Eight, Arizona PBS has announced special programs through the end of May, including the station’s annual, award-winning broadcast of the National Memorial Day concert, broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning and the celebration of arts and culture utilizing noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University Jan. 30, 1961. Now, more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems. With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station’s annual budget.

The following programs are scheduled:



9 p.m. May 16

From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (“Wounded Knee,” “Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple,” “The Murder of Emmett Till”) comes “Freedom Riders,” the powerful, harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever.

From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives — and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment — for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders’ belief in non-violent activism was sorely tested as mob violence and bitter racism greeted them along the way.

“Freedom Riders” features testimony from a cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the rides firsthand. Produced, written and directed by Nelson, “Freedom Riders” premieres on American Experience at 9 p.m. May 16 on Eight, Arizona PBS.

Despite two earlier Supreme Court decisions that mandated the desegregation of interstate travel facilities, black Americans in 1961 continued to endure hostility and racism while traveling through the South. The newly inaugurated Kennedy administration, embroiled in the Cold War and worried about the nuclear threat, did little to address domestic civil rights.

“It became clear that the civil rights leaders had to do something desperate, something dramatic to get Kennedy’s attention. That was the idea behind the Freedom Rides — to dare the federal government to do what it was supposed to do, and see if their constitutional rights would be protected by the Kennedy administration,” said Raymond Arsenault, author of “Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” on which the film is partially based.

The self-proclaimed “Freedom Riders” came from all strata of American society — black and white, young and old, male and female, northern and southern. They embarked on the rides knowing the danger but firmly committed to the ideals of non-violent protest, aware that their actions could provoke a savage response but willing to put their lives on the line for the cause of justice.

“The lesson of the Freedom Rides is that great change can come from a few small steps taken by courageous people,” Nelson said. “And that sometimes to do any great thing, it’s important that we step out alone.”

“‘Freedom Riders’ tells the story of an overlooked piece of not only civil rights history but American history,” said Mark Samels, executive producer of American Experience. “It’s a story that we knew had to be told. The film touches and inspires everyone who sees it, and it’s an honor to be presenting it.”


7:30 p.m. May 17

Arizona Technology and Innovation is an ongoing series of specials and companion website, at www.azpbs.org/technology, showcasing the people, ideas, businesses and technologies that are shaping Arizona’s future. What discoveries are being made today that will impact lives for generations? The latest edition of Arizona Technology and Innovation airs 7:30 p.m. May 17 on Eight.

Featured stories include:

• EV Mobile Charging, a Phoenix-based company, is offering a service to rescue stranded drivers of electric vehicles. Eric Edberg, one of the co-founders of the company, talks about his new business.

• Several Arizona high school students were recently given the Future Innovators award during the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation. Learn about the teens’ research.

• A Phoenix firm has invented a new tool for law enforcement to stop people fleeing in vehicles. The Safe Quick Undercarriage Immobilization Device, or SQUID, is a self-propelled device that police can use to stop a car by entangling its moving parts underneath the vehicle. Martin Martinez, president of Engineering Science Analysis Corporation, will talk about his company’s invention.

The companion website — www.azpbs.org/technology — includes a complete archive of video with all current and previous stories. Visitors are invited to submit their topic ideas.


10 p.m. May 18

“The Storm that Swept Mexico” is a new two-hour special that tells the epic story of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the first major political and social revolution of the 20th century.

Fueled by the Mexican people’s growing dissatisfaction with an elitist ruling regime, the revolution produced two of the most intriguing and mythic figures in 20th century history — Emiliano Zapata and Francisco “Pancho” Villa. At stake was Mexico’s ability to claim its own natural resources, establish long-term democracy and re-define its identity. The legacy of the revolution included a new commitment to national education, as well as an explosion of indigenous arts, music, literature and cinema.

Capturing the color, drama, intrigue and tragedy of the era, “The Storm that Swept Mexico” also explores how the Mexican Revolution not only changed the course of Mexican history, transforming economic and political power within the nation, but also profoundly impacted the relationships between Mexico, the U.S. and the rest of the world.  

Narrated by actor and playwright Luis Valdez, directed by Raymond Telles and written and produced by Telles and archivist Kenn Rabin, “The Storm that Swept Mexico” airs on at 10 p.m. May 18 on Eight, Arizona PBS.

The Mexican Revolution was the first major revolution to be filmed. “The Storm that Swept Mexico” incorporates photographs and motion pictures from these earliest days of cinema, many of which have never before been seen outside of Mexico.

“The Storm that Swept Mexico” unfolds in two parts. The first hour charts the struggle by Francisco I. Madero and his followers to end the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, and traces the emergence of two rebel leaders: Emiliano Zapata and Francisco “Pancho” Villa. The second hour examines international influence on the revolution, investigating the extraordinary German plan to seek Mexico’s support against the United States should it enter World War I. The second hour also explores how the Mexican Revolution fostered cultural and political transformation. Beginning in the 1920s, and continuing through and beyond the 1940s, Mexican artists burst onto the international stage, and Mexico City became the nexus of an indigenous and muralist art movement. Against this flourishing cultural backdrop, the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas in many ways fulfills the political promises of the revolution. But after Cárdenas’s administration, politics regress and in 1968, shortly before Mexico City is to host the Olympics, a new type of revolution explodes.

The dramatic story of the revolution is told through interviews with a wide range of distinguished scholars from the disciplines of history, economics, literature, political science, women’s studies and art history, as well as several veterans of the revolution, who were each older than 100 at the time of filming.



7:30 p.m. May 24

Eight has long been an advocate and champion for Arizona’s arts community. Arizona Artbeat, the ongoing series and companion website, further strengthens that commitment. The 30-minute special profiles the individuals and organizations that are shaping the state’s cultural scene with honest and provocative interviews with the artists themselves. Online visitors can tap into creative communities locally and nationally, and gain access to a growing compilation of videos produced by Eight and the city of Phoenix.

The latest edition of ArtBeat at 7:30 p.m. May 24 on Eight, featuring:

• The fine art jewelry of Navajo/Hopi jeweler Jesse Monongye.

• Ear Candy Charity: When schools are short on funding, arts education is often the first to get cut, but Ear Candy Charity is doing what it can to ensure that Arizona’s youth have access to a music education.  Nate Anderson discusses the work of this Phoenix non-profit he founded and how it is making a difference.

• Free Arts of Arizona: A nonprofit organization that uses art to help abused, neglected and homeless children.

The companion website at www.azpbs.org/artbeat includes all Eight video, as well as:

• PBS Arts, an online exhibition celebrating the works of artists, writers and musicians from across the country.

• Arizona Artforms, produced in 1989 and 1990, Eight’s own video portraits series follows artists through the entire creative process. The project includes detailed lesson plans for the classroom.

• Inside Creative Minds, the 30-minute TV show from the city of Phoenix connects viewers to the state’s growing and spirited culture.

• Cool in Your Zip’s John Davronja Dossie and Tray Goodman track down fascinating art projects throughout the city of Phoenix.

Visitors to the website are encouraged to submit topic ideas for future editions of Arizona ArtBeat.


8 p.m. May 29

For more than two decades, PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert has led the nation in honoring the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all those who have given their lives for our country.  

The multi-award-winning event will be co-hosted for the sixth year by Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise (“CSI: New York”) and Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna (“Criminal Minds”), two actors who have dedicated themselves to veterans’ causes and supporting the troops in active service.  

The all-star line-up of dignitaries, actors and musical artists joining Sinise and Mantegna for the 22nd annual broadcast includes: distinguished American leader Colin L. Powell; “American Idol” winner Kris Allen; Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress Dianne Wiest; king of the blues B.B. King; classical superstar Hayley Westenra; and tenor Daniel Rodriguez, the New York city policeman who united the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They will perform with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly (additional talent to be announced).  

Consistently one of the highest rated programs on PBS over the past decade, the National Memorial Day Concert became the No. 4-rated program in primetime and the No. 2-rated musical performance special on PBS for the 2009-2010 season. The event, broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, will air live in HD on Eight, Arizona PBS at 8 p.m. May 29 before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network.  

The 2011 event will include:

• The first national welcome home to troops who have been serving in Iraq.

•  The story of a woman who lost her father in Vietnam and how her experiences are helping a new generation of children who have suffered the same loss after their parents served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

•  A 10-year commemoration of Sept. 11.

•  A tribute to World War II veterans 70 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff will participate in the event along with the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, U.S. Army Chorus, Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, U.S. Navy Sea Chanters, U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.   



9 p.m. May 31

On Thursday, Carnegie Hall commemorated its 120th anniversary with an all-star gala concert featuring conductor Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic and special guests pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Gil Shaham and four-time Tony Award-winning singer and actress Audra McDonald.

“Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert” — featuring the works of Ludwig von Beethoven, Duke Ellington, Antonin Dvořák, and George Gershwin — will air as part of Great Performances at 9 p.m. May 31 on Eight, Arizona PBS.

The eclectic program is set to include Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto in C major, Op. 56,” performed by Ax, Ma and Shaham, a selection of Duke Ellington songs including “Solitude,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “On a Turquoise Cloud” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing,” performed by McDonald and full performances of Antonin Dvořák’s “Carnival Overture” and George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

Dvořák conducted his “Carnival Overture” with the Boston Symphony at Carnegie Hall when he came to New York to assume his post as director of the National Conservatory of Music Oct. 21, 1892.

Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and conducted by Walter Damrosch in the New York premiere Dec. 13, 1928, at Carnegie Hall. The concert hall was the home base of the New York Philharmonic until the orchestra moved to its current location at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in 1962.

Ellington played his first historic Carnegie Hall concert Jan. 23, 1943, beginning a series of concerts there of his long-form works.

In the late 1800s, New York City was emerging as an international capital, and composers were flourishing in the classical world. In 1891, Carnegie Hall, founded by industrialist and entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie, opened its doors as “Music Hall” on May 5, 1891, with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducting. It was renamed “Carnegie Hall” in 1893 when Carnegie allowed the use of his name. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.

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