July 2015 - Idaho Public Television
Inside this issue:
Quotes, Page 1
“Bruce, thank you for what you and your team do. Although not an Idaho native, we now call
Idaho our forever home and could not be more thankful. Outdoor Idaho was the first show we
watched when we moved here six years ago and have looked forward to every episode since.
Your show is why Idaho is so incredible. Please know just how much your hard work and
dedication to this great state means to all of us. Safe travels, and keep up the extraordinary
work.” –Jeff D.
July 28 IdahoPTV
Updates From IdahoPTV’s
Last month we reported on the busy schedule for our Outdoor Idaho crew. Below are
some pictures and descriptions of a few of their recent adventures.
In the Community,
Public Television in
the News, Page 5
Bruce Reichert and Jay Krajic
bushwhacked into the headwaters of
the Salmon River.
“We went a little further than we had
originally planned, but we did get some
pretty solid footage of the headwaters
of the Salmon River, below Galena
Summit and above the Sawtooth valley.
It doesn’t look like much in these photos, but before long this little spit of water
becomes the mighty River of No Return that defeated Lewis & Clark.”
Bruce and crew were also in search of the headwaters of the Selway River (in the Frank
“The journey had us along the Idaho-Montana
border; in fact, part of the time we were in
Montana and part of the time we were in Idaho.
There was a lot of steepness to the trail, which is
why the 22 miles into the wilderness camp took
almost 10 hours on the back of a mule…and then
another 10 hours coming out. The area is pockmarked by fires from past years; we probably
traveled through four or five different wildfires
from the last few decades.”
GE NERA L MANAG ER’S RE P ORT
Sauni Symonds, Troy Shreve and Pat Metzler met up with some
of Idaho’s premier spelunkers to adventure into Papoose cave
for a segment in the show “My Excellent Adventure.”
July 28 IdahoPTV Volunteer Appreciation
Each year we invite our volunteers to the Boise studios and let them know
how much we appreciate their help. This year we will show clips of upcoming
local and national productions.
In the Community
“The Geocaching Logo is a registered trademark of
Groundspeak, Inc. Used with permission.”
Dinosaur Train Geocache Project – Begins its 5th Year
Five years ago the Jim Henson Company enlisted the help of PBS stations, museums, zoos, and aquariums
nationwide to hide Dinosaur Train themed geocaches. Each geocache features one of the dinosaurs found on the
online Dinosaur Train Field Guide.
There are more than 127 Dinosaur Train geocaches in the United States. IdahoPTV currently has two Dinosaur
Train geocaches hid. One is in the Boise area and one in the Moscow area.
Geocaching encourages children to explore their surroundings, use observational skills, and have an adventure
right in their own neighborhood. Critical and creative thinking skills are necessary when seeking a geocache, and
these cornerstones of problem solving and scientific thought are modeled and transferred to children when
geocaching with an older caregiver.
Here are the waypoints for those managed by IdahoPTV:
Dinosaur Train Gigantosaurus
N 43° 35.350 W 116° 18.570
Dinosaur Train Deinonychus
N 46° 43.491 W 117° 00.733
For more information on this project check out: http://www.geocaching.com/dinosaurtrain/
From the Boise geocache log book:
“Picking up a few caches en-route from Hells Canyon to Bruneau Dunes National Park. This was the only one we
stopped to do in this city. Thank you for placing this cache for us to find. We signed the log and replaced the cache
safely back where it was found.
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Our Travel Companion TB31M47 and Cache Mobile TB59EG4 came along for the ride.
Greetings from South Africa!
A bit on our background:
At the outset of our holiday we had found 11656 caches (all done in southern Africa) and this is this first time we are
caching on another continent. The logo on our ‘all terrain’ caching mobile reads “I would rather be lost in the woods
than found in the city” and our travel companion TB has traveled over 195 000 kilometers achieving this milestone
as we have explored the wide open and untamed expanses of southern Africa. It is, therefore, with some trepidation
that we set out caching in the vast expanse of USA with its enormous cities and massive network of freeways in a
first world country.
Having overcome encounters with dangerous wild animals (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, hyenas and
hippopotamus) in game parks, this does give us a degree of confidence that we will be up to any challenge the USA
may have for us.
