Young Writers! It’s Time to Enter the PBS KIDS Writers Contest

For the 27th year, Idaho Public Television is hosting the PBS KIDS Writers Contest. IdahoPTV’s three regional stations — KUID/Moscow, KISU/Pocatello and KAID/Boise — encourage young authors and artists in kindergarten through third grade to write and illustrate their own imaginative story and submit it by Saturday, March 20, for a chance to win prizes and have their work published online.

Entry forms, rules, FAQs and teacher tips are available at  The contest is open to children in grades K-3 residing within IdahoPTV’s over-the-air service area, which includes all of Idaho and parts of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon and Nevada.

Regional volunteer panels will judge the entries on creativity, originality, language skills and illustrations. Winners in each grade level from each of the three Idaho regions will be selected and will receive prizes including toys, books, and a $100 contribution to an IDeal – Idaho College Savings Program account. Winners will be announced on or around April 1, 2021.

In May, a virtual awards ceremony will be held in each region of Idaho to celebrate the winners and their stories. The winning stories will then be uploaded in full color onto the IdahoPTV website:

IdahoPTV thanks the sponsors of this year’s contest: The F.M., Anne G. & Beverly B. Bistline Foundation in the Idaho Community Foundation and IDeal – Idaho College Savings Program.

‘Classroom Idaho’ Spring Session Broadcasts Home Learning Lessons

Access to the internet can be a challenge in Idaho, especially in the state’s rural areas. That’s why, with online learning continuing in many districts until the end of the current school year, Idaho Public Television is continuing to bring the classroom into viewers’ homes with free broadcasts of Classroom Idaho: Learn@Home on our CREATE Channel.

Last spring when schools across the state shut down and moved to distance learning, IdahoPTV knew there were thousands of parents and students without internet access and/or devices with which to access high-quality instruction. In response to that need, we launched Classroom Idaho, a free broadcast service that allows students to receive over-the-air instruction each weekday from certified Idaho teachers. Each lesson is aligned to Idaho content standards.

The Classroom Idaho broadcasts will continue for a spring 2021 session (Feb. 1-May 21 with a pause from March 22-26 for spring break).

Lessons for students in grades K-6 will broadcast each weekday on our CREATE Channel (one of our five free broadcast channels) at the times listed below. Late afternoon hours will be a mix of English Language Learning (ELL) programs for all ages and PBS At-Home Learning programs for grades 7-12.

Classroom Idaho spring session 2021 is available for free across the entire state via an over-the-air antenna. Additionally, many cable providers carry the CREATE Channel in areas around the state. Check with your local cable provider for availability.

Idaho Public Television General Manager Ron Pisaneschi shared the station’s enthusiasm for the project. “We are pleased to partner with the Boise School District, Jannus, and the Idaho State Board of Education to use the power of public television to deliver these lessons to students and families in homes throughout Idaho. PBS has always been America’s largest classroom, but now we are bringing Idaho’s teachers and their lessons directly into students’ homes.”

Classroom Idaho: Learn@Home is a partnership of Idaho Public Television and the Boise School District, the English Language Center and the Idaho Office for Refugees (projects of Jannus), and the Idaho State Board of Education.

Find Idaho Political Coverage on ‘Idaho Reports’ and ‘Idaho in Session’

Idaho Public Television has it covered — Idaho’s government, that is — with Idaho Reports and Idaho in Session.

Idaho Reports, IdahoPTV’s weekly legislative news show, will continue to provide Friday evening coverage on COVID-19 in Idaho while also bringing viewers highlights from the Idaho Legislature, beginning with a half-hour legislative preview on Friday, Jan. 8, at 8 PM.

Idaho in Session is IdahoPTV’s gavel-to-gavel service that includes live on-air and online coverage of the Idaho Legislature. Coverage may look different this year due to social distancing, but meetings of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) and all other committees will be available online at Coverage of the House and the Senate can be viewed live over the air on our PLUS and WORLD channels.

Idaho Public Television thanks the sponsors who make Idaho in Session possible: Union Pacific Foundation, Boise State University School of Public Service, Idaho State Broadcasters Association, Idaho Cable Broadband Association, Association of Idaho Cities, University of Idaho James A. & Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, and the Idaho Public Television Endowment.

