Watch! Bid! Win! May 31-June 4

WPT Auction Begins Wednesday!
Browse and pre-bid on hundreds of items now at auction.wpt.org.

Next week, tune in to WPT to bid on merchandise from Wisconsin businesses and individuals during the 42nd annual WPT Auction. Bid on vacation packages, gift certificates, home and garden items, sports tickets to Badgers games, jewelry, art, vacation packages and more … all in support of Wisconsin Public Television programs and outreach initiatives!

Watch Auction live on-air or online May 31-June 4. On May 31-June 1 Auction is broadcast to the WHA-TV area only. Auction is broadcast to the entire WPT viewing area June 2-4. Watch Auction anywhere via the simultaneous online stream at auction.wpt.org

WPT Auction Schedule
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 – Entertainment & Hobby
7 p.m. Thursday, June 1 – Home & Garden
7 p.m. Friday, June 2 – Sports & Recreation
4-7 p.m. Saturday, June 3- Kids & Family
7 p.m. Saturday, June 3 – Travel
4-6 p.m. Sunday, June 4 – Marketplace
6 p.m. Sunday, June 4 – Showcase

Director’s Cut: Mac Smith and “Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood”

This week on Director’s Cut, it’s all about family, as director Mac Smith joins me to discuss Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood. It’s a solid film about a world I admit I knew very little about. Smith, a Hollywood sound professional, took on this passion project to tell a poignant, insightful and heartfelt story.

Poster for Scouts HonorThe full-length documentary looks at the competitive world of drum and bugle corps, where performers must be offered a contract in order to be part of the team.

Smith knows his topic well; he was a Scout himself. The experience was so enriching that, years later, he dedicated a couple years of his life to telling this story.

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Mac Smith and “Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood”

‘American Epic’ and WPT’s Recorded Folk Music

The groundbreaking three-part documentary American Epic takes us around the country to explore how the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the first time in the 1920s.

In the second part, “Blood and Soil,” airing tonight on WPT at 8 p.m., viewers will explore musical stories from the rural South. Charley Patton, Elder Burch and others made audio recordings of people performing early Delta blues, work songs, gospel, and protest tunes. If you missed “The Big Bang,” last week’s series opener, no worries! Watch it online.

The new series inspired us at WPT to dig into the archives of our decade-long live music program, 30-Minute Music Hour, to find past performances by people inspired by the music you will hear tonight on American Epic

Here are a few feature performances, captured right here in the WPT studio, that we thought you would enjoy after tuning in.
Continue reading ‘American Epic’ and WPT’s Recorded Folk Music

Director’s Cut: Writer-producer Erik Crary and “Uncle John”

Poster for the film Uncle JohnThis week on Director’s Cut, it’s a good old-fashioned eerie small town murder mystery: Uncle John.  I sat down with Erik Crary – half of the creative team – who co-wrote the script and produced the film. I love having writers as guests because they offer unique insight into the storytelling and movie-making process.  Continue reading Director’s Cut: Writer-producer Erik Crary and “Uncle John”

Director’s Cut: Mark Davis, Jan Jensen and “The Bear and the Owl”

Director’s Cut kicks off its 10th— that’s right — 10th season this Friday night on Wisconsin Public Television. We have somehow managed to outlast Cheers and Seinfeld, which were both on-air for only a measly nine seasons! And we have an excellent line-up of films coming your way this season.

Season 10 begins with a film called The Bear and the Owl, a documentary about a young girl with a rare illness and a stranger who becomes her pen pal – so to speak.

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Mark Davis, Jan Jensen and “The Bear and the Owl”

Legacy of the USS Lagarto

The USS Lagarto began its life in a Manitowoc shipyard and went down fighting in a sea battle against a Japanese convoy. But its fascinating story didn’t end in the depths of the Gulf of Thailand.

Decades later, details have emerged about what happened to the 86 men who vanished along with the submarine.

Tonight on WPT at 8 p.m., Lost and Found: The Legacy of the USS Lagarto explores what happened to the submarine, its crew — and the families they left behind. 

Watch a preview provided by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum:


Continue reading Legacy of the USS Lagarto

May the 4th Be With You: Remembering a Very Special Star Wars Visit to Sesame Street

This annual unofficial Star Wars holiday – May the 4th be with you! – gives us a great excuse to go back and look at one of our favorite moments from the legendary intergalactic franchise. That, of course, was the day that R2D2 and C-3PO visited Sesame Street!

Landing just before the release of The Empire Strikes Back, the second film in the still-growing series, the two iconic droids actually appeared on our favorite children’s program for two episodes in January 1980. And the highlights are still amazing.

First, the Sesame Street gang approach the friendly pair to see what brings them to town. Naturally R2D2 claims a secret mission has brought him to deliver a secret message, while C-3PO simply wants an oil change after traveling 50 parsecs.

Then, the two space friends join in the kind of impromptu musical fun – and learning – that can only happen on Sesame Street when they teach Big Bird how to count with their own personalized numbers ditty – “If it says one, I go ‘beep!’ If it says two, I go ‘beep beep!'” – and join in with Bob and friends on an almost avant-garde interpretation of the alphabet song!

And, of course, what would a visit to Sesame Street be without meeting a new friend? Before blasting off back to another galaxy, R2D2 even fell in love with an unexpected feature of almost every street!

Of course, this actual visit from real stars of the Star Wars cast isn’t the only time the films have found their way onto the beloved children’s series. In fact, just a few years ago, Star Wars was the focus of one of our favorite Sesame Street parodies, “Star S’mores.” Watch for Snuffleupagus as a Bantha, and stay for the meta in-joke of Grover as Yoda. And, May the 4th be with you!

Enter the Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge!

Quilt Expo and Nancy Zieman have announced an all-new quilting challenge taking place throughout the month of May on social media: The Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge!

To enter, send a high-resolution image of your quilt to QEChallenge@gmail.com by 5 p.m. CST on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Include your full name, hometown, and a sentence or two about your quilt. Enter one modern mini quilt for a chance to receive a prize from one of the sponsors (explore the full prize list below)!  Continue reading Enter the Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge!

Madison Teacher Selected For 2017 PBS Digital Innovators Program

David Olson is recognized for his game-changing integration of digital media in the classroom; Olson will partner with Wisconsin Public Television to build learning outcomes in Wisconsin.

Today, Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) announced David Olson, a teacher from James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, as one of 52 educators from across the country selected for the fifth annual PBS Digital Innovators Program. The program recognizes classroom change makers: educators who skillfully approach education with a bold and fresh perspective, and who integrate digital media and resources into their classrooms.

“WPT is excited to collaborate with David Olson, who was chosen from a pool of innovative educators across the country,” said Alyssa Tsagong, WPT Director of Education.  (Explore more about WPT Education online!) “Working directly with Wisconsin’s most passionate educators inspires our entire station, and leads to our best work. We are proud that he will represent WPT and our state as he participates in this unique opportunity to work in-depth with the excellent resources and professional development from PBS LearningMedia.”

As a social studies teacher, Olson said he finds his students are most engaged when they get to learn from history and apply their knowledge to real situations. Simulations, authentic textual analysis and games he brings into in his classroom give students the opportunity to see how the things they learn apply to the real world.

Olson, who has employed WPT resources in his classroom, including those from WPT’s WisconsinVote.org project and the Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams documentary, said that digital content helps many of his lessons make the strongest impact. “When I have my students experience life inside a solitary confinement cell using a Virtual Reality headset or [invite them to] create their own political advertisements, it sparks their curiosity and leads them to think of new problems to solve,” he said.

In partnership with WPT, Olson will work to deepen the connection between the educator community and the educational resources offered through public television. PBS Digital Innovators also participate in ongoing professional development, share their ideas on PBS platforms, have access to exclusive resources from PBS LearningMedia, receive a free PBS Teacherline professional development course, and are invited to special events, including the 2017 PBS Digital Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

For all educators, PBS LearningMedia offers more than 100,000 digital resources – including lesson plans, worksheets, video content and more, are available through PBS LearningMedia – for pre-K-12 classrooms and other learning environments. Teachers can access this content at pbslearningmedia.org.

Gaylord Catering Fuels Auction 2017

This year, Wisconsin Public Television celebrates our 42nd year of fantastic fun at Auction – May 31 through June 4, 2017! Help support WPT as you bid on an array of goods and services donated by businesses and individuals from around Wisconsin and beyond. Preview and pre-bid on items and watch our live stream from anywhere at auction.wpt.org. To bid by phone, dial 800-236-3636.

WPT Auction catering partners fuel hardworking volunteers and WPT employees throughout Auction with delicious, local meals. This year, longtime Auction catering partner Gaylord Catering Service, of Madison, has once again signed up to volunteer time — and, of course, food. We sat down with Dave Chamberlain, Gaylord Catering Service’s owner, president, and general manager (and even one of the chefs!) to learn more about the business and its commitment to Auction.

How has your role with Gaylord Catering Service evolved over the years?
I started in 1968 as a high school student washing dishes. I kept that job part-time, washing dishes throughout college until I graduated from Madison Business College in 1974 with an accounting degree. After graduation, Gaylord Catering offered a full-time job, which I accepted. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a position of ownership in the company — you know, one of those enticements to make sure that you stay and don’t run away [laughs]! In 1983, I purchased the company from Gaylord Matti, the original owner. I purchased with a partner; in 1997 my partner left to pursue other interests. Since then, it’s just been my wife [Pat] and I.

What about Auction motivated Gaylord Catering to donate meals and valuable time?
My kids and my wife and I — and now my grandkids —watch public television a lot. In the early years, WPT carried Badger hockey and basketball, which we loved to watch. [Donating to Auction] just seemed like a way for me to give back. You can always donate money, but this was an opportunity for me and my business to give something back.

What’s your favorite part about being an Auction catering partner?From a business standpoint, you get exposure to a lot of people. If I provide them with good food that they like, maybe they’ll remember that I donated. They’ll take the time to call me and give me an opportunity to provide that food for them. It doesn’t “seal the deal,” but they’re more likely to give me a chance. It’s a way for the community to realize that we’re giving back. And I’m sure the volunteers enjoy it!

Since you’re one of the chefs, we have to ask: What’s the most popular dish?
We do a number of weddings every year, and in the wedding business, chicken is a popular item. We do a Wisconsin Cranberry Chicken, which is chicken breast filled with a dried cranberry, walnut and herb dressing and garnished with a white wine cream sauce. That’s probably one of the most popular items we serve.