A quote that we hold dear reads “Every morning you are handed 24 golden hours. They are one of the few things in
this world that you get free of charge. If you had all the money in the world, you couldn’t buy an extra hour. What
will you do with this priceless treasure?”. While in the USA we will endeavor to use the hours we have to discover as
much of the country as possible and find some caches along the way.
Our IdahoPTV Productions
Behind the Stories
“My Father’s Idaho”
By Marcia Franklin
One day Rifka Helton asked her father what she thought was
an innocuous question.
I said, “Dad, don’t you have some slides or something?”
And he said, “Daughter, dear, you know not what you ask.”
Audus “Red” Helton filming in the Idaho backcountry.
It turns out that her father, Audus “Red” Helton, had
thousands of slides and films he had taken of Idaho in the
1950s and 60s. They were shot while he traveled the state as
a plant pathologist and professor for the University of Idaho,
and during family trips into the backcountry.
“I needed a camera right from the beginning to record the shape and size of symptoms in the leaves,” says Red.
The slides had been lovingly preserved in metal cases, and meticulously labeled.
“I started taking them up and holding them up to the light, and I knew,” said Helton. “I mean, I knew in seconds. It’s
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For her, the images represented a bygone era that shouldn’t be
forgotten, one in which families hiked, camped, rode horses and
talked together, without the need for technology.
“We didn’t drive Winnebagos and big huge rigs to go camping
with satellite dishes,” she says. “We carried our stuff in, you
know, and we walked. Let’s not forget this little piece of history
when we used to gather our sticks in the woods and build our
own little fires.”
So began a decade-long labor of love for Helton. A singer and
musician, she decided the best way to bring the photos and their
themes to wider audience was to set them to original songs in a
performance piece she calls “My Father’s Idaho.”
“I have this feeling that if we knew our history better we
might be smarter,” says Rifka. “I think the art of historical
storytelling, multimedia with music, is really a powerful
“Red” Helton and daughter Rifka, 1963
Helton projects the photos on a screen while she sings and
plays the piano and guitar. She has also turned some of the
images into notecards, and enlarged versions of many of
the photos are also hanging in the Glenns Ferry Historical
We’ve been thinking about a potential Outdoor Idaho show
called “History Keepers,” so Rifka and Red’s story seemed a
good fit for that. Videographer Jay Krajic and I interviewed Red
in his home in Bonners Ferry, and videographer Dave Butler
and I taped one of Rifka’s performances at the Glenns Ferry
museum outside at night.
We're still looking for more stories for the show, so if you know
of other Idahoans who are doing their part to be “history
keepers,” especially preserving stories of the Idaho outdoors,
please let us know.
For his part, Red is proud of his daughter’s efforts to save and share his photos.
“I’m surprised that she gave birth to the project. But I think it’s a great thing, and I think it’s good to let people
know there is another way, particularly with families with young children. Childhood obesity is a national epidemic
right now, and I don’t think it would be if kids exercised as they did when I was a kid. That’s the way life was. Life’s
not like that now and I think it’s tragic.”
“My Father’s Idaho” was produced as a stand-alone segment. We plan to include it in a future Outdoor Idaho
program that will feature a number of Idaho history keepers. You can watch this segment online at::
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“The Big Outside: Michael Lanza”
―Airs Friday, July 10, at 7:30 p.m.
Host Marcia Franklin talks with Idaho outdoor writer and photographer Michael
Lanza about some of the best backcountry trips in our region. Lanza, the former
Northwest editor for Backpacker magazine, has written three books about hiking, as
well as many articles chronicling his worldwide adventures backpacking, climbing,
skiing and paddling.
Before They’re Gone, his book about his family’s adventures hiking through some of the national parks in America
most threatened by climate change, won an honorable mention in the National Outdoor Book Awards. Franklin
talks with him about why he wanted to write the book, and what it was like to backpack with his young children.
Lanza also runs the website thebigoutside.com, which was chosen by USA Today readers as one of the top 10
hiking and outdoors blogs.
In a Dialogue Extra available at video.idahoptv.org, Lanza gives some hiking tips and advice on how to choose the
Public Television in the News
Educational impact of ‘Sesame Street’ is comparable
to preschool, study finds
BY JIM TANKERSLEY
The Washington Post, June 10, 2015
NEW YORK — Most Americans born since the mid-1960s have a
favorite “Sesame Street” skit. Jennifer Kotler Clarke watched hers
on a black-and-white television set in her family’s Bronx apartment.
