Alaskan Bears

Watch Nature: Bears of the Last Frontier at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, May 8 on Wisconsin Public Television.Bear and Cubs

What motivates someone to spend months of their life looking for and following bears? Serious question – I can’t come up with anything. I feel like most people spend their lives hoping to never come face to face with a bear that isn’t on the other side of a twenty-foot pit and a cage.

I guess someone had to do it or we’d be left without ever knowing what bears are really like in everyday life or how they interact with each other. Of course, we now also have the benefit of knowing what not to do around bears to avoid getting mauled.


Where no man had gone before

Watch The Space Age: NASA’s Story at 8 p.m. Tuesdays in May on Wisconsin Public Television.

Described as the final frontier, space exploration has fascinated humans for centuries. It was the focus of science fiction until technology advanced and the space race heated up as countries around the world tried to achieve a number of firsts beyond the bounds of Earth. In the United States, those efforts have been led since 1958 by NASA.

The organization has taken men to the moon, sent observing crafts to the far reaches of the solar system and has uncovered countless new technologies along the way. For myself, the shuttle program has been the physical manifestation of space exploration for most of my life. So, as that program reaches its final stages, this in-depth program about NASA’s history comes at a bittersweet moment. But, even though the shuttle program is set to come to an end soon, our adventurers’ spirit and explorers’ instincts will not. I hope this transition marks the beginning of a new generation of exploration.

While the final mission of the Shuttle Endeavor has been delayed, take a look at the shuttle’s mission overview in this interactive feature.

Live music – on-air and online

Watch Austin City Limits “My Morning Jacket” at 11 p.m. Sunday, April 24 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Austin City Limits continues to be the premiere source for long-form television music performances from some of the finest artists in the world. You can always find this viewer favorite in stunning high-definition on Wisconsin Public Television, but now you can also enjoy full program video on-demand on your computer. Visit Austin City Limit‘s video archive and enjoy performances from Jimmy Cliff, Foo Fighters and Willie Nelson.

My favorite show from this season was Pearl Jam. You can watch it by clicking here. Don’t forget to turn your desk speakers up to 11!

Turning Garbage into Art

Watch Independent Lens “Waste Land” at 9:00 p.m. Friday, April 22 on Wisconsin Public Television.

I have always found it amazing when people can find beauty in something out of the ordinary. Not to say certain things should never be passed off as art, but there is much to be said about the beauty of the unconventional. Vik Muniz’s portraits of garbage and garbage-pickers remind me of a photography project I did years ago. It’s amazing how many wonderful things you can see in construction when you aren’t stuck in one lane of traffic on a four-lane street listening to gravel slowly chip away at your investment.

Will technology save the planet?

Watch Nova: Power Surge at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 on Wisconsin Public Television.

We’ve seen the high-efficiency windmills and have screwed in compact flourescent bulbs, but is that enough to make up for years of burning coal and petroleum for our energy? These particular advances are just the start of a technological revolution aimed at providing green and clean energy around for the world. Travel around the globe with Nova to meet the scientists and engineers that are designing new products and innovations that could change the way we heat our homes, fuel our cars and light the night skyline.

Watch a preview of this intriguing program below:

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 http://www.alaskafaraway.com/

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.