About On the Record

About Rick Steves

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Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of over 50 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of U.S. markets. Rick has also created two award-winning specials for public television: Rick Steves' European Christmas and the ground-breaking Rick Steves' Iran. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his company, Back Door Productions.

Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel experts, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country and has spawned a popular podcast. Rick has also created a series of audio walking tours for museums and neighborhoods in Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, London and Athens.

Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 50 other country, city and regional guidebooks, phrase books, and "snapshot" guides. For several years, Rick Steves' Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the U.S.

In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

In addition to his guidebooks, TV and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel. He is also an active blogger on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. By the time he reached 18, Rick jokes, "I realized I didn't need my parents to travel!" He began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started Europe Through the Back Door (ETBD), a business which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 80 full-time employees.

ETBD offers free travel information through its travel center, website (www.ricksteves.com), European Railpass Guide, and free travel newsletters. ETBD also runs a successful European tour program — attracting around 16,000 travelers — annually.

Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening their perspectives through travel. He is also committed to his own neighborhood. He's an active member of the Lutheran church (and has hosted the ELCA's national video productions). He's a board member of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). And Rick has provided his local YWCA with a 24-unit apartment building with which to house homeless mothers.

Rick Steves spends about a third of every year in Europe, researching guidebooks, filming TV shows, and making new discoveries for travelers. Rick was divorced in March, 2010. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school. 

About Bob Dotson

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Bob Dotson is NBC News national correspondent for the TODAY show.  His "American Story with Bob Dotson" is a regular feature of the TODAY show and other NBC News programs.  He is author of American Story and Make It Memorable.  Dotson's NBC biography can be found here:

Bob Dotson, NBC TODAY show

About Judy Woodruff

Judy Woodruff, Co-Anchor & Managing Editor, PBS NewsHour

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Broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff is the Co-Anchor and Managing Editor of the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. She has covered politics and other news for more than three decades at CNN, NBC and PBS.

 For 12 years, Woodruff served as anchor and senior correspondent for CNN, where her duties included anchoring the weekday program, "Inside Politics." At PBS from 1983 to 1993, she was the chief Washington correspondent for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. From 1984-1990, she also anchored PBS' award-winning weekly documentary series, "Frontline with Judy Woodruff."

In 2011, Woodruff was the principal reporter for the PBS documentary "Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime." And in 2007, she completed an extensive project on the views of young Americans called "Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard." Two hour-long documentaries aired on PBS, along with a series of reports on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR and in USA Today.

In addition, she anchors a monthly program for Bloomberg Television, "Conversations with Judy Woodruff." In 2006, Judy was a visiting professor at Duke University's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. In 2005, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

At NBC News, Woodruff was White House correspondent from 1977 to 1982. For one year after that she served as NBC's Today Show Chief Washington Correspondent. She wrote the book, "This is Judy Woodruff at the White House," published in 1982 by Addison-Wesley.

Woodruff is a founding co-chair of the International Women's Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in communication industries worldwide. She serves on the boards of trustee of the Freedom Forum, the Newseum, the Duke Endowment and the Urban Institute. She also serves as a member of The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Judy is a graduate of Duke University, where she is a trustee emerita.

She is the recent recipient of the Cine Lifetime Achievement award, a Duke Distinguished Alumni award, the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television, the University of Southern California Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Al Neuharth/University of South Dakota Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Oklahoma, among others.

She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, journalist Al Hunt, and they are the parents of three children: Jeffrey, Benjamin and Lauren.

About Brian Lamb

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(Biography provided by Purdue University, 1/6/10)

Brian Lamb is the CEO of C-SPAN Networks. He's been at the helm of the public affairs channel since he helped the cable industry launch it 32 years ago on March 19, 1979.

Today, C-SPAN employs approximately 270 people and delivers public affairs programming on three television channels to the nation's cable and satellite customers; globally to Internet users via C-SPAN.org and 15 other internet sites; and to radio listeners through C-SPAN radio—an FM station in Washington that can also be heard on XM satellite service nationwide.