An undated handout photo of a scene from
RICHARD TERMINE — The New York Times
There were two aliens: One of them had long arms that didn’t move, while the other had short, moving arms. The
aliens wished to eat apples from a tree, and they succeeded, after a couple of minutes, by working together. “Let’s
call this cooperation,” one of them says. “No,” the other replies, “let’s call it Shirley.”
Clarke grew up to be the show’s vice president for research and evaluation, and she has long believed that the
program’s laughs and lessons stick with children. Now, landmark academic research appears to back her up.
The most authoritative study ever done on the impact of “Sesame Street,” released this week, finds that the
famous show on public TV has delivered lasting educational benefits to millions of American children — benefits
as powerful as the ones children get from going to preschool.
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The paper from the University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Phillip Levine finds that the
show has left children more likely to stay at the appropriate grade level for their age, an effect that is particularly
pronounced among boys, African Americans and children who grow up in disadvantaged areas.
After “Sesame Street” was introduced, children living in places where its broadcast could be more readily received
saw a 14 percent drop in their likelihood of being behind in school. Levine and Kearney note in their paper that a
wide body of previous research has found that Head Start, the pre-kindergarten program for low-income Americans,
delivers a similar benefit.
The researchers also say those effects probably come from “Sesame Street’s” focus on presenting viewers with an
academic curriculum, heavy on reading and math, that would appear to have helped prepare children for school.
While it might seem implausible that a TV show could have such effects, the results build on Nixon-era government
studies that found big short-term benefits in watching the show, along with years of focus-group studies by the team
of academic researchers who help write “Sesame Street” scripts. Several outside researchers have reviewed the
study, and none are known to have questioned its results.
The new findings offer comforting news for parents who plopped their children in front of public TV every day and/or
memorized entire Elmo DVDs, unwittingly.
They also raise a provocative question at a time when many lawmakers are pushing to expand spending on earlychildhood education: Do kids need preschool if a TV show works just as well?
Yes, say the economists — and the “Sesame Street” educational team. Head Start, Kearney and Levine write, was
designed to provide more than an academic boost: It delivers family support, medical and dental services, and
development of emotional skills that help kids in social settings.
Levine and Kearney see the study as a clear lesson in the value of a (very cheap) mass-media complement to
preschool. The potentially controversial implication they embrace from the study isn’t about early-childhood
education. It’s about college, and the trend toward low-cost massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
“Sesame Street,” Levine and Kearney write, was the original MOOC. “If we can do this with ‘Sesame Street’ on
television, we can potentially do this with all sorts of electronic communications,” Kearney said. “It’s encouraging
because it means we might be able to make real progress in ways that are affordable and scalable.”
The research can’t say whether the show continues to deliver such high benefits to children, said Diane Whitmore
Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, who has read drafts
of the paper and given feedback to the authors.
But, she said, it clearly shows “the importance of childhood education, which is really having its moment right now.”
The economists’ study was brought to you, so to speak, by the letters U, H and F.
“Sesame Street” debuted in 1969 with a diverse cast of humans and brightly colored fuzzy Muppets, including Oscar
the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, and, of course, Big Bird. It was the country’s first explicitly educational children’s
program, and it was an immediate hit: In the early 1970s, one-third of all American toddlers watched it.
That’s a Super Bowl-level audience share. But it’s even more striking because another third of the nation’s toddlers
couldn’t have watched the show if they wanted to — they didn’t have the right kind of antenna to tune in to their
local public television station.
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This was well before the popularization of cable. TV broadcasts arrived over the air, on two different kinds of
signals. The higher-quality signal was known as VHF, or Channels 1 to 13 on a standard TV set. The lower-quality
signal was called UHF, and many households at that time were unable to tune it in. By a quirk of federal licensing,
the public broadcasting channels in many major cities, including New York and Boston, aired on VHF channels,
while others, including Los Angeles and Washington, aired on UHF.
As a result, about two-thirds of the nation’s households were able to watch “Sesame Street.” The other third
Levine read about that divide in early 2014. He realized it was the sort of rare natural experiment that economists
live for — two groups of people, divvied up by fate and the Federal Communications Commission, who could be
compared over time to see whether there was a difference in their educational outcomes.
“It’s econometrically phenomenal,” he said, “because it’s essentially random, who had UHF and who had VHF.”
