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WQED TV producer and PITTSBURGH Magazine back-page writer writes about his current work and assorted other things.

A new weekly program? Yowza.

September 10th, 2010 · 12 Comments

Yes.  WQED has decided I will try my hand at producing a weekly program.   I’m calling it IT’S PITTSBURGH & A LOT OF OTHER STUFF, and I’m still trying to figure out what it is and how we’ll get it done.

My friend and in-house designer Paula Zetter created the logo and an animated title for us to play with.  Having a logo makes it feel like a real project.   The Post-Gazette has mentioned the show already, and the always perceptive Rob Owen wrote about it in his blog, and he and I have similar hopes and worries about my new programs.

It’ll be on Wednesday nights at 7:30 with various repeats after that.  It premieres November 3.  We’re planning for 13 half-hours in the first “season.”  A lot of work.  It will be a sort of magazine format (which basically means we can include unrelated stories in each program) and I’ve already started gathering material for new stories.

First I took cameraman Frank Caloiero with me to the Cheeseburger In Paradise competition over at the Waterfront in Homestead.  It’s an annual event put  together by my buddies Theresa Colaizzi and Jim Merkel over at radio station WWSW (they act modern and say “3WS”) and they have graciously invited me to be one of the judges for many years (I’m not sure how many: 7? 8?  Could we be doing this for 10 years?) and I can’t say no when they ask.

The competition is open to all listeners, and it’s simple to enter:  you sign up, you come and make some of your best cheeseburgers, a panel of excellent judges (including our beloved WQED COOKS’ cook Chris Fennimore, as well as KDKA-TV2’s Jim Lokay and Clear Channel’s Greg McAtee and myself) determines which burger is Best (based on various criteria) and the best burger-maker wins tickets to the upcoming Jimmy Buffet concert as well as assorted other goodies.

Judging a hamburger competition is harder than one might expect.  (I don’t want anyone trying to take my job.)   And we want to really pick the best while having a really good time too.

So I did what I usually do, schmoozed and walked around, talked to the contestants, then sat down with my fellow judges, and we tasted the burgers.  Some were amazing.  All four judges picked the same winner.  A unanimous decision.

Then, several days later and still thinking about the new show, I got a call from a young woman (Michelle) who’s re-doing an old bar down on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, and she and her husband (Kevin) wanted me to see this big old “beer cooler” that came with the place.  It’s a big old refrigerator in the shape of an old beer bottle.  And they thought I might be interested.

I had to go and check it out.  I loved it.  I arranged to go back and took Frank the cameraman with me.  We did some interviews.  We took pictures of the beautiful old thing.  It’s called a Bevador.

People love it.  Made in Buffalo in the 1950s, maybe earlier.   A refrigerator’s refrigerator!  Worth going down to check out.  The bar used to be Bill’s Tavern, now it’s called Eclipse (but the Bill’s sign may still be up outside!)  3705 Butler Steet.

That same day, we drove into Garfield and started to shoot a story about A New Design for Martini Glasses in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Glass Center and Boyd and Blair Vodka.

Again I was a judge, and we looked over design drawings and proposals from various groups and individuals around the world.  We had vodka martinis too.

And all along the way, as we were shooting all these other stories, cameraman Frank Caloiero and I decided to make something out of our ongoing personal battle of one-upsmanship in a good natured battle to determine which is better:  North Park or South Park.  Frank lives in McCandless and loves the northern option.  I grew up about a half mile from the main entrance to South Park and I think it’s pretty great. North Park does have a cool old Observation Tower that’s closed to the public now, but  South Park still has buffalo.  ‘Nuff  said?

And I’ve also shot a story with Bob Lubomski about the terra cotta statues that are in the Pittsburgh Parking Authority Garage Building on the Boulevard of the Allies downtown across from Point Park University.  I saw them in a Post-Gazette story back in July, and I really liked them.  They were made and installed in 1985 by Pittsburgh sculptor Jerry Caplan (1922-2004) who called them “Pittsburgh People.”

They are treasures in a passageway between the Boulevard and First Avenue.   And they will be a story too in the new show.

And we’re looking for underwriting to cover the costs of all this.  If you have any ideas for stories or potential underwriters, that’s what the Comments b0x below is for.   This could be fun.

Tags: "It's Pittsburgh & A Lot Of Other Stuff"

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 paulm // Sep 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    This will also be a great place to show stuff that you couldn’t fit into some of your documentaries. Can’t wait to see it. Good Luck.

  • 2 Melanie Patterson // Sep 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Finding a ‘niche’ and filling it — is what I seem to do best. Remember my first niche; the creation of a Disposable Bib Category with my patented, manufactured in Uniontown, “PIBS-The Disposable Bib on a Roll”. I launched the new product here in Giant Eagle stores in May of 2000. That was then….this is now. I have a found a niche in the travel industry that isn’t there….its a private vacation house rental that allows you to actually experience a blast to the past with family & friends during your stay. Relive decades of America’s past in a 1950s kitchen, Rumpus room fool of pinball machines, Italian basement kitchen, Knotty Pine Bar…..and I could go on and on. I am putting the finishing touches on a Vintage Retro Cottage in the back yard that used to be my Aunt’s Beauty Shop and Tool Shed. That has been an amazing transformation — and even included her Beauty Shop Chair, and the Shampoo Sink in the decor. You gotta see it! I’d be happy to give you a tour — complete with mini-cheeseburgers & rootbeer floats. Thanks for letting me share my story — south of the ‘burgh’ in Belle Vernon.

  • 3 pk // Sep 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    with food trucks being the hot item now all over the US, i know of a great one at pymatuning lake and surrounding area: P.K.’s PORKPIT. a bbq catering truck. people in the area claim it’s the best! thought you would like to know for the new show. good luck with all the stories and continued success. pk

  • 4 James Orlowski // Sep 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I’m sure you’ll have great stories and I look forward to watching. If you need any generic Pittsburgh shots, I have a slew on iStock… http://bit.ly/11wBMF

  • 5 Michael Caligiuri // Sep 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    In your specials you mostly deal with places but how about stories about some of the clubs and groups in the area? The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh is one group you could do a story on. They’ve been around since 1929 and own two observatories and hold star parties open to the general public.

  • 6 Patrick Rieger // Oct 1, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Hi Rick! I have a number of ideas to suggest. How about a story on the bellydance culture in Pittsburgh? I’ve lived here all my life (except a couple years for grad school) and learned only in the last 2 years how big bellydancing is in this town. Classes and shows happen nearly everyday. There are a number of troupes as well as individual dancers. There is also a theater company called Moquette Volante, based in Highland Park, that uses this type of dance to tell stories from Middle Eastern folklore. – Patrick

  • 7 Beth B // Oct 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Have you thought about covering the plan for the SkyBus that never came to be but was showcased in South Park? I always check out the station that is enclosed in the South Park dog park and think that it looks pretty eerie with its floating platform and turnstiles.

  • 8 Justin // Oct 31, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    After having seen every single documentary you have made, I look greatly forward to this show! Rick you are the best!

  • 9 dan devic // Nov 3, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    rick i do heating air conditioning work all around the city and many of the places i run into–and sometimes out off (haha)–it’s amazing all the little shops and places around the pittsburgh area (many times i call our office girls tell them yep, had another rick sebak moment–ranging from neat little print shops to folks with westview park stuff in their basement to church steeples with ac units on top of the towers (i declined that job–those wooden ladders were bad shape!) good stuff you always provide

  • 10 Nancy H. // Nov 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Rick and All, I really admire your work! I’d like to see a feature about all the new art that is popping up around Connellsville. At the northern side of the bike trail is a beautiful stained-glass archway cyclists must pass through, and on the southern side, Yough Glass has three whimsical, colorfully-painted, supply towers along their building that depict the seasons. The painting continues down off the tower, and follows the iron supports onto ground level. In town, a new owner has painted thought-provoking shadow art of an 1800’s horse-pulled wagon with a family next to it, and on the opposite side of the building are panels of mural art featuring the bike trail, and a flowery “Welcome to Connellsville” painting, plus more to come. We have several restored, amazing huge Victorian homes here in town that I think are up to par with Linden Hall—unsung treasures! More art by the Amtrak stop, one block north on Arch Street is the Molinaro Building with its incredible murals of our area’s rich history. Connellsville Cultural Club also puts out a world-class quarterly magazine with incredible photography and excellent current and historical articles about the area. It’s called ‘Connellsville Crossroads’. One feature was a period- restored auditorium in what was, 100 years ago, the High School building! It could complete with the Carnegie Theaters built in many his libraries at the turn of the former century! Hope you feature the new art and culture that is sprucing up Connellsville! Good Luck, can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • 11 Mitch Raney // Dec 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I’d like to see a show on the re-use of all the old movie theaters in Pittsburgh.

    I hope you would consider doing a Documentary on the Drive-In Theaters in Pennsylvania starting with the Shankweiler’s Drive-In, the oldest operating drive in, located in Orefield, PA!

  • 12 Rick // Feb 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    MITCH Hmm. Two good ideas. Orefield is too far afield for our local show, but I will definitely keep both these ideas in my files. You never know when they’ll come in handy. Thanks.

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