Temporary studio at the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center was the home of Indian Country Today. This week the news program moves into a regular studio at Arizona PBS. (Mark Trahant photo)
Sometimes a call for patience can be tough.
This is Trahant Reports.
In Phoenix, Arizona, the team that produces the television version of Indian Country Today has been eager to get into the studio to produce a better version of the show.
This whole enterprise is a pandemic special.
Last March we started producing Zoom calls and Facebook live reports and discovered that we had a significant audience. At the time ICT was a digital publication but we had also planned on a weekly broadcast. So we started to interview key people about what was going on … the first episode was asking reporters what was going on what they saw. Then Dean Seneca, an expert in infectious disease. Then we started doing it everyday.
Within a week the programs were 26 minutes and 46 seconds … this is the PBS standard for a half-hour show. The program was carried by FNX: First Nations Experience … and we were producing a daily news report. Last summer we created a temporary studio at the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center.
A lot has happened since then. We never could have pulled this off without the pandemic. Normally we would have needed millions of dollars in equipment and people in order to produce a broadcast quality program. But the pandemic was an excuse to do it differently. We could interview people on Zoom. We used a home office or living room as a studio. We showed that the content, Native American stories, was worthy of a national audience.
Today we are carried daily or weekly by many public television stations across the country (and in Australia.) As they say … check your local listing. More are being added regularly.
March 15 was supposed to be our first day in a new studio at Arizona PBS. But late last week there was a COVID-19 report in our building. So we all went home again. I recorded Monday’s show in my living room, a full circle.
The good news is the test was a false positive — our show will debut in the studio later this week.
That’s really cool because there is so much news going on now. Soon we will be able to say, Madam Secretary, as Rep. Deb Haaland is confirmed as the Secretary of the interior. And the new American Rescue Plan Act has so much to unpack because it’s the most significant investment in tribal communities in the history of our country,
But the lesson here is worth heeding. Even though we have plans … even though we want life to return to normal … we still live in a moment of caution.
When the pandemic began we did not let going home limit our imaginations. We can still balance innovation with safety.
As we begin the “what’s next?” portion of this story, this experience, is a lesson here for us all.
I am Mark Trahant.