Levine and Kearney pinpointed which cities had high or low levels of access to the show. Then they used census
data to track children from those cities throughout school, to see whether they were staying at grade level. They
couldn’t study individual people, or even determine whether people in particular areas watched the show. But
they found a large and statistically meaningful effect on the educational progress of children who, because of
where they lived, were much more likely to be able to watch. (The effect appears to fade out before high school
graduation, they also found.)
“Sesame Street” writers design their shows to have those effects.
From the start, the program rooted its scripts in an academic curriculum designed to help children — particularly
low-income urban kids — prepare for school.
At first the writers focused on basics: letters, numbers, cooperation. Over the decades they expanded to
incorporate research on what children needed to succeed in the classroom and in life. “We’re constantly changing
the show, for good reasons,” said Rosemarie Truglio, the senior vice president of global educational content at
When writers wanted to emphasize science learning, Truglio said in an interview in “Sesame Street” offices just off
Central Park in Manhattan, they turned the inquisitive monster Super Grover into a one-Muppet embodiment of
the scientific method.
When they realized that media-soaked children needed more help paying attention and controlling impulses, they
decided to make an example out of Cookie Monster — the googly-eyed character who famously cannot resist
“As an educator, I was a little worried about that,” Truglio said. “Because he was going to fail, a lot.”
Then she realized that was the point: Children needed to see someone struggle with the attention issues they
struggle with, and try multiple techniques to overcome them. In one recent skit, modeled on the “Karate Kid”
movies, Cookie Monster needs three tries to learn a special move from his sensei, but he finally masters listening
with his whole body and, as a reward, he earns a cookie belt.
Which he eats.
“Sesame Street” researchers aggressively test their shows via focus groups to see what works. Their success, they
said, rests on a simple formula that wraps education in entertainment, harnessing the power of human narrative.
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They said the approach could easily extend to college students — to MOOCs — as well as preschoolers.
“Storytelling is critical,” Clarke said. “If you organize information in storytelling, children are more likely to learn it.
And adults are, too.”
‘Maria,’ surely the most-loved person on TV, is
leaving ‘Sesame Street’
By Lindsey Bever July 2 at 4:47 AM
In the early 1970s, Sonia Manzano showed up to an audition on
New York City’s Upper West Side, wearing a simple dress and
“some cheap Indian sandals.”
Manzano, then a 22-year-old drama student at Carnegie Mellon
University, was asked to play a game that would one day become
known by its lyrics: “One of these things is not like the others.”
She walked away with a job — playing Maria on PBS’s children’s
TV show “Sesame Street.”
Sonia Manzano and the muppet Grover launch the
new “Super Grover” sandwich in honor of the
4,000th “Sesame Street” episode Feb. 27, 2002, at
the Stage Deli in New York. (George De Sota/Getty
“Actors weren’t actors,” she said in a 2004 interview with the Archive of American Television. “We were cast
because of who we were — the people we were.”
Manzano, whose parents came from Puerto Rico, became one of the first Hispanics to appear on national
television, in many ways, helping to break down racial and gender barriers. She built a 44-year career playing
Maria, a character loosely based on her own life. She was nominated for two Emmy awards for her acting and
won 15 others for her writing on the show. Now, she is stepping down.
Earlier this week, Manzano, now 65, announced her retirement at the American Library Association Annual
Conference, telling viewers she would not be on the next season of “Sesame Street.” Fans took to social media,
saying she was “the first Latina I saw on TV in the 70s!“ “you taught me my first words in Spanish“ and “you played
a huge part in my early fascination with other languages and cultures.”
“What you say is music to my ears!” Manzano replied. “Gracias!”
Manzano grew up in the South Bronx. She went to the High School of Performing Arts and she later earned a
scholarship to Carnegie Mellon.
Her junior year of college, she started performing in the off-Broadway show “Godspell.” And, within a year, she
was cast as Maria on “Sesame Street.”
“I’ll never forget the first time I saw it,” she told Archive of American Television about the show. She said she first
watched it on a TV in the student union at Carnegie Mellon. “There I see James Earl Jones. He’s going, ‘A, B, C’ and
it was like, ‘What is this?’ It was so in-your-face, so compelling. It grabbed me by the neck.”
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“At that time, there were no people of color on television and if there were, there certainly weren’t nice little
Susan and Gordon,” she added.
The show was groundbreaking — the first that integrated early childhood development into entertainment while,
at the same time, giving grown-ups a reason to tune in.
