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With "Hemingway" In The Wings, Idaho Public Television Continues Its Ratings Bonanza

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Idaho Public Television, PBS
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Masterpiece, Outdoor Idaho, Idaho Reports, Idaho Experience — just four examples from a long list of reasons why Idaho Public Television continues to be one of the highest-rated public television broadcasters in the nation. Add to that, the much-anticipated Hemingway, which will debut Monday, April 5 and run for three consecutive evenings.

IPTV general manager Ron Pisaneschi and director of content Jeff Tucker visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about Hemingway, the Resilient Idaho Project and the most recent Neilsen ratings that confirmed Idaho's public television broadcaster continues to set (and achieve) new programming heights.

“Just our main channel alone, more than 550,000 people are watching each week, and more than 1,000,000 people watching in an average month. And then, of course, so many more on the additional four digital channels.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice.  Ron Pisaneschi is on the line with us this morning - general manager at Idaho Public Television. Also joining us: Jeff Tucker, director of content at Idaho Public Television. Ron and Jeff, good morning to you both.

RON PISANESCHI: Good morning, George.

JEFF TUCKER: Good morning.

PRENTICE: Ron, let's put the headline right up top, and that is the much-anticipated docuseries, Hemingway, begins this evening and runs for the next three nights. My goodness, there has been a good amount of excitement and anticipation for this and none more so than here in Idaho.

PISANESCHI: This is another one of Ken Burns wonderful documentaries, along with his colleague Lynn Novick airs over three nights. So, six hours in total, two hours a night. Clearly, there's a lot about Hemingway that people know. But I think anyone who tunes into to this Ken Burns series will learn a lot about Hemingway that they never realized, including a lot about his life here in Idaho

PRENTICE: Jeff Tucker. I'm intrigued by something called the Resilient Idaho project. Tell our listeners what that is.

TUCKER: Well, Resilient Idaho: Hope Lives Here is a documentary on ACEs -  Adverse Childhood Experiences. And it started up… oh, gosh, back in October of 2019, pre-pandemic, if you can believe that. We did a Q&A on the topic and then Jean Mutchie with St. Luke's Community Health Services came to came to me and said, “You're going to do a documentary on ACEs, and I'm going to help you.” When I said, “Well, that sounds like a dare, let's do it.” So, she helped us find some funding, Robert Wood, Johnson Foundation and Optum Idaho, who stepped in. And over the course of… gosh, with the pandemic, we had to stop a little bit. We started… we stopped… over the course of about a year, interviewed over forty 45 people… some very strong people who possessed a lot of resilience. And that's actually a lot of what the documentary is about is.  And that's what really turns the effect of the Adverse Childhood Experiences into something that a person can lead a healthy life.

PRENTICE: And again, I'm sorry, ACEs is the acronym of…

TUCKER: Adverse Childhood Experiences.  ACEs.

PRENTICE: And is that what I might imagine? Which is to say, the kids who live… or try to live in the shadows of dysfunction?

TUCKER: Don't let me go into the science of this. This is where Roger Sherman with Idaho Children's Trust Fund and Jean Mutchie really know this work. But there's a whole…it's a scorecard of things that have happened in childhood that add up to a certain number. And if you're in Idaho… there are ACEs in Idaho than in other states. And that leads to a lot of dysfunction in terms of holding jobs, addiction, things like that. And you can imagine if the society didn't have those ailments, how much better the society and the people, specifically, could be. So it's… start early, I think that’s the key. Make sure things go right when you're young, and then learn how to have that resilience to keep you going when things don't go well for you

PRENTICE: And for our listeners, we're going to put a link to Resilient Idaho on our website as well. Ron, for quite some time I thought the TV was B.D. and A.D., which is to say before Downton Abbey and after Downton. But I have to tell you, that as we leaned into our streaming and TV sets over the last year, my DVR cue… well, public television is knocking it out of the park. My personal favorites are Miss Scarlet and the Duke and The Trouble with Maggie Cole, and then this new adaptation of All Creatures, Great and Small

PISANESCHI: It has impacted people's lives. I think they really have responded favorably. We just got our audience data for January from Nielsen, and in and just our main channel alone, more than 550,000 people are watching each week, and more than 1,000,000 people watching in an average month. And then, of course, so many more on the additional four digital channels. And that doesn't take into account the folks like you who are watching online and the on-demand mode. Yeah, it's been terrific to see how our viewers have responded, not just to the dramas. Although I will tell you, in January, All Creatures Great and Small was the most watched of our programs that month, but it includes things like Outdoor Idaho and Idaho Experience, as well, and things that you would expect, like Antiques Roadshow and the news.

PRENTICE: Our audience should also note that this gentleman, Ron Pisaneschi is the recipient of the 2021 National Advocacy Award from the nonprofit American Public Television Stations. So, Ron, I'm going to ask you to be quiet; and Jeff, I'm going to ask you to talk about the man down the hall.

TUCKER: Well, you know, I was going to break-in and say, "George, let me answer this question.”

PRENTICE: Oh, good. Well, there you go..

TUCKER: We are extremely proud of Ron. And I can see his face right now on my on my computer here. He does an amazing job. He has such an effect here in Idaho, but outside of Idaho with all the other member stations as well, and all the other folks that make public television and public media operate the way it should. There's a big group of people, and he's well connected. So, it's just amazing to me that he wants to stay here at Idaho Public Television and do this work. I think that says a lot for Idaho Public Television, but it's helpful to us, too.

PRENTICE: Ron, congratulations. This is a really big deal.

PISANESCHI: Well, thank you, George. I was…mystified. I think it also speaks, let's be honest… I lead an incredibly dedicated team of folks here at the station. And although I'm the guy in the corner office, it's everybody doing their part that makes Idaho Public Television strong and makes public television strong. And if I didn't have a great team of people with me, I couldn't do the work that I do at the national level, but also it’s clearly meeting the needs of the people here in Idaho.

PRENTICE: These are interesting times to be in public broadcasting.  And who knows what the next 12 months will have in store for us? But my guess is you're up for the challenge.

PISANESCHI: I think so. As I said, we've got great people here. And, you know, it's also… we have really supportive viewers. Certainly, they watch, but they also donate and they communicate to their legislators and to members of Congress and let them know how much they appreciate the work that we do in their lives. And so it makes for a great organization. And I think we're able to do good things for the people of Idaho as well.

PRENTICE: He is Ron Pisaneschi and he is Jeff Tucker. Gentlemen, have a good morning and a great week ahead of you.

PISANESCHI: Thank you, George. You, too.

TUCKER: Thanks, George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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