Behind the Stories

Jobs Without Walls

By Joan Cartan-Hansen
January 17, 2018

Sauni Symonds, Outdoor Idaho’s lead producer, asked me the other day to describe what kind of shows I produce. We talked about it for a while, but the first word that came to my mind was “fun.” I have produced serious public affairs or science-oriented programs for Outdoor Idaho, but if I can, I’ll jump on the chance to produce a show that is fun. And putting together “Jobs Without Walls” was fun.

Joan in helicopter helmet

Now fun doesn’t mean I didn’t have to work hard to create the show. I tried very hard to find profile subjects from around the state whose jobs are a bit unusual. We did a lot of traveling and I was lucky to work with some wonderful videographers: Jay Krajic, Chuck Cathcart, Pat Metzler and Aaron Kunz. Jay also did a great job editing the show. He is extraordinarily talented.

My producing-partner-in-crime on this show was John Crancer. He is responsible for the piece about mail carrier captain James Wesley Jones. John did such a nice job that I put his piece first. I produced the rest of the show, and I can tell you, producing each segment had its ups and downs, in some case literally.

Jay Krajic and I got to fly with Alesia Coulson, our Life Flight helicopter pilot and her crew. I never get tired of seeing the sights of the Sandpoint area from the air. It is so beautiful.

Chuck on jet boat

Carla getting motorcycle

Our jet boat trip filming with Steve Zanelli in Hells Canyon was equally beautiful and a bit bumpier. Still, one can never complain when your assignment is to go spend the day on a jet boat in Hells Canyon. Steve is a skill jet boat pilot and makes the job look so easy. I’ve been around long enough to know it isn’t. Steve and Alesia both shared family pictures with us to make the profiles more complete. I appreciated their kindness in sharing the precious memories with all of us. I also appreciated the folks at Idaho Power who made the trip happen and for all the historical footage they provided.

Carla Rebernak was our most reluctant interviewee, which is odd because she did so well. Jay and I trailed behind Carla except when she sped off on her motorcycle. Jay could keep up, but I wisely decided enjoying the shade of a nearby tree was a better use of my time.

Setting up at capitol building

For me, the unsung heroes of our piece about Chris Niccoli and the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree were the videographers. When we were filming the first parts of this piece, I got very sick. Pat and Chuck had to carry on without me and did well. But my greatest appreciation goes to Aaron Kunz, my videographer who went to Washington, D.C., with me to film the lighting of the tree. On the day of the ceremony, the television crews need to be in place hours before the ceremony starts. We knew that in order to get a good place we had to be early. We got there just in time to stand out in the bitter cold, driving wind, and pouring rain. As you can see from the set up in the picture, there wasn’t much to protect us from the elements. It was a real challenge to keep the equipment dry, let alone the producer and videographer. After a couple of hours, I started turning blue. Aaron, being the gentleman he is, sent me off to get out of the rain for an hour, and he stood guard. When I came back to give him a break, the U.S. Capitol security folks sent everyone away so the dogs could sniff everyone’s equipment and make sure all was well, so both of us had a chance to get warm.

The lighting ceremony was exciting and Chris Niccoli and all the folks from the Payette National Forest were a joy, but I think both Aaron and I were glad to get back to the hotel and to dry clothes.

Aaron also did a very nice job editing the piece we produced for the PBS Newshour. You can see that here. (link to story)

I haven’t yet figured out what my next “fun” assignment will be for Outdoor Idaho. If you have a suggestion, send it to me. Meanwhile, enjoy the show.

The Pioneers - as Rugged as the Name

By Bruce Reichert
November 9, 2017

Goat Lake, Idaho's highest named lake. Photo by Rick Gerrard
Goat Lake, Idaho's highest named lake.
Photo by Rick Gerrard

I’ll confess up front - I knew next to nothing about the Pioneer Mountains before working on our new show, “Into the Pioneers.”

At a very young age, I had become enthralled with the Sawtooths - and later the White Clouds - and seldom ventured beyond those mountains. Never felt the need.

I now know why so many people love the “Pios.” They have everything, from big mountains to big fish, from big game to big cirques, big meadows and impressive changes in terrain.

Like many others, I had thought of the Pioneers as mainly a series of foothills. Little did I know that these mountains - positioned between glamorous Sun Valley and desolate Craters of the Moon -- are Idaho’s second highest range, with a crest of about 11,000 feet. Only the Lost River Range is higher.

Pondering the Black Dike of Old Hyndman Peak. Photo by Terry Lee
Old Hyndman Peak and the black dike.
Photo by Terry Lee

The Pioneers also hold the distinction of having the highest named lake. We hiked up to Goat Lake - elevation 10,438 --on July 27 to discover that a third of the lake was still frozen over. And every day we were there, we got to experience a good old-fashioned summer storm, complete with wind, rain, lightning, and hail.

One can’t help but be impressed with the “feel” of the place. It’s not official wilderness, but it’s every bit as wild as the congressionally designated wildernesses of the Sawtooths, the Boulders, and the White Clouds.

I was delighted that so many of my colleagues wanted a piece of the action. Melissa Davlin organized a group that successfully summited Old Hyndman, braving the infamous black dike.

Viewing the eclipse near Pioneer Cabin. Photo by Peter Morrill
Viewing the eclipse near Pioneer Cabin.
Photo by Peter Morrill

Marcia Franklin and her team followed world champion cyclist Rebecca Rusch for a bike race up Trail Creek and through Copper Basin. And videographers Jay Krajic and Peter Morrill hit some high mountain lakes on their own, bringing back exquisite video. They also joined a group of us who hiked up to Pioneer Cabin to catch the solar eclipse on August 21. About 30 others had the same idea; and no one left disappointed.

But these special places really come alive for us when we meet the people who love them and spend time in them. And by that standard, the Pioneers are an Idaho masterpiece. We’ve included many of these “characters” in our hour-long tribute to this mountain range.

As one of them said to us while sitting on a horse near Copper Basin, “My soul is happy here. When you see these peaks, you feel like you’re completely in God’s country. This place feeds your soul.”

Wildhorse Canyon. Photo by Jay Krajic
Wildhorse Canyon. Photo by Jay Krajic

View previous entries