Idaho Public Television Offers Free Streaming of Our IDAHO Channel

Do you want to watch Idaho Public Television but don’t have an antenna, cable or satellite TV? Now it’s no problem with IdahoPTV’s new live stream, available online and on most smart devices through the free PBS Video app.

The IDAHO Channel, our main broadcast channel, is now streaming live across our service area. The live stream is available to anyone with an internet-connected device such as a computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone and a major web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge) by visiting

The live stream is also available through streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and many smart TVs by downloading the free PBS Video app, which is available for most smart devices.

The addition of the IDAHO Channel live stream expands access to Idaho Public Television for households across the state. The IDAHO Channel live stream is one more way for people to find educational and entertaining PBS programming without the expense of cable or satellite television, and may be a better option for rural or remote areas where over-the-air reception is unreliable.

“One of Idaho Public Television’s three major initiatives is to allow for all Idahoans to have access to our content when they want and how they want,” says Ron Pisaneschi, IdahoPTV general manager. “From our educational PBS KIDS programs during the day, to our current affairs and science shows in the evening, to our beloved dramas on the weekends, now, more than ever, there are more ways to watch our IDAHO Channel!”

Holiday Music and Family Specials in December

December is filled with local and international Christmas musical performances and family holiday specials to warm your nights.

Reprising the original Kingston Trio lineup’s 1960 holiday album The Last Month of the Year, the current trio (comprised of George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty) perform this unique collection of holiday tunes in The Kingston Trio: Holiday Cheers (Monday, Dec. 7, at 9 PM). The special includes a pre-recorded appearance by the legendary Bob Shane, co-founder and sole surviving member of the original trio, making what would be his final concert appearance.

In Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir Featuring Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas (Monday, Dec. 14, at 8 PM), the Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells at Temple Square join with actress and singer Kelli O’Hara and actor Richard Thomas to celebrate the message of Christmas — a message of love, selfless service, and gratitude for a savior who brings peace. With vocalists, instrumentalists, bell ringers, dancers, the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, and the Cold Creek bluegrass band, the concert is a visual and musical spectacle.

The University of Idaho Holiday Concert (Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 PM and Friday, Dec. 18, at 10:30 PM) celebrates the holidays Idaho style. Local middle- and high-school choral groups, orchestras, bell choirs, flute choirs and jazz ensembles perform holiday classics together with musicians from the U of I’s Lionel Hampton School of Music. It’s a University of Idaho holiday tradition with an eclectic selection of old (and maybe new) seasonal favorites for the entire family to enjoy.

Enjoy an evening celebrating jazz great Ella Fitzgerald’s entire iconic album of holiday classics presented by the American Pops Orchestra and special guest performers in Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas With Vanessa Williams (Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 8 PM). Williams is joined by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Norm Lewis, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Nova Payton, Dave Detwiler and Morgan James to sing new life into this collection of holiday favorites originally recorded by Fitzgerald in 1960 at the peak of her interpretive prowess.

For many families over several generations, the celebration of the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season begins with the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival, a century-old tradition of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. The college is unable to offer an in-person celebration this year, but The St. Olaf Christmas Festival: A New Song of Joy and Hope will still air (Monday, Dec. 21, at 9 PM). The special will feature treasured musical performances captured from recent St. Olaf Christmas Festival presentations with additional material from past festivals not seen in many years.

A BYU-Idaho Christmas is an annual tradition that draws audiences from throughout eastern Idaho for a holiday concert that features nationally renowned singers performing with the symphony orchestra, dancers, and an array of choirs from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg. This year’s broadcast (Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7 PM and Friday, Dec. 25, at 9:30 PM) features acclaimed opera singer Frederica Von Stade and the San Francisco-based Sonos Handbell Ensemble.

In a concert tradition that began in the 1930s, the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra at SUNY Potsdam come together each year to present a special holiday performance. Crane Candlelight Concert: Go Tell It on the Mountain (Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 9 PM) features Broadway and opera star Lisa Vroman performing holiday favorites “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and her unique arrangements of “The Secret of Christmas” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”

Call the Midwife Holiday Special 2020 (Friday, Dec. 25, at 8 PM) takes viewers to 1965, where Nonnatus House staff are looking forward to traditional celebrations with all the trimmings, but nothing goes quite as planned. Sister Monica Joan is rushed to the hospital and Trixie is incensed to receive a subscription to a matchmaking service as a Christmas gift. In addition to new friendships, new experiences, and an exciting adventure for Nurse Crane, the circus rolls into Poplar with Peter Davison (Doctor Who) taking the role of circus ringmaster, Mr. Percival.

