Memoirist Explores Issues of Family Secrets and Personal Identity

In a new episode of “Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference” premiering Friday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. on Dialogue, host Marcia Franklin talks with author and Indiana University Bloomington associate professor Brando Skyhorse.

Skyhorse grew up believing he was the son of an activist in the American Indian movement. As a teenager, he learned that his biological father had been born in Mexico. He graduated from Stanford University and went on to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing, still passing himself off as Native American.

Skyhorse finally confronted his own story in a memoir called Take This Man, in which he tries to understand why his mother pretended that the two of them were Native American, and how that — along with abuse he suffered — affected his life.

The author also delves into the personalities of the five men he called “father,” and a discovery that changed his life forever.

The conversation was recorded at the 2019 Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. Franklin’s interviews conducted at that event since 2005 can be streamed here. The Dialogue interview airs again Sunday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m. and will be available for streaming at

IdahoPTV and PBS Unveil Updated Look

PBS announced this week an update to its iconic brand, including a refreshed logo, bold color palette, custom typeface and illustration style. The new identity will roll out throughout 2020 on broadcast, streaming and web platforms as PBS celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Idaho Public Television — in coordination with the PBS brand refresh — this week began rolling out its own updated look, beginning with a fully redesigned website: The new site design is based on years of suggestions from users and feedback from testing groups that helped to improve navigation and usability. The site was created on a modern web platform that allows for more flexibility between viewing on differently sized devices.

The new IdahoPTV look will begin to roll out on local broadcasts in December.

When the changes are fully implemented, audiences will see an exciting new look and feel that spans broadcast, mobile and digital viewing, making it easier to identify and rediscover the PBS and IdahoPTV content they know and love across platforms. The new logo is an evolution of the iconic PBS symbol, reflective of the diverse perspectives PBS offers through its content.

An evolution of the PBS brand can be viewed here.

The updated brand is paired with “PBS” rendered in a custom type that’s more modern, prominent, and designed to be highly legible as it migrates across platforms. The new brand identity also features a new, vibrant signature color, PBS Blue, designed to convey a sense of trust and integrity.

“We believe PBS represents the best of what media is capable of, and this brand refresh demonstrates that,” said Connie Birdsall, global creative director at Lippincott, the agency responsible for the PBS rebranding. “We built the new visual identity to be flexible and modern for a brand that sits at the center of both broadcast and digital media, providing memorable visual brand cues that highlight PBS programming and unify local and national communities, who all share a love of PBS.”

Historian Illuminates Congress’ Violent Past on Next ‘Dialogue’

In a new episode of “Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference” that premieres Friday, Nov. 8, at 8 p.m. on Dialogue, host Marcia Franklin talks with historian Joanne Freeman about her latest book, The Field of Blood. In the book, Freeman, a professor of history at Yale University, shows how the U.S. Congress before the Civil War was a more violent body than originally thought.

Freeman talks with Franklin about how she researched the book and whether her findings are applicable to the current political climate. She also discusses the value of studying history, and the focus of her next book on Alexander Hamilton. Freeman edited the Hamilton papers for a previous book, and was also featured in the PBS documentary “Hamilton’s America.”

The conversation was recorded at the 2019 Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. Franklin’s interviews conducted at that event since 2005 can be streamed here.

The Dialogue interview airs again Sunday, Nov. 10, at 11 a.m. and will be available for streaming at

Boise Teacher Selected as PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion

Grace Ruddy, a preschool teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in the Boise School District, is one of ten educators from across the country to be named a 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion. Ruddy is the first Early Learning Champion to be selected from Idaho.

Established in 2018, this national awards program recognizes committed educators who work with young children, from infants to second graders. The program offers a variety of community building, leadership and professional learning opportunities provided by PBS KIDS and local member stations.

According to a statement from PBS, this year’s honorees were selected for their passion and commitment to early education and have each demonstrated outstanding impact in supporting the growth and learning of the whole child, strengthening the ecosystem in which children learn and creating unique and innovative teaching experiences.

Samantha Hill, Idaho Public Television’s community education specialist, says Ruddy launched a program in the Boise School District called “All Ready Preschool,” which ran at two schools from 2004 to 2011. In 2015, she worked with the City of Boise to develop the Boise Pre-K Project as part of the city’s Energize Our Neighborhoods Investment Program. Ruddy has taught preschool, first grade and second grade, and continues to provide training and support to new teachers.

“Grace is very purposeful in her teaching and interactions with students and families,” says Hill. “She worked with the family of a student to learn some basic phrases in their home language of Urdu. She was then able to communicate with the mother throughout the school year. Grace reported that after learning some of these phrases, her relationship with the whole family was enhanced. Her story impressed many of us at IdahoPTV, as it is just one of the many ways Grace works to meet the needs of all students and their families.”

The IdahoPTV education team is eager to partner with Ruddy to enhance the education of early learners and foster professional development relationships between Idaho teachers. In November, Ruddy and her fellow Early Learning Champions will be celebrated in Nashville at the National Association for Young Children Conference.

