The New World

Watch American Masters: John Muir in the New World at 8 p.m. Monday, April 18 on Wisconsin Public Television.

I can only imagine what it would have been like to live in a time before everything was explored, mapped and developed. Every day would have been an adventure, and lets not forget the amazingly beautiful landscapes you’d get to explore before anyone else set foot on them. I’m jealous John Muir had the opportunity to visit all of these amazing places, but thrilled that much of his legacy still lives on today.

Surviving a Firestorm

Watch Nature: Survivors of the Firestorm at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, April 17 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It’s always amazing to see just how strong the will to survive is. Humans, animals and plants all fight to continue on even after a day that came to be known as Black Saturday. You wouldn’t think that after such a tragedy so many people would be willing to dedicate their time to rescuing and rehabilitating the animals caught in the blaze. Yet kangaroos and even fish were nursed back to health by volunteers at wildlife centers and life has returned to the forests of Victoria.

Alaska Far Away

Watch Director’s Cut Alaska Far Away at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 14 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Colonists boarding a trainMost Americans are familiar with FDR’s New Deal projects such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works of Art Project. But I’m willing to bet few have ever heard of the Matanuska Colonization Project of 1935 – one of the more controversial programs in which the U.S. government relocated 202 families from the Midwest to the wilderness of Alaska to start an experimental farming colony.

I first learned of the project when Joan Juster, co-director of the documentary Alaska Far Away stopped by my desk with some historical photos of the project and a copy of the documentary. By this point, WPT’s Director’s Cut had already seen the film and decided the rest of Wisconsin should too. You can see the film that illustrates the despair of the Great Depression, the creative energy of the New Deal, and the adventure of pioneering in Alaska Thursday night on WPT. At 9 p.m. just before the film, catch Charles Monroe-Kane’s interview with directors Joan Juster and Paul Hill, who spent much of the last two decades recording the stories of Matanuska’s residents.

Children and a man building a house

Learn more about the film at

Secrets of the Bible

Watch NOVA: The Bible’s Buried Secrets at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Ever since I saw the movie Dogma, I have always wondered what all is missing from our modern day Bibles. I mean it should have been obvious that things have been taken out over the years.  The original Bible is about six inches thick and somehow now the whole thing fits into a nice little package that can fit into almost any desk drawer. I’ve also been quite curious about what all happened between the birth of Christ and the days of him performing miracles as an adult.  Seems to be around 20 years missing from the story, hopefully NOVA can provide a few answers.

Motown Sound

Watch In Performance at the White House: The Motown Sound at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Nothing but the best for the President and first lady. The best part is, we get to sit in on the show from the comfort of our own homes. I’m excited to hear some of the classics played live for once, mp3s just don’t do justice to certain songs. Granted they won’t be performed by the original artists, but there’s a pretty good lineup of talented people to keep Motown alive.

The Great Famine

Watch American Experience: The Great Famine at 8:00 p.m. Monday, April 11 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Considered one of the worst natural disasters in Europe, the Russian famine of 1921 is a prime example of the American tradition to help people. For two years Americans fed millions of people in Soviet Russia to save them from Starvation.  Nearly a century later we continue this trend by helping people in countries all over the world recover from natural disasters – yet another reason I’m proud to be an American.

Live Music From the Comfort of Your Home

Enjoy some free live music in your own home this weekend. The 30-Minute Music Hour returns to the studio Saturday to record three new programs or its new season. You’ll get a chance to be part of the virtual studio audience from the comfort of your own home.

Log on to enjoy three live streaming performances. Watch great sets from Carolina Chocolate Drops, Count This Penny, and Optometri starting at 1:15 Saturday!

You're invited: Freedom Riders Event

WPT viewers can watch the powerful new documentary, Freedom Riders: American Experience on television in May. But, an exciting opportunity to preview the film and hear from producers and civil rights experts is coming to Madison next week.

Attend the free public Freedom Riders preview and discussion event with American Experience Executive Producer and UW-Madison Alumnus Mark Samels.

6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12
UW-Madison Microbial Sciences Building
1550 Linden Dr., Madison

Three other experts and civil rights leaders will join Samels on the discussion panel. UW-Madison Associate Professor of History Will Jones, whose work focuses on race, class and work, UW-Madison Alumnus Christopher Hexter who participated in Freedom Summer, a campaign launched in June of 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which until that time had excluded black voters. Vel Phillips was Milwaukee’s first woman alder and first African American alder. She participated in nonviolent protests against discrimination in housing, education and employment during the 1960s.

Free parking for the event is located in lot 36 behind Steenbock Library.

Registration is requested at

Freedom Riders tells the powerful and inspirational story of six months in 1961 when more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives — many endured savage beatings and imprisonment — for traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Watch a preview of the film below.

The event is a collaboration of Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Alumni Association’s UW for You and UW-Madison Department of Afro-American Studies.

Classic Sesame Street Online

Were you raised with Sesame Street? If you were born sometime in the past 43 years, there’s a good chance that you were.

As the lauded children’s program advances through the years, it evolves with each new generation. This ensures that the curricular material always resonates with young learners. But, that also means that each generation has its own personal memory of a distinct era of Sesame Street characters and segments. Now, we can all relive our favorite memories for free on the Web.

Visit the Classic Clips page at this link to explore hundreds of favorite videos, including Monsterpiece Theatre, Star Wars‘ C3PO and R2D2’s visit, Forgetful Jones and many more.

Most of these clips are also available on the Sesame Street YouTube page. I’ve posted my favorite below. Share your favorite in the comments!

The Civil War Revisted

Watch Ken Burns’ The Civil War at 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, April 3-7 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It was 150 years ago that the Civil War tore the United States apart. The bloody war left an unending mark on the country, affecting states and families in states from south to north. (This piece from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explores the ways the war affected Wisconsin.)

And while historians, scholars, history buffs and re-enactors had studied the war since its end, it was never so broadly and deeply accessible to the general public until Ken Burns turned his documentary filmmaker’s eye on the subject. The resulting 12-hour film was a landmark in television history. The film captured America’s attention through its rich narration, in-depth interviews, haunting music and his now iconic style of photo presentation. Critics and viewers raved — in fact, this week, OnMilwaukee TV columnist Tim Cuprisin declared The Civil War “The greatest documentary TV series ever made.”

Next week, WPT offers a chance to revisit the stunning documentary. As you are watching it, explore the program’s companion website, and watch Burns describe the tumultuous creation of the film in the interview below.