For those of us of a certain length of tooth, America's brief flirtation with the 18th amendment resides as an indelible memory from either the old Untouchables TV series starring Robert Stack as Eliot Ness or from family stories of our own bootleggers. Legend and lore gives way to reality and accuracy this month when the Volstead Act gets the Ken Burns' treatment in his latest project titled Prohibition.
Reputedly his best work ever, Mr. Burns looks at the various competing elements in the country that brought about America's grandest attempt at social engineering. There was much more in play than demon rum. Bigotry, racism, demagoguery, a national income tax, organized crime and corruption at all levels of politics all shared a part of the blame for America going dry. See for yourself the real story of Prohibition on October 2-4 here on WTVP. And don't be afraid to share your own stories of the era with others because the statute of limitations has probably passed.
National programs from PBS are not the only reason to tune in to WTVP this fall. Local programs return with another season of viewer favorites likeIllinois Adventure, At Issue with H Wayne Wilson, and Interesting People with Ed Sutkowski. Ed starts his sixth season of personality interviews with former Chicago Bears coach and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. Country Financial returns as the proud underwriter of Illinois Adventure both on air and online, and H again covers topics of interest that make up our unique Central Illinois coverage area.
Other new local programs are in the works. Senior Producer Todd Pilon extends his Healthy Families series to include topics like STDs and teen pregnancy. Executive Producer Bill Baker continues development of The Boxcar People, a look back at the migrant workers brought from Mexico to Galesburg a generation ago to build railroads in the Midwest. The production staff is also working on a philosophy series with Peoria Notre Dame High School and Illinois Central College faculty member Tim Irwin that will be shot on location at Kelleher's Irish Pub, and are developing two separate music and art projects, one featuring the Peoria Symphony Orchestra's George Stelluto and one featuring the Heartland Festival Orchestra's David Commanday.
All in all, this should be another exceptional programming season on public television both nationally and locally. It's definitely television worth watching...and worth supporting.
President & CEO, WTVP (Retired)