The 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions and their local PBS stations include:

  • Janalyn Maes, Hodgin Elementary School, Albuquerque, New Mexico (NMPBS)
  • Grace Ruddy, Hawthorne Elementary School, Boise, Idaho (IdahoPTV)
  • Alexandra Mindler, Wilson Area School District, Easton, Pennsylvania (WLVT)
  • Melissa Cardon, Little Bubbles, Bellevue, Nebraska (NET)
  • Cherika Watford, Harris Early Learning Center, Birmingham, Alabama (APTV)
  • Sarah Saenz, Head Start Kent County, Grand Rapids, Michigan (WGVU)
  • Felicia Gray, Burris Laboratory School, Muncie, Indiana (WIPB)
  • Claudia Robles Arias, BilingualKid Language Immersion School, Mechanicsville, Virginia (WCVE)
  • Kristen Valley, Boone Park Elementary School, North Little Rock, Arkansas (AETN)
  • Dee Liggens, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OETA)

Idaho Novelist, Recipient of International Literary Prize, Featured on Next ‘Dialogue’

In a new episode of “Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference” that premieres Friday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. on Dialogue, host Marcia Franklin talks with award-winning novelist Emily Ruskovich. An assistant professor in the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing at Boise State University, Ruskovich is the author of the novel, Idaho. In 2019, it garnered the International Dublin Literary Award, which carries with it a prize of more than $100,000.

Franklin talks with Ruskovich about what it was like to win the award and how it has changed her life. The two also discuss the plot of Idaho, whose setting is based on the landscape of Ruskovich’s childhood on remote Hoodoo Mountain in northern Idaho. The story involves a mysterious murder of a young girl by her own mother, and the efforts of the father’s new wife to try and untangle what may have happened. Ruskovich also reflects on the process of writing the book.

The Dublin Literary Award judging panel called Idaho “a masterpiece on the redeeming and regenerative potential of music, poetry, literature and art.”

The conversation was recorded at the 2019 Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. Franklin’s interviews conducted at that event since 2005 can be streamed here.

The Dialogue interview airs again Sunday, Nov. 3, at 11 a.m. and will available for streaming at

‘Made in Boise’ Filmmaker, Surrogate Featured on Next ‘Dialogue’

In a new Dialogue interview that premieres Friday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m., host Marcia Franklin talks with Beth Aala, the director of “Made in Boise,” a documentary that explores the thriving gestational surrogacy industry in the Treasure Valley. Joining them is Nicole Williamson, one of the surrogates featured in the film.

Aala, a three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and a recipient of a Peabody Award for her documentary work at HBO, discusses how she discovered the Boise surrogacy story, why she thought it would make a good documentary, and the challenges involved in filming it.

Williamson, who has been a surrogate four times and is the CEO of a Boise-based surrogacy firm called A Host of Possibilities, talks about why she became a surrogate, why she started her firm, how she addresses misconceptions about surrogacy, and why she thinks Boise is a center for the practice.

The Dialogue interview airs again Sunday, Oct. 27, at 11 a.m. and will available for streaming at

“Made in Boise” airs Monday, Oct. 28, at 10 p.m. as part of the documentary series Independent Lens. The film goes inside the lives of four Boise surrogates as they build relationships with the intended parents, prepare for the rigors of pregnancy, and navigate the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.

As the number of surrogate births surges across the country, an epicenter of the movement is Idaho, with its large population of healthy women of reproductive age and a significant number of Mormon and Catholic communities who value large families. In Boise, it is estimated that one in 15 mothers will carry a baby for a stranger at some point in her life. For gay couples, single men and those who struggle with infertility, this industry — outlawed in many countries around the world — is often the last resort to biological parenthood. Legal in some states and illegal in others, a number of states, including Idaho, have no laws governing surrogacy on their books.

Each of the four women in the film — Nicole, Chelsea, Cindy and Sammie — arrives at the decision to become a surrogate for her own reasons. Nicole and her husband have two children and run Idaho’s largest surrogacy agency, which works with the other surrogates in the film. Nicole “loves being pregnant” and is in the midst of her fourth surrogate pregnancy when the film opens. Stay-at-home mom Chelsea has four children of her own and sees surrogacy as a way to process the stillbirth she suffered eight years ago. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse Cindy is one of the many nurses who become surrogates at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center to help the unique families coming through the local hospital. A single mother with two biological and three adopted children, she becomes a surrogate for the first time at age 42. Sammie, a 26-year-old nail technician and single mother, looks forward to the second income she otherwise wouldn’t have. But her friends and family are apprehensive about her choice.

‘Outdoor Idaho’ Looks at the Changing Threat From Wildfires

Wildfires have been a way of life in Idaho for millennia. But in recent years they’ve become increasingly more severe. Fire seasons are starting sooner, fires are burning hotter and they’re lasting longer.

Idaho Public Television’s original series Outdoor Idaho explores the reasons behind the increase in wildfires and what’s being done to help Idahoans cope with the changes in Living With Wildfire. The program premieres Thursday, Oct. 24, at 8 PM. (IdahoPTV Passport members can stream the program beginning Oct. 17.)

Fire and climate experts from the University of Idaho warn that our warming climate is adding fuel to an already dangerous wildfire and smoke problem. Declining air quality in the Western U.S. has prompted NASA and NOAA to come together to study wildfire smoke and its effects on our cities and our health.

And, as people move out into the countryside and closer to wildfires, they’re having to become Firewise to protect themselves, their land and their homes. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are also doing what they can to keep us safe through fuels suppression efforts like prescribed burns and tree thinning.

We’ve all heard the term “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If that’s true, then wildland fire photographer Kari Greer would seem to have enough words to fill an online dictionary. Her images from the fire line are stunning, and her work is important to documenting wildfire history.

Producer/director Forrest Burger says, “When I began researching this topic my ultimate goal was to not only show fire’s fury, but to also introduce our viewers to the people who are living with the threat of wildfire every day.”