Say goodbye to 2020 with a concert celebrating the irrepressible strength of Americans with United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America (Thursday, Dec. 31, at 9 PM). The concert, recorded at Mt. Vernon, features a fireworks finale and performances by Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brandi Carlile, Audra McDonald, Denyce Graves, Anna Deavere Smith, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Patti LaBelle, the National Symphony Orchestra, the American Pops Orchestra and the Military Brass Ensemble.

Scale Idaho’s Highest Peaks and Explore Gem State History

Two new films from Outdoor Idaho and Idaho Experience journey to all nine of Idaho’s 12,000-foot mountain peaks and explore moments from Gem State history. The episodes air Sunday, Dec. 6, as part of the final night of our fall on-air fundraiser, DecemberFest.

 “Idaho’s 12ers” on Outdoor Idaho

Some seek thrills, some seek records, some push themselves to the edge of physical and mental endurance. But for most Idaho climbers, standing on the top of Idaho’s tallest mountains is reward enough. For the DecemberFest special Idaho’s 12ers (Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7 PM), the Outdoor Idaho production crew spent time on all nine of the Gem State’s 12,000-foot peaks (and a few 11,000-footers) with 44 intrepid climbers of a variety of ages and experience levels — Idaho natives and newcomers, experts and novices, men and women.

“Our climbing partners ranged from the 7-, 8- and 9-year-old kids who are the youngest people to climb all the 12ers, to the retired Boise State University math professors who have climbed all 123 Idaho peaks 11,000 feet and higher,” says producer Bill Manny. “It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun.”

Outdoor Idaho explores Idaho’s 12ers and gets to know the people who cherish Idaho’s highest places from close-up and from afar.

“Books, Boats and Embezzlers” on Idaho Experience

For the DecemberFest special Books, Boats and Embezzlers (Sunday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 PM), our Idaho Experience team shares a collection of short stories drawn from Idaho’s rich and varied history: a publisher who maintains hands-on printing traditions; how Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho influenced him; the steamboats that thrived on Lake Pend Oreille at the turn of the 20th century; an infamous Idaho criminal from a pioneer family; and drive-in theaters that keep movie-watching traditions alive.

For Marcia Franklin, who produced a piece on the Ardingers of Limberlost Press, it was a chance to step back in time and watch as the couple lovingly crafted a chapbook of poems — from printing on a century-old letterpress to sewing each book by hand. It was also an homage to Franklin’s father, who had a similar press in their home on which the two of them would print holiday cards. “Nostalgic feelings seem to be coming to the fore for many of us these days,” says Franklin. “This edition of Idaho Experience will take viewers on a drive down a country lane of the past, and hopefully help uplift spirits. And like a good story, watch for more! Many of these pieces will be expanded in future seasons into full-length programs.”

More DecemberFest Specials to Warm Your Nights

Here are some of the musical performances, documentaries, and arts and entertainment specials you’ll find during the final days of DecemberFest 2020 (Wednesday-Sunday, Dec. 2-6). For a complete lineup, visit

Journey to Lapland, where tales of Santa Claus mingle with hearty wildlife and stunning landscapes, in Santa’s Wild Home on Nature (Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 PM). Explore this region in northern Finland, the fabled home of Santa and actual home of reindeer, wolverines, eagles, wolves, brown bears and more.

Blenko Glass: Behind the Scenes (Friday, Dec. 4, at 9 PM) travels to the hills of Milton, West Virginia, to discover how each unique piece of beautiful, hand-blown glassware is created at the family-owned Blenko Glassworks by human hands and hearts, not by impersonal machines.

The Avett Brothers perform songs highlighting their energetic and eclectic combination of bluegrass, country, punk, pop melodies, folk and indie rock in a concert at a stunning Colorado outdoor venue in The Avett Brothers at Red Rocks (Friday, Dec. 4, at 10 PM).

On May 5, 1973, Johnny Cash performed a stellar set at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, featuring an appearance by his wife, June Carter Cash. The recently discovered footage airs for the first time in Johnny Cash: A Night to Remember (Saturday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 PM).

Recorded in Norway in February 2020, Judy Collins – Winter Stories (Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7 PM) is a collection of seasonal tales and emotionally evocative songs by folk singer-songwriter Collins with Norwegian folk artist Jonas Fjeld and American bluegrass band Chatham County Line.

