Ken Burns

The Mission of Reaching Far and Deep

 

CEO Message

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOThe theme of human connection ran alongside the subject of digital media strategies at the PBS Annual Meeting last month in Nashville, Tennessee. Which felt just right. What we strive to do in public media is combine the power of touch and the reach of tech to serve our home states.

 

Why meet in Nashville? Because PBS representatives from around the country need to meet somewhere – and Music City was a great setting for renowned filmmaker Ken Burns to share his newest epic, Country Music.

 

He spoke in a hotel ballroom two blocks from a boulevard of windows-thrown-open, live-music honky tonks. The eight-part, 16-hour film premieres on PBS stations nationally on Sunday, September 15.

 

At the conference, Burns said the film isn’t only for country music fans. At the heart of this American art form are honesty, vulnerability and real life. It’s about the joy of love and family, the hurt of betrayal, loneliness, regret, resilience, toil, faith, independence and the lure of the open road.

 

The Mission of Reaching Far and Deep

Leslie at Nashville conference with national PBS figures (right to left)
news anchor Judy Woodruff, commentator David Brooks and
(far left) arts adviser Jane Chu

 

I had the privilege of taking part in a discussion on stage with heavy hitters: (right to left) PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff; NY Times Op-Ed columnist/PBS NewsHour commentator/author David Brooks and (far left) PBS Arts Adviser Jane Chu. We looked at how the arts reach deep within people and we considered Brooks’ proposition that the neighborhood, not the individual, is the essential unit of social change. And we talked about using local knowledge to determine the best ways to convene and authentically engage communities of diverse voices.

 

Just as there’s no quick fix for the broken heart in a country song, there’s no manual for success in the rapidly changing media industry. The spinning evolution of tech choices, viewer options and fragmented audiences requires media makers to be agile and relentlessly purposeful – and that still doesn’t assure success.

 

Here’s an industry expectation that’s a safe bet: In three years or less there will be as many digital screens as live TV screens being used to view programming.

 

PBS KIDS viewing is already there. Digital screens dominate in front of young children, who also use them to play PBS educational video games.

 

Back from Nashville, our local team knows that we need more than quality programming going for PBS Hawaiʻi; we need to offer easy availability. You as a viewer want to be able to watch what you want – when and where you want it. Our Passport streaming service and our website on-demand programs are a start.

 

If PBS Hawaiʻi’s digital strategy goals were a country music song, the title would be “I’ll Go Anywhere With You.”

 

Aloha Nui,

Leslie signature


 

Mark Twain
Part 2 of 2

MARK TWAIN

 

Explores the other side of Twain the man—an American icon who falls hard through tragedy and bad financial decisions. An inept businessman who squanders his fortune on pipe-dream patents and bad investments, Twain turns to the lecture circuit and tours extensively, leaving behind his beloved Hartford home in an effort to pay off his creditors.

 

 

Mark Twain
Part 1 of 2

 

In his time, Mark Twain was considered the funniest man on earth. Yet he was also an unflinching critic of human nature, using his humor to attack hypocrisy, greed and racism. In this series, Ken Burns has created an illuminating portrait of the man who is also one of the greatest writers in American history.

 

 

JACKIE ROBINSON
Part 2 of 2

 

Examine the life and times of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who in 1947 lifted a nation and an entire race on his shoulders when he crossed baseball’s color line. Ken Burns reveals fascinating stories about the legend’s life on and off the field.

 

Part Two
Robinson uses his fame to speak out against injustice, alienating many who had once lauded him for “turning the other cheek.” After baseball, he seeks ways to fight inequality, but as he faces a crippling illness, he struggles to remain relevant.

 

 

JACKIE ROBINSON
Part 1 of 2

 

Examine the life and times of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who in 1947 lifted a nation and an entire race on his shoulders when he crossed baseball’s color line. Ken Burns reveals fascinating stories about the legend’s life on and off the field.

 

Part 1 of 2
Robinson rises from humble origins to integrate Major League Baseball, performing brilliantly despite the threats and abuse he faces on and off the field and, in the process, challenges the prejudiced notions of what a black man can achieve.

 

 

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