Tribune and KUED kick off 'The Utah Bucket List'
About a year and a half ago, Salt Lake Tribune outdoor writer Brett Prettyman was having coffee with KUED-Channel 7's Ken Verdoia and pitching him a few ideas for documentaries.
"I kind of envisioned that he wanted hard-core news," Prettyman said. "Big issues."
He suggested federal lands in Utah. Verdoia said no.
Prettyman proposed wolves in Utah. "And he said, 'Nah. Let's have some fun. Let's do something cool,' " Prettyman said.
"So I said, 'What about a Utah bucket list?' "
Verdoia jumped at the idea.
"There are few people in the state who have traveled Utah's back roads and trails as much as Brett Prettyman," said KUED's director of production. "What a human resource."
What grew out of that conversation is "The Utah Bucket List," a cooperative effort of The Salt Lake Tribune and KUED a 13-part series in the newspaper and a TV documentary that will air in August.
"Public television, and Utah's flagship public station, seems the perfect place for a broadcast project exploring the state's magical terrain and a logical project partner for The Salt Lake Tribune," said one of the newspaper's managing editors, Terry Orme. "When Brett, [KUED's] Nancy [Green] and Ken brought the idea to us, it didn't take much convincing."
It is a bit of a departure for Prettyman a foray into the world of TV hosting and for KUED.
"We are used to doing issues-oriented shows a little bit more serious," said Green, the TV project's producer. "And this is fun because it really is just, 'Let's go out and see this wonder that is Utah.' "
The hardest part was whittling down Prettyman's original list of more than 100 items to something more manageable.
"It was seriously massive," he said.
They decided the list had to include a few icons, some extreme experiences and a few things that everyone can easily do and came up with 13 items.
"We knew it couldn't just be extreme sports or death-defying leaps of faith for the young and strong," Verdoia said. "We knew we wanted the list to contain a range of expense, with emphasis on including locations and activities that would not require equipment or access fees.
"We knew we wanted to celebrate the unique beauty of the state."
The series and documentary include white-water floating in Cataract Canyon, racing down the bobsled run at Utah Olympic Park near Park City and mountain biking on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. But the list also includes a wildflower festival and driving to see fall colors in Utah's mountains.
Those easier-to-get-to, more-mellow experiences turned out to be favorites of Green and Prettyman.
"What I didn't really appreciate was how much I'd love some of the smaller things that anyone can do," Green said. "Going up to the wildflower festival such a small thing, and it's right in our backyard."
And going to Farmington Bay to see bald eagles "should be on your bucket list because it's amazing," Prettyman said. "It may not seem that major, but it's something that's very cool that Utahns should take advantage of."
Prettyman isn't altogether new to being on camera. He's hosted more than 40 online videos produced in cooperation with Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources videos that Verdoia, his Facebook friend, saw online.
"I don't feel like I'm out of my element," Prettyman said. "I'm speaking about things I've covered for more than 20 years."
Green said that working with the Tribune staffer has been "really fun, actually. Because he's not Mr. TV. He's just goofy, and he has so much enthusiasm for the outdoors and for wildlife. He's that kind of guy."
"One thing about Brett and his outdoor beat: It is tailor-made for a public-television documentary," Orme said. "Another thing about Brett: He just might have the best job in Utah."
Green said it has been "really refreshing" to work with Prettyman. "And it's been fun seeing the places through his eyes because there's no way I would put something like the bison roundup on Antelope Island on my bucket list. And then you go out there and you see why it's there."
You can hear that kind of enthusiasm in Prettyman's voice when he talks about sailing on the Great Salt Lake at dusk.
"There are no sunsets in this world better than a Great Salt Lake sunset," he said. "It's stupendous. It should be on everybody's bucket list."
He wants to ensure everyone who lives in the state actually has a Utah bucket list.
"Bottom line, I just hope people get out and do these things," Prettyman said. "We live in an amazing state, and I don't think people realize that. When I hear stories of people who live in the valleys who have never even been up Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, it horrifies me.
"I want people to have a reason to go. If Utah's bucket list gives them a reason, then that's what it's about."
"The Utah Bucket List" is designed to be a beginning, not a be-all, end-all.
"This is just the starting point," Prettyman said. "We want readers and viewers to add to it."
"We knew we've only touched upon one one-hundredth of what you can do in Utah," Green said. "This isn't the definitive Utah bucket list. We want people to tell us what they think will be on the bucket list because, hopefully, this will continue."
To join the conversation and add to the list, check out the Facebook page facebook.com/UtahBucketList.
"The only certainty is that viewers like our production team will look at the list and demand more," Verdoia said. "Some are sure to claim that we missed their best moment or location. And we hope that will drive the next round of production, including more places and activities."
He held open the possibility of follow-ups. Maybe an extreme bucket list for thrill-seekers. A family bucket list. A backpacking bucket list. A festival bucket list. A history bucket list.
"I can tell you there are a lot more things in Utah that belong on the list," Prettyman said. "A whole lot more."
The Utah Bucket List
To add to The Utah Bucket List, check out the Facebook page facebook.com/UtahBucketList.
To view a trailer of KUED's documentary, go to http://bit.ly/19tPLWx.