ABBA Forever – A Celebration (Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8:30 PM) combines live performance clips with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews to tell the story of the Swedish band that performed together for only 10 years but remains one of the biggest-selling musical acts of all time.

Some seek thrills, some seek records, some push themselves to the edge of physical and mental endurance. But for most Idaho climbers, standing on the top of Idaho’s tallest mountains is reward enough. For Idaho’s 12ers (Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7 PM), the Outdoor Idaho production crew spent time on all nine of the Gem State’s 12,000-foot peaks (and a few 11,000-footers) with 44 intrepid climbers of a variety of ages and experience levels — Idaho natives and newcomers, experts and novices, men and women.

In Books, Boats and Embezzlers (Sunday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 PM), our Idaho Experience team shares a collection of short stories drawn from Idaho’s rich and varied history: a publisher who maintains hands-on printing traditions; how Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho influenced him; the steamboats that thrived on Lake Pend Oreille at the turn of the 20th century; and drive-in theaters that keep movie-watching traditions alive.

The Western Front of World War I, Christmas 1914. Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. A German soldier steps into No Man’s Land singing “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night). Thus begins an extraordinary (though fleeting) night of camaraderie, music and peace. The theatrical performance All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 (Sunday, Dec. 6, at 9:30 PM) recreates this remarkable true story, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it.

Escape With Us During the First Weekend of DecemberFest

The first weekend of DecemberFest 2020 is Friday-Sunday, Nov. 27-29, with three evenings of special programming. Here are some of the new musical performances and arts and entertainment specials we have in store for you. For a complete lineup, visit

Recorded at the Sydney Opera House, Lea Salonga in Concert (Nov. 27 at 9:30 PM) is a performance recorded at the Sydney Opera House featuring the internationally acclaimed singer Lea Salonga and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The concert features selections from Salonga’s Broadway career (Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Flower Drum Song and other musicals), as well as songs she performed in the animated Disney blockbusters Aladdin and Mulan.

Ken Burns: Here & There (Nov. 28 at 4 PM) captures the intimate 40-year relationship filmmaker Ken Burns has had with America, his colleagues, his family and community, and with history. Those close to Burns reveal how “America’s storyteller” has become so adept at taking sweeping historical concepts and making them relatable to his audiences.

In John Denver: Country Roads – Live in England (Nov. 28 at 5:30 PM), the singer-songwriter performs fan favorites in a 1986 concert filmed at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England. Performances include “Farewell Andromeda,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Sunshine on my Shoulders” and other songs.

Andy Williams: Greatest Love Songs (My Music) airs Nov. 28 at 7 PM. This special presents many of the romantic crooner’s biggest hits in colorful, full-length performances not seen in decades along with previously unaired recollections from Williams. Songs include “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Dear Heart,” “Butterfly” and “Moon River.”

In Josh Groban: An Evening of Harmony (Nov. 28 at 8:30 PM), join Groban for highlights from three virtual concert events filmed during the coronavirus lockdown. Performances feature songs from his new album, Harmony, as well as fan favorites and many of Groban’s greatest hits.

The documentary Classic Albums: John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band (Nov. 29 at 5:30 PM) explores the making of Lennon’s first post-Beatles record. Widely regarded as one of his finest, Plastic Ono Band is a raw, emotionally painful yet beautiful collection of personal and cathartic songs. The film features interviews with Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr.

Celebrate the iconic series that introduced generations of PBS viewers to the delights of British drama in Masterpiece: 50 Fabulous Years! (Nov. 29 at 8:30 PM). From Upstairs Downstairs and I, Claudius to The Jewel in the Crown and Downton Abbey, see why Masterpiece has stood the test of time as a beloved favorite.

Dolly Parton: I Will Always Love You (My Music) celebrates the beloved singer-songwriter’s career from her early days in rural Tennessee to her success as a crossover pop superstar. Featured performances include “Coat of Many Colors,” “Here You Come Again,” “Islands in the Stream” (with Kenny Rogers) and “9 to 5.” The show airs Nov. 29 at 10 PM.

Join IdahoPTV and MontanaPBS for “Tech Talk Tuesday”

Join Idaho Public Television and MontanaPBS for Tech Talk Tuesday, a monthly online virtual discussion about teaching and learning with technology. The monthly discussions are hosted by Kari Wardle and Nikki Vradenburg, public media educators who are tech nerds and former classroom teachers!

