For about twenty years now, I've hit the road every pledge season to remind people that public television is an oasis on the dial — a place that doesn't dumb us down, but engages us. It treats us not as shoppers, but as neighbors and fellow citizens. It respects our intellect, assumes an attention span, and brings us programming driven not by a passion for keeping advertisers happy, but by a passion for bringing us a better understanding of our world.
To lend a hand to this mission, I recently visited public television stations in San Francisco (KQED), Chicago the night before (WTTW), and also Minnesota's Twin Cities (TPT), where I was charmed by this red-headed public television fan and travel enthusiast. (I told him I looked just like him when I was in second grade.)
If you haven't been disappointed by the sinking standards of the Travel Channel over the last decade (where so many thoughtful travel shows have been bumped by reality shows, binge-eating programs, and the like), then maybe you're fine with the impact of corporate-owned media — where the volume is cranked up in a frantic attempt to goose viewership and keep advertisers happy.
On the other hand, if you appreciate the level-headed presence of public broadcasting and what it contributes to our society, I have a request for you.
While you're online reading my April edition of Travel News, please take a moment to "vote" for thoughtful television by going to your local public television station's website and making a contribution. You can even tell them Rick sent you.
To keep my part of the deal, this spring and summer I'll be in Europe with my TV crew, creating quality shows on Italy's Cinque Terre and Veneto, Prague, Berlin, and the Netherlands. This coming fall you'll see them on the public TV channel that you're a member of. I hope you can join us.
As I've been signing-off on my shows for two decades now, "Keep on travelin'!"
Thanks and happy travels,