Over the years, it featured celebrity guest stars — including Johnny Cash, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, Patrick Stewart
and Robin Williams — acting and singing alongside the show’s muppets: Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Grover,
Oscar the Grouch, the Cookie Monster and Count von Count.
For Manzano, the best moment on the show was when Stevie Wonder sang “Superstition.”
“It was an uplifting moment,” she told Yahoo News in 2013. “And I remember it because it seemed everybody was
on the same page. Kids, old people, young people, white people, black people, Latin people. I mean, everybody
was grooving. Straight people, hip people. It seemed like everybody was grooving at the same thing at the same
time. And it was this wonderful, hopeful vision of the world.”
Manzano joined the “Sesame Street” cast in 1971, playing a teenage Maria, who worked in a second-hand
bookstore. By 1974, she was a regular, soon acting alongside her TV husband, Luis, who was played by Emilio
Delgado. She joined other minorities on the show, including Matt Robinson andLoretta Long (who played Gordon
and Susan) and Will Lee (who played Jewish store owner Mr. Hooper).
“The country was an exciting place,” she told Yahoo News. “Everything was changing. And the curriculum goal at
that time was children should know that Latins live in America, and Latin children should be proud of their culture
because Latins were completely invisible in the media. And so ‘Sesame Street’ was trying to remedy that situation
by having a diverse cast.”
“If you’re not reflected in society, you feel invisible,” she told CBS News last year. “I wondered, how was I going to
contribute to a society that didn’t see me?”
Manzano found her place. Both in real life and in the
show, she said, she fought for women’s rights. Maria,
for instance, worked with Luis at his fix-it shop. But
eventually, she wanted to be part-owner of the store.
“Why shouldn’t I be part owner just because I was a
woman?” she toldArchive of American Television.
Sonia Manzano performs with Big Bird at the Daytime Emmy
Awards in 2009 in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello/AP)
“When we started in ‘69, we presented this idealistic
world,” she told CBS News. “We taught kids basic skills
and knowledge about how the world works in the
hope that they would grow up and create their own
world. Now we are helping kids live in the world that
exists for them that adults have created. I think kids
have more to deal with now than the creators ever
could have imagined.”
Over the past 44 years, viewers have watched Manzano’s character grow and evolve, just as she has.
“‘Sesame Street’ allowed me to do an unmentionable in American society: Age publicly,” she told Archive of
American Television. “We were never made to look the same or maintain the same persona. So as we grew and
our lives changed, our characters changed, especially Maria.”
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In real life, Manzano married her husband, Richard Regan. Maria married Luis. When Manzano became pregnant,
her character did as well. In the early 1990s, Luis and Maria had a daughter, Gabriela “Gabi” Rodriguez, who was
played by Desiree Casado.
For children who had grown up watching the show, Manzano and the cast were part of their lives.
Puerto Rican Ismael Cruz Córdova learned English partly by watching the show and, in 2013, joined the cast as
“Mando,” a Latino writer and techie.
“For me, what was so important when I was watching the show as a child, was visibility,” he told Yahoo News at
the time. “To see people who looked like me. I mean, we all want to feel accounted for. Coming from a poor
family, not formally educated, I grew up with that sense that my story wasn’t as important.
But everybody has the right to speak out and to create and to voice their opinions and to be heard. From
wherever you come from.”
Manzano has won numerous awards over the years for her role as an actress, author and speaker. She was
named one of the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever“ by Latino Magazine and has been recognized by the
Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington and Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
She has written for the Peabody Award-winning children’s series “Little Bill.” She has also written several books
including a children’s book called “No Dogs Allowed,” an adult novel called “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano“
and a memoir called “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.”
Manzano has said before that she hopes her story will inspire others.
“As a kid there was always a lot of chaos going on around me and I found a certain comfort in television
sometimes,” she told Archive of American Television in 2004. “I hope that I can be remembered as the person
who created a moment of safety for a child watching.”
Over the course of a year, nearly 86% of all U.S. television households – and 211 million people – watch PBS.
(Nielsen N Power, 9/23/2013 – 9/23/2014)
“Downton Abbey” is the top PBS drama of all time and the most popular series in Masterpiece’s 4-year
history. Season 5 was seen by 25.5 million people and drew a weekly average audience of 12.9 million
viewers. (Nielsen Live +7 data)
PBS has been named the most trusted television news source by voters. (Public Policy Polling, 1/3/2014)