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.

The Final Forte

Watch Wisconsin’s Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte at 8:00 p.m. Monday, March 28 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Ariela Bohrod, Elliot Yang, Leah Latorraca and Valerie Clare Sanders.

Every year I am amazed with what these kids can do.  Part of it may come from my lack of ability to play an instrument, but each of these young artists is truly great at what they do. If you’d like to see just what I’m talking about, you can see each artist in action by watching their profiles courtesy of In Wisconsin by using the links above.

The competition is quite an opportunity, but only one artist can receive top honors. Make sure you tune in Monday to watch their full performance with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and find out who won.

Pelicans of the Outback

Watch Nature: Outback Pelicans at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, March 27 on Wisconsin Public Television.

What drives a bird with a primary diet of fish to make a thousand mile journey to one of the hottest and driest places on earth? No one really knows for sure.  Year after year these large pelicans abandon their homes along the coastal waters of Australia and fly inland to the Australian Outback. The main push behind this journey appears to be large rainstorms that bring new life to once dry riverbeds and empty drainage basins.  So how do they know that a thousand miles inland at this desolate location there will be food waiting for them? Maybe they’re smarter than we think.

Wisconsin Film Festival

Watch Director’s Cut “Wisconsin Film Festival” at 8 p.m. Friday, March 25 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Director's CutAt long last the Wisconsin Film Festival is here! In just one short week it will be time to hit play on over 200 films and sit back and enjoy.  For those of us who can’t wait to see what’s coming out at this year’s festival, Director’s Cut offers a look behind the scenes at a few of the films and the directors behind them.  This also gives us a chance to learn a little bit more about Meg Hamel, the director of the entire festival who brings everything together here in Madison for us to enjoy. Sadly, they can’t help people like me who still haven’t taken the time to look through the full schedule and start buying tickets to the shows. If you’re behind (like me), take a look at the full schedule and don’t miss your chance for a sneak peak on Director’s Cut this Friday.

The Edge of the Universe

Watch NOVA: Hunting the Edge of Space at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Space has always been both fascinating and frustrating to me.  Planets, stars, black holes, they’re just too big to imagine.  At the same time, there is still so much we don’t know about the universe. Despite billions of dollars in research and centuries of theorizing, most of what we think we know is merely scientific speculation. This is exactly why I’m always excited for a new episode of NOVA focusing on space.  You never really know what you’ll discover next…