The monthly discussions are held the last Tuesday of each month and feature teachers from both states sharing strategies, tips and tricks, and real-world solutions for integrating technology in your classroom.

This is NOT another boring webinar! Tech Talk Tuesdays are all about teachers talking about teaching and learning with technology! With more than 30 collective years in public education (and nerddom), Nikki and Kari have the expertise and ability to provide relevant and useful content for teachers. If you can’t join live, don’t worry, all Tech Talks will be recorded and archived on YouTube. Learn more at

“MontanaPBS is thrilled to collaborate with Idaho Public Television to host Tech Talk Tuesday for teachers in both of our states. The conversations are sure to be packed with great, just in time, information for teachers as they implement media and technology with students.  This is a rich opportunity for teachers in Montana and Idaho to share and learn together proving that in public media we are better together!”
— Nikki Vradenburg, MontanaPBS

“I am excited to partner with MontanaPBS to facilitate Tech Talk Tuesday. We recognize that teachers are being inundated with distance learning and remote teaching resources, so we hope that Tech Talk will provide teachers with the WHY and the HOW for using those resources. Additionally, we are proud to elevate the voice of innovative teachers from both of our states and showcase the amazing things they are doing. Please join us on the last Tuesday of each month. You won’t be disappointed.”
— Kari Wardle, IdahoPTV

Join Us for an Online Screening of ‘Barns of Idaho’

Please register to join us for a free online screening of Barns of Idaho, the newest film from Idaho Public Television’s original series Outdoor Idaho. The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker, Forrest Burger, and special guests Frank Eld and Dawn Dempsey.

The screening will be hosted on the interactive platform OVEE on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. Mountain / 6 p.m. Pacific time. Viewers can RSVP to attend, and join in the live screening and discussion, using this link:

Barns of Idaho will air on Idaho Public Television on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 9 p.m. and will repeat Sunday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. Viewers can also stream Barns of Idaho through the PBS Video app or online at beginning Thursday, Oct. 8.

About ‘Barns of Idaho’

Idaho was built on agriculture and farming, and barns have always played a vital role in that history. When the Outdoor Idaho staff kicked around the idea of doing a show about barns in our state, we had no idea what kind of reaction we would get from our viewers. So, we decided to put a feeler out on Facebook. Boy, did we ever get some great feedback. Because, like preservationist Frank Eld says, “Everyone loves a barn!”

Barns of Idaho producer/director Forrest Burger says, “The response to the idea was almost overwhelming. And, more importantly, there were some great tips we got about barns that we pursued for the show.”

Although we’re not able to highlight all of the outstanding barns in our great state, we did our best to focus on some interesting ones and the stories that surround them.

About Filmmaker Forrest Burger

Producer/director Forrest Burger has been with Idaho Public Television for nearly two years. Prior to that he owned his own video production company for more than 20 years producing documentaries and corporate videos. He started his career as a photojournalist for CNN in Tokyo and later worked as a video editor for 60 Minutes in New York City.

About Panelist Frank Eld

Frank Eld was raised in the Finnish homestead in Long Valley, Idaho. After graduation from Columbia University in 1969, Frank founded the Preservation Society in Roseberry, Idaho. Frank is a recognized expert on Finnish log construction, researching and lecturing throughout the United States and Canada. His research has resulted in the book Finnish Log Construction, The Art. Since retirement, Frank continues his restoration work as well as chairing the Preservation Idaho’s Barn Register Committee. Frank also continues traveling across the upper United States locating and documenting Finnish communities and their log construction and working on his current book while studying for his master’s at Boise State.

About Panelist Dawn Dempsey

Dawn Dempsey, also known as “The Horse Rescuer,” is the founder of Survivors Rescue Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, providing sanctuary for abandoned, neglected and abused horses. She has been a lifelong advocate for animal rights and is dedicated to being “the voice for those that have none.” Her organization rescues horses from slaughter, rehabilitates them into lifetime homes, educates the community with hands-on horsemanship and animal well-being, and teaches awareness of equine health and welfare. Survivors Rescue Inc. also offers gelding incentives and promotes companion animals in therapy. Some of Dawn’s techniques that were once considered by veterinarians to be “not medically possible” are now being implemented at WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The generous support her organization receives means life for those she rescues.