I went on my first Outdoor Idaho shoot in 1989, a hike into a lake beneath Red Mountain. Here's a shot of me stirring the fire. Don't you love the hair? (show 611 picture) That's the advantage of being the producer for Outdoor Idaho; Bruce gets to do all the on-camera work, I get to go along to see amazing places and meet interesting people.
Producers are responsible for coming up with an idea for a show and then researching the topic, booking the shoots, interviewing the subjects, carrying the equipment, handling the bills, and then writing the scripts. It is a creative, frustrating, occasionally exhilarating and almost always fun process. I can honestly say there isn't a piece I haven't enjoyed producing. Here are a few examples of the work I've done on Outdoor Idaho in my almost 20 years at Idaho Public Television.
"A Trip to the Moon" first aired in November, 2006. Craters of the Moon National Monument is one of America's biggest secrets. It is a fascinating place, and yet one many of us have never visited. Producing this program offered me the opportunity to show off this Idaho gem. Lavern Broncho, a Shoshone Bannock Tribal member, helped us by sharing his tribe's story of how Craters of the Moon was created. Because this story is suppose to be told in the winter, Lavern conducted a ceremony before the interview to ask the spirits to allow us to tell this story out of season. He included my videographer Dave Butler and myself in the ritual. It was a great honor and I appreciated him sharing something of such spiritual and cultural importance.
"The Frank Church Wilderness" first aired in February, 2002. The Frank Church Wilderness is the Crown Jewel of the National Wilderness System. Trying to portray all the facets of this place in a half hour show is like trying to write the whole of a book on the head of a pin. I loved the challenge. I wanted to find stories that would give viewers a feel for the area's beauty and grandeur, of the struggles of the people who sought to protect it and of the wonder the place inspires.
While all the pieces within the show were fun to do, the one that stands out is the trip to Taylor Ranch. This is a University of Idaho research station deep in the heart of the Frank Church. We had to fly in and buzz the field to get a bear off of the landing strip. That same bear would turn up wherever we were shooting. I must confess few sounds are more startling than the snuffling of a black bear coming up behind you.
"Pushing the Boundaries" first aired July, 2004. This show is another favorite because it was a chance to showcase some amazing young people. I marveled at their courage and was inspired by the adults who gave so generously of their time to make it all happen. Chuck Cathcart was my videographer on this one. That's him sitting on top of a rock. We had followed a group of YMCA climbing students to the City of Rocks. It is a beautiful place. Each student in turn pushed him or herself to the edge, mentally and physically, to climb to the top and Chuck had to climb along with them to get all the shots. (Girl on Rock.jpg). We also featured a young champion BMX bike rider named Robert Clark. (BMXbiker.jpg)
But the longest piece in that show focused on some young people really pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. That piece followed a group of blind teenagers going on a white water rafting trip. It was a wonderful story with the added bonus of Chuck being at the right place at the right time for some incredible shots. One young adventurer fell out of the boat and Chuck was there to catch it on tape. The shots were so good our colleagues accused us of pushing the poor lad out of the raft. We didn't, of course, but capturing that part of the story was a lucky illustration of the dangers involved in rafting and of the amount of courage these young people have.
"Idaho Getaways" first aired in March of 2007. This show was a first for Outdoor Idaho. It featured each of the current producers and their favorite getaways. I was lucky enough to pick Coeur d'Alene and lucky enough to get to take my kids along. Samantha and Harrison learned that producing an Outdoor Idaho is a lot of work as well as a lot of fun. We shot videotape from dawn to well past mid-night for three days straight. I remember well the kids fast asleep in chairs in the lobby of the Clark House. We needed to shoot the interior of our hotel room for the piece and couldn't get started doing it until almost 11:00pm. Since the kids couldn't go to sleep in the bed, they sat in the lobby and fell fast asleep.
The kids say they will also never forget the hot air balloon ride we took for this piece. While the journey up was as thrilling as they'd hoped, the landing was a little rougher than they had expected. It was what those in the trade call a "high wind" landing. The basket hit hard and was dragged about 20 feet on its side. Unfortunately, we all fell on top of Harrison as we were being tossed about. None of us were in any real danger and the pilot did a fantastic job. Still, Director/Editor Pat Metzler decided not to include the audio of Harrison screaming in terror in the final piece.
These are just a sample of my favorite stories over the years on Outdoor Idaho. I have been honored to meet people like Paul Petzoldt, the legendary mountaineer, and Al Tice, one of Idaho's most well known outfitters. I've worked beside volunteers from the Sawtooth Society to rebuild fences in the SNRA. I've hiked up hills, skied down mountains, and fallen in many a river, all in the line of duty. People all over the state have graciously donated their time and talents to help me tell my stories. I do so appreciate their kindness and hope that they had as much fun as I did.
It has also been an honor to work with Bruce, Pat, and all the producers, videographers, and editors it takes to create a program like Outdoor Idaho. And the best part is, I still get to keep doing it! Here's to the next 25 years!