Posts Tagged ‘PBS’

Television Interview

September 14, 2018

Last month, WITF, the local PBS station, interviewed John Coyle, President of Craighead House, Sarah Fischer, Education Coordinator and Messiah College professor, Twig George, Jean Craighead George’s daughter, and me for a piece they were filming about Jean Craighead George. It was to be a 5-minute segment for the station’s portion of PBS’s Authors & Their Hometowns program, a half-hour piece to accompany PBS’s The Great American Read. They were also making a piece about John Updike, another writer with ties to Central Pennsylvania.

We were disappointed to learn that the Jean Craighead George piece didn’t make the cut when we viewed the broadcast of Authors & Their Hometowns Tuesday evening. Yesterday, I received the following message from the WITF producer:

“Although our story was not ultimately selected by PBS to be featured in the 30min Authors & Their Hometowns program…it will air on WITF TV as interstitial programming across our broadcast schedule beginning this evening! Be sure to watch the promo break prior to Doctor Blake at 10pm. If you tune in between 9:45-10pm you should catch it.

“The video is also available for viewing anytime online here–https://video.witf.org/video/great-american-read-the-wild-world-of-jean-craighead-george-nes82j/

Later, she informed me that it will be shown again this Sunday, September 16 at 2:25 pm and 11:45 pm EDT.

Those who don’t live in the WITF viewing area can see it anytime at the link above.

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Jean Craighead George sitting at the vanity she repurposed as a writing desk when she was 12 years old.  She loved to sit here and look out the window at the Yellow Breeches Creek in the back yard.

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The Great American Read

August 13, 2018

On Thursday, August 9, Heather Woolridge of WITF, the Central PA PBS affiliate, conducted interviews at Craighead House for a 5-minute segment they are producing in conjunction with the upcoming PBS series The Great American Read. She interviewed Johnson Coyle, President of Craighead House Committee, Sarah Fischer, Education Coordinator, Twig George, daughter of Jean Craighead George, and me.

The topic was Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain, a book that has changed many people’s lives. Why it didn’t make PBS’s top 100 list is a mystery to me. Perhaps its readers aren’t ardent PBS viewers. I have no idea. Even though it was overlooked by PBS, WITF is giving it a look.

I don’t know what John, Sarah and Twig said but I tried to emphasize the impact My Side of the Mountain has had on so many people. It has turned numerous nonreaders into readers, some of which have become voracious readers. Trish Carlucci’s story in the Summer 2016 edition of Craighead House Chronicles discusses one such example. Summer 2016 5.5 x. 8.5 cropped Trish

Men and women alike constantly tell me that My Side of the Mountain was their favorite book growing up and want their children to read it. It is even in several states’ curricula.

It is my understanding that each of the five one-hour theme episodes that follow the two-hour launch episode will be organized into 10-minute segments that PBS affiliates can choose to show or replace with pieces of their own. WITF’s segment will cover John Updike and Jean Craighead George. It’s not clear when this piece will run. We hope to find out before the series kicks off on September 11.

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Radiolab Program About Carlisle on NPR

February 13, 2015

I was interviewed at length some weeks ago by NPR’s Radiohead for a future broadcast about Carlisle Indian School football. While listening to Sally Jenkins’s interview during the program, I was saddened by the lack of nuance in her description of the 1896 Carlisle-Yale game. Yes, William O. Hickok was a Yale alum but he was also Carlisle’s coach that year. Omitting this important fact spun the officiating of the game as outright cheating. Carlisle Indian School ran a special edition of its newspaper, The Red Man, that included contemporaneous coverage of the game from the viewpoints of several observers who had differing opinions. A reasonable conclusion that could be made after reading these articles would be that Hickok blew the call, to use modern football parlance, by prematurely blowing his whistle before Isaac Seneca or Jonas Metoxen (accounts vary as to who was carrying the ball initially) was taken to the ground. Bad calls are still part of football, so much so that instant replay has been instituted in recent years to overturn them when ample evidence is provided on the video. To say that Hickok, Carlisle’s coach at the time, cheated his own team in favor of his alma mater, is a serious accusation that doesn’t stand up to the available evidence. Think about the boost a victory, or even a tie, with Yale would have given Hickok’s coaching career. He had a significant incentive to beat Yale. He just blew the call and, possibly, his chance at being a top-flight coach.

Contrary to the Radiolab program, Pop Warner didn’t just happen to coach Carlisle. After graduating from Cornell with a law degree, he had coached Iowa State and Georgia–simultaneously–before returning to lead his alma mater. Seeing that his players needed better coaching, Superintendent Pratt asked Walter Camp, the greatest expert on the game of his day, for advice. Camp suggested he consider Pop Warner, an ingenious up and coming coach. Warner and the Indians made a perfect match football-wise. Neither would likely have had the records they did without each other.

Richard Henry Pratt, who was sometimes called “an honest lunatic” by his critics, deserves a more balanced treatment than NPR gave him. Where a common, if not majority, view at the time favored eradication, Pratt held the radical view that Indians could do anything a white man could do. I’ve never found anything from the period stating that Carlisle students weren’t allowed to speak their own languages. They were surely encouraged to speak English but Pratt had no need to force them. How else were they going to communicate with each other if they didn’t? The various tribes represented at Carlisle spoke numerous different languages and could only understand those from their own tribe or one that spoke a similar-enough language. Other schools, where the students were from a single or only a few tribes, may have forced their students to speak English but Carlisle had no need to do that.

 

Radio Interview

June 19, 2014

PHMC Historic Marker

Prior to the Historical Marker dedication, I was approached by WITF, the local PBS affiliate, for an interview concerning the book I am writing about the Craighead Naturalists. Cary Burkett, who has one of the best radio voices I’ve ever heard and whom I saw and heard sing The Impossible Dream in a local performance of The Man from LaMancha some years ago, met me at Craighead House the Monday before the Historical Marker dedication with recorder and microphone in hand.

He didn’t carry a heavy reel-to-reel tape recorder like the one Bob Wheeler lugged as he hitchhiked across the country interviewing people such as President Eisenhower for his biography of Jim Thorpe or the 40-pounder that left Howard Cossell stoop-shouldered. Burkett carried a tiny—relatively speaking—unit that was probably digital and could easily be slung from his shoulder. Recognizing me immediately from my photo, he introduced himself and began the interview.

Other than taking a couple of minutes to record the background sound of the Yellow Breeches flowing over the Craighead dam and into the mill race, he mostly listened to me recite facts, figures, and historical events related to the family for the better part of an hour. When I’d stop to breathe, he’d ask me another question and off I’d go babbling on and on about all manner of things Craighead related.

To make the interview more interesting, I gave Cary a tour of the home and grounds. Sadly, describing the artwork that adorns the kitchen walls is not easily done on radio and couldn’t be included in the seqment that resulted from interview. The 4-minute piece digested from this rambling interview airs tomorrow, Friday, June 20, 2014 at 6:35 a.m., 8:35 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. on WITF 89.5 fm. Mr. Burkett also wrote an accompanying article about the Craigheads that, along with a podcast of his radio piece, is posted on WITF’s site at:

http://www.witf.org/arts-culture/2014/06/historic-marker-for-craighead-house.php