Special Events Manager

Q&A: Meet Tegan Griffith of “American Creed”

In American Creed, premiering 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, historian David Kennedy and a diverse group of Americans come together to explore whether a unifying set of beliefs – an American creed – can prove more powerful than the issues that divide us.

Watch a trailer here.

One of the people who share their stories is Marine veteran and college student Tegan Griffith. A Wisconsin native, Griffith grew up in tiny Wittenberg, in Shawano County, and now attends UW-Stevens Point.

WPT spoke with Griffith to learn more about her background and her take on what unites us.
Continue reading Q&A: Meet Tegan Griffith of “American Creed”

Q&A: John McGivern

As the new year begins, John McGivern is on the road once more, visiting cities across Wisconsin to uncover unique locations in each neighborhood – and meeting the interesting people who make our state’s communities thrive.

We caught up with the host to talk about Around the Corner With John McGivern ahead of the show’s seventh season premiere 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 on Wisconsin Public Television.

You can catch up with McGivern, too, in a series of free community screenings premiering new episodes in the communities they profile!

  • Appleton: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17
    Fox Cities Exhibition Center
  • Middleton: 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22
    Performing Arts Center, Middleton High School
  • Viroqua: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31
    Historic Temple Theatre

Check in for more details posted soon at wpt.org/events.

Continue reading Q&A: John McGivern

What We Watch: Rodney Lambright II – TV Artist, Animator & Producer

Rodney Lambright II is a Television Artist, Animator and Producer in the Scenic and Animation department at Wisconsin Public Television. On a typical day, you’ll find him planning, collaborating, developing and critiquing narrative animation, especially for Wisconsin Life.

For the January issue of our member program guide, Airwaves, we caught up with him to learn about his must-watch shows and why he loves public media. Keep reading to learn more about Rodney!

Continue reading What We Watch: Rodney Lambright II – TV Artist, Animator & Producer

Tribal Histories Come Full Circle

With the final three of twelve Tribal Histories programs premiering in December on WPT, each of Wisconsin’s sovereign Indian nations has now shared some of their own stories, in their own words, with the state.

Mik Derks

“When you hear the word ‘history,’ you don’t know what to expect,” says series producer Mik Derks. “What you expect is not what you’re going to get.”

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe History, the first of the new episodes,  airs 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14.

Derks spoke with Airwaves staff about the project’s culmination. Read on to learn more!

Continue reading Tribal Histories Come Full Circle

Nature returns to Wisconsin with “Charlie and the Curious Otters”

A baby river otter is fed from a bottle.Two weeks, two episodes of Nature with Wisconsin ties… we swear this isn’t just an excuse to post adorable images of baby animals, but it sure is a good opportunity to do so!

“Charlie and the Curious Otters” takes us to the Amazon, the UK, a crystal-clear river in Florida and the Wild Instincts wildlife rehabilitation center outside Rhinelander in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Read on to learn about this unique – and necessary – facility, and how renowned wildlife photographer Charlie Hamilton James discovered what baby otters need to get back into the wild.

Nature: Charlie and the Curious Otters aired 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 on WPT. Check out the full episode below.


Continue reading Nature returns to Wisconsin with “Charlie and the Curious Otters”

What We Watch: Carol Griskavich, Community Education Specialist

As Community Education Specialist at WPT, Carol Griskavich’s “typical day” is anything but typical – working on detailed event logistics or traveling the state to meet with viewers we serve. We sat down with Carol to learn about her role at WPT and her favorite public television programs.

“I could listen to Jacques Pépin read the phonebook.” -Carol Griskavich

Continue reading What We Watch: Carol Griskavich, Community Education Specialist

What We Watch: Pete Schwieger, Major Gifts Associate

As a Major Gifts Associate at WPT, Pete Schwieger is responsible for a lot of the Major Gifts team’s behind-the-scenes operations. This consists of processing gifts, creating acknowledgment letters and renewal appeals, managing mailings, coordinating guest lists for events, and working with donors. We caught up with Pete to learn about his role at WPT and his top public television picks.

Continue reading What We Watch: Pete Schwieger, Major Gifts Associate