Rick Sebak’s Blog header image 3

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

Rick Sebak & this blog

I make TV programs in Pittsburgh at the public television station WQED.   I have made a couple dozen documentaries about Pittsburgh and its unexpected charms.   I also have made about one dozen documentaries for PBS about various aspects of American culture.

This blog is just a place to share some of the details of putting a documentary together.  There is an older blog of mine about putting together my PBS program called A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY.  You can find that blog here.

42 Comments

42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Larry Cultrera // Jun 29, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Rick, great blog! I’m going to put a link on my blog to this one!

  • 2 Andrea Kennedy // Jul 16, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Rick,
    I wanted to suggest that you consider doing one of your great Pittsburgh documentaries on a new subject–”Pittsburgh Alleys”. My husband and many of his friends practically grew up playing full baseball games, football, etc. along with a variety of other activities in the many alleys of the East End area. We have so many interesting stories about the many activities that occurrred in the many different alleys of the Pittsburgh areas.

  • 3 Joyce Campbell // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:00 am

    On Aug.20th, Rick Sebak aired a show about towns along the river (e.g. Verona, Oakmont, Springdale, etc.) Could you please tell me if and when it will reair. I am from that area and would love to see it. Thank You.

  • 4 rick // Sep 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    JOYCE I’m not sure about a re-airing yet, but I’ll try to send an email when I find out anything for certain. Thanks for asking. RICK

  • 5 Pat Wilson // Jan 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    A short while ago my mother was relating a story of walking to school and having broken glass rain down on her (1927 gas tank explosion). I then found a video that you did with a man who experienced the explosion. I would love to show her the video but the web link I had found no longer works. Is there another link or some way to acquire the video of that interview? I appreciate whatever help you can provide.

  • 6 Emily Martinez // May 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Rick- Nice blog! I’m excited about this Breakfast Special, it looks awesome! Always great work!

  • 7 Heidi // Jun 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

    As part of the Pittsburgh History Series, I propose a story about Calbraith P. Rodgers, the first to fly across the United States in 1911, especially since the 100th year anniversary of this feat is coming up. Rodgers was from Pittsburgh and is buried in Allegheny County cemetery. There is an engraving of his plane on his grave marker.

  • 8 Heather Charron // Jun 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hello Rick,
    I am so excited about your new breakfast special! Breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day & I could eat it all day… Recently you went to one of my favorites – Gab & Eat, I read about it in Pgh Magazine. I wanted to tell you of a friend who had a restaurant on Washington Rd. in Mt. Lebanon called The Terrace Grill. He moved last month & opened a new restaurant for (breakfast and lunch only) on Washington Pike (rt. 50) called Papa Gallo. His name is Len Spampanato & his food is great. Just a suggestion for a place to try for your special!

  • 9 Rick // Jul 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

    HEIDI

    I love the story of Calbraith Perry Rodgers and his flight. And I would love to do something longer about him. His tombstone is actually in my PBS show called A CEMETERY SPECIAL. We do a story about Allegheny Cemetery (it’s not a county cemetery but one of the great American burial places) and I included his marker because I talk about him all the time. He and his plane are also on the model train layout at the Carnegie Science Center. Ever seen that?

  • 10 Rick // Jul 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

    HEATHER

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll try Papa Gallo first chance I get.

  • 11 Tim Louis // Jul 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Rick:

    What happened to the piece on the Wentworth by the Sea?? I was so anticipating it for perhaps obvious reasons. is it going to be in a later edition of Breakfast Specials?? Too bad if it hit the cutting room floor.. tks

  • 12 Rick // Jul 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    TIM: I should have had a post ready about my problem with this program: I shot too much. I split the stories into 2 programs. In BREAKFAST SPECIAL, there were 8 breakfast places, I have 9 more for part 2. We’re working on it! Not sure when it will air. Thanks for caring.

  • 13 Stacie // Jul 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    I happened to catch a part of Breakfast Special on PBS. I loved the show. The montage at the end was especially poignant. It is exciting watching people share their memory and watch as their face lights up Thanks for the show.

  • 14 Rick // Jul 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    STACIE It’s weird. That segment where people remember their favorite breakfasts is part of a new PBS regulation where you have to “containerize” segments at the end of the show. I wasn’t sure what we’d do, but that section with the memories did turn out great. It makes me remember this quote from Nabokov (and I’m quoting from memory — I haven’t looked it up): “How small is the universe — it could fit in a kangaroo’s pouch — when compared with one human memory and its expression in words.”

  • 15 Martini Glass Winner to Be Announced! « story of design // Oct 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    [...] and the Pittsburgh Glass Center, make some prototype glasses.  I had a great time and got to meet Rick Sebak.  The competition will be featured on his new WQED show It’s Pittsburgh & a Lot [...]

  • 16 Lauri // Oct 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Just wondering if anyone can help me. During the last month or so I was watching a program about a woman who I think was from Pitt who had a group of people that looked/dug for artifacts in the area. I thought she was talking about a house turned into a museum that a family left. For some reason I remember Oakmont being mentioned. I thought the history was interesting and would like to know more. Any help?

  • 17 Amy Baker // Dec 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Rick,

    Hi! I worked with you when you made your Things made in Pittsburgh piece. I worked for McKesson Automation then. Do you think you’ll make another