Brian has also been a regular on-air presence at C-SPAN since the network's earliest days. Over the years, he has interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush and many world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. For 15 years, beginning in 1989, he interviewed 800 non-fiction authors for a weekly program known as Booknotes. Four books of collected interviews have been published based on the Booknotes series.

Currently, Brian hosts Q and A, an hour long interview program on Sunday evening with people who are making things happen in politics, media, education or technology.

Brian Lamb is a Hoosier, born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana. Interested in broadcasting as a child, he built crystal radio sets to pick up local signals. During high school and college, he sought out jobs at Lafayette radio and television stations, spinning records, selling ads, and eventually hosting his own television program.

After graduating from Purdue with a degree in speech, Brian joined the Navy. His tour included the USS Thuban, White House duty during the Johnson Administration and a stint in the Pentagon public affairs office during the Vietnam War. In 1967, his navy service complete, Brian returned home to Lafayette.

However, it wasn't long before he returned to the nation's capital where he began as a freelance reporter for UPI radio. Later, he served as a Senate press secretary and worked for the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy at a time when a national strategy was being developed for communications satellites.

In 1974, Brian returned to journalism, publishing a biweekly newsletter called The Media Report. He also covered telecommunications issues as Washington bureau chief for Cablevision Magazine. It was from this vantage point that C-SPAN began to take shape. Congress was about to televise its proceedings; the cable industry was looking for programming to deliver to its customers by satellite.

Brian brought these two ideas together with C-SPAN, which launched with the first televised House of Representatives debate on March 19, 1979. Brian and his wife Victoria are longtime residents of Arlington, Virginia. When he's not reading
newspapers or non-fiction books, Brian is often in hot pursuit of the latest country music release.

(Brian Lamb received the Gaylord Prize from the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication on Nov. 8, 2011. He retired as CEO of C-SPAN in 2012 after 33 years in the position. He was featured in OETA's production of Brian Lamb On the Record on March 21, 2013.)

About Ken Burns

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Ken Burns has been making films for more than thirty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made.

A December 2002 poll conducted by Real Screen Magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North as the "most influential documentary of all time," and named Ken Burns and Robert Flaherty as the "most influential documentary makers" of all time. In March, 2009, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun said, "... Burns is not only the greatest documentarian of the day, but also the most influential filmmaker period. That includes feature filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of his films, "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source." Ken's films have won twelve Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations, and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ken has been the recipient of more than twenty-five honorary degrees and has delivered many treasured commencement addresses. He is a sought after public speaker, appearing at colleges, civic organizations and business groups throughout the country.

In November, 2012, Burns debuted his documentary on The Dust Bowl, a two-part series about the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. Future projects include films on the Central Park Jogger case, the Roosevelts, Jackie Robinson, the Vietnam War and Country Music.

In October of 2011 PBS broadcast Prohibition, a 3-part, 5 ½-hour series directed by Ken and Lynn Novick. The film tells the story of the rise, rule and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed, a compelling saga that goes far beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, rum runners, flappers and speakeasies, revealing a complicated and divided nation in the throes of momentous transformation. Prohibition raises vital questions that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago - about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government, and, finally, who is - and who is not - a real American.

An update to the 1994 epic Baseball, The Tenth Inning was co-directed by Ken and Lynn Novick. David McMahon, Lynn Novick and Ken wrote and produced the film, which aired on PBS in September 2010. This two-part, four-hour documentary highlights the many dramatic developments that transformed the game: the crippling 1994 strike, the increasing dominance of Latin and Asian players; the rise of a new Yankee Dynasty, the historic World Series victory by the Red Sox, and the revelations about performance-enhancing drugs, a reality that cast a pall on some of the greatest stars of the game.

In the fall of 2009, PBS broadcast The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Directed and co-produced by Ken, it was co-produced by his long-time collaborator Dayton Duncan.

The six-part series focuses on the ideas and individuals that helped propel the parks into existence. Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales – from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska – the heart of the story is nonetheless a story of people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.

The film won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming, as well as the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award.

 In September 2007, PBS broadcast The War, which Ken co-produced and co-directed with long-time colleague, Lynn Novick. This seven-part film tells the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of nearly 40 men and women from four quintessentially American towns. The series explores the most intimate human dimensions of the greatest cataclysm in history -- a worldwide catastrophe that touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in America.

The War was named an official selection at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and won three Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming, and Outstanding Voice-over Performance (for narrator Keith David).

Robert Bianco of USA Today said, "There are works of TV art so extraordinary all you can do is be grateful. With The War, gratitude abounds." Keith Olbermann of NBC/MSNBC said, "This is the finest documentary series of the last decade... if not more," and Adam Buckman of the New York Post has said "I have spent the better part of my adult life watching TV for a living, and I have never experienced anything more powerful than this."

In January of 2005, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, a two-part film on the life of the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion, aired on PBS.

It was produced with Ken's long-time collaborator and editor Paul Barnes, and had its premiere at the 2004 Telluride Film Festival. This film won three Emmy Awards: Outstanding Nonfiction Special, Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction, and Outstanding Voice-over Performance (for narrator Keith David). Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "...irresistibly engrossing...masterly... a knockout..."; while The New York Times described it as "monumental...gripping." Ring Magazine, "the bible of boxing," said Unforgivable Blackness is "...the most wildly entertaining documentary ever."

Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip, an account of the first cross-country trip by automobile, was co-produced with Ken's long-time colleague Dayton Duncan. This film aired on PBS in October of 2003, and was screened that same year at the Telluride Film Festival.

The film earned the 2003 CINE Golden Eagle Award and, in 2004, the Christopher Award. David Bianculli of the New York Daily News said, "This is one drive on which no passenger will be asking impatiently, 'Are we there yet?' The journey, in this case, is the destination." Mark Sachs of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The detail work by Burns and Duncan offers such an authentic-feeling trip back in time that it's as if viewers have a backseat perch as Jackson puts his cherry-red Winton touring car in gear and heads east."

Mark Twain, a two-part, four-hour portrait of America's funniest and most popular writer, was also co-produced with Dayton Duncan. Winner of the Leon Award for Best Documentary at the St. Louis Film Festival in 2001, the film aired on PBS in January 2002. Ken Ringle of The Washington Post wrote, "Mark Twain is not only fascinating, funny, inspiring and wise, it's one of the best primers on American literature and culture you could have."

In January 2001, Jazz, the third in Ken's trilogy of epic documentaries, which began with The Civil War and continued with Baseball, was broadcast on PBS. Co-produced with Lynn Novick, this 19-hour, ten-part film explores in detail the culture, politics and dreams that gave birth to jazz music, and follows this most American of art forms from its origins in blues and ragtime through swing, bebop and fusion.

Jack Newfield of the New York Post said, "Jazz is the best American documentary film I have ever seen. Period." Tom Brokaw wrote, "Jazz is a masterpiece of American television." John Carmen of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Jazz informs, astonishes, and entertains. It invites joy, tears, toe-tapping, pride, and shame and maybe an occasional goose bump."

Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, winner of the prestigious Peabody Award and an Emmy Award, was co-produced with Paul Barnes and aired on PBS in November of 1999. This dual biography tells the story of the two women who almost single-handedly created and spearheaded the women's rights movement in America, changing for the better the lives of a majority of American citizens.

As Bob Herbert of The New York Times stated: "The latest splendid effort from...Ken Burns is about two women who barely register in the consciousness of late-20th century America, but whose lives were critically important to the freedoms most of us take for granted." The 2000 Peabody Award citation for NFOA reads: "Remarkable...It is an inspiring story of hopes, dashed dreams and dogged determination...NFOA...brings heart, soul and considerable poignancy to the stories of these two leaders of the women's suffrage movement."

Frank Lloyd Wright, co-directed and produced with Lynn Novick, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1998, and aired on PBS in November of that year. The film, which tells the riveting story of America's foremost architectural genius, is, according to Janet Maslin of The New York Times, a "towering two-and-one-half-hour(s)...sure to have a high profile because of the turbulent, colorful life of the architect and the austere magnificence of his work, which is thoughtfully assessed." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times says the film "...has the unbeatable combination of exceptional interview material and beautiful architectural photography put at the service of an astonishing life." In 1999, it won the Peabody Award.

In November 1997, Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery was released to critical acclaim and garnered the second-highest ratings in Public Television history. This four-hour film, co-produced with Dayton Duncan, chronicles the corps' journey westward on the first official expedition into uncharted spaces in United States history.

Tony Scott of Weekly Variety called the film "...a visually stunning account...Striking photography, superb editing, informative reportage and little-known anecdotes characterize the latest fine documentary work from Burns," and Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "...superb...a vast landscape that, even on the television screen, underscores the sense of awe reported by Lewis and Clark in their journals."

Thomas Jefferson,a three-hourportrait of our third president, aired in February of 1997. This film explores the contradictions in the man who was revered as the author of the most sacred document in American history and condemned as a lifelong owner of slaves. Walter Goodman of The New York Times said: "...Thomas Jefferson is a considerable accomplishment, a thoughtful and affecting portrait of the intellectual who captured the essence of a new nation's hopes in phrases that continue to resound around the world." And George Will, in The Washington Post, said: "...Ken Burns presents a timely corrective, a visually sumptuous and intellectually judicious appraisal of Jefferson."

In the fall of 1996, The West, an eight-part, 12 1/2 hour film series on the American west was released. The West is the story of one of the great crossroads in human history, a place where, tragically and heroically, the best of us met the worst of us and nothing was left unchanged. Ken Burns was executive producer and creative consultant for this highly praised series, directed by Stephen Ives, which won the 1997 Erik Barnouw Prize.

Ken Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the Public Television series Baseball. Four and a half years in the making and eighteen and a half hours in length, this film covers the history of baseball from the 1840s to the present. Through the extensive use of archival photographs and newsreel footage, baseball as a mirror of our larger society was brought to the screen over nine nights during its premiere in September 1994. It became the most watched series in PBS history, attracting more than 45 million viewers.

David Bianculli of the New York Daily News said, "[Baseball]...resonates like a Mozart symphony." Richard Zoglin of Time magazine wrote, "Baseball is rich in drama, irresistible as nostalgia, and...an instructive window into our national psychology." Baseball received numerous awards, including an Emmy, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Clarion Award, and the Television Critics Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sports and Special Programming.

Ken Burns was also the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the landmark television series The Civil War. This film was the highest rated series in the history of American Public Television and attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990.

The New York Times called it a masterpiece and said that Ken Burns "takes his place as the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation." Tom Shales of The Washington Post said, "This is not just good television, nor even just great television. This is heroic television." The columnist George Will said, "If better use has ever been made of television, I have not seen it and do not expect to see better until Ken Burns turns his prodigious talents to his next project."

The series has been honored with more than forty major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, Producer of the Year Award from the Producer's Guild, People's Choice Award, Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, D.W. Griffith Award, and the $50,000 Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.

In 1981, Ken Burns produced and directed his first film for PBS, the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge. During the 1980s he made several other award-winning films, including The Shakers; Statue of Liberty, also nominated for an Oscar; Huey Long, the story of the turbulent southern dictator, which enjoyed a rare theatrical release; The Congress; Thomas Hart Benton, a portrait of the regionalist artist; and Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. Ken Burns has also produced and directed three films - William Segal, Vézelay, and In The Marketplace - which explore the questions of seeing, searching and being through the work and teachings of philosopher and painter William Segal.

Ken was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1975 and went on to be one of the co-founders of Florentine Films.