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"There’s a lot more to great TV than just having smart people sit and talk about the issues that touch our lives," Verdoia said. "There’s getting out and seeing the issues. Experiencing them."
KUED has produced documentaries unique to Utah, including "The Struggle for Statehood," a biography of Brigham Young and a look at the history of polygamy. It also looks at current issues and the state’s diverse cultures. And it produces documentaries about the region — from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon and more.
KUED’s 2012 Awards
Rocky Mountain Emmys
Environment Program/Special: “Five Rivers, Five Voices”
Documentary — Historical: “Utah’s Freedom Riders”
Public/Current/Community Affairs — Program/ Special: “Climb for Life: A Legacy”
Audio — Live or Post Production: “Utah Vietnam War Stories: Escalation”
Director — Post-Production or Technical Director: “Horses of the West: America’s Love Story”
Photographer — Program (Non-News):“Five Rivers Five Voices”
Writer — Program (Non-News): “Five Rivers Five Voices”
Student Long Form (Fiction and Nonfiction): “Navigating Freedom”
Samantha Highsmith, Producer
Community Engagement: “Utah’s Freedom Riders”
Content Production/Science & Nature: “Horses of the West: America’s Love Story”
Utah Broadcasters/UBEE Awards
Best Lifestyle Program: “Climb for Life: A Legacy” (gold award); “Ethically Speaking: Perspectives of Utah Business Leaders” (bronze award)
Best Documentary: “Utah Vietnam War Stories: Escalation” (gold award); “Freedom’s Promise” (silver award)
Society of Professional Journalists
Documentary: “Freedom’s Promise” (first place)
Verdoia sees Utah storytelling as less of a mandate and more of a promise to serve the community and region.
"There’s an important role for public television that is different and apart from other contemporary broadcast media," he said.
Commercial stations don’t have the resources to produce local, long-form documentaries.
"I just feel grateful that we have the luxury of doing this kind of thing," Dunn said, "because our local news operations are not going to be able to do it, unless you consider a minute-and-a-half an in-depth story."
Working in public television is different from working in commercial TV, added KUED producer Nancy Green. "It’s liberating as a storyteller, because you’re not tied to ratings and advertisers. Instead, our measure of success comes from community involvement, engagement and support."
Jennifer Dahl, KUTV’s director of news and operations, agreed that public and commercial television stations occupy different niches.
"Our mission is to provide quality local news seven days a week," she said. "It’s very different from what they do."
Dahl praised the work KUED does, pointing specifically to the "Utah Vietnam Stories" that featured two of her staff — Sterling Poulson and Rod Decker.
"It was beautiful," she said.
Projects currently in production at KUED include a documentary about the history of Brigham Street — Salt Lake City’s 100 South — and the Utah bucket list of things to do that features The Tribune’s outdoor writer, Brett Prettyman.
KUED filmmakers also are hard at work on a documentary about the air quality in Utah.
"I’m just happy that we’ll be able to take the time to really dive into that story and tell it well," Dunn said. "And, hopefully, it’s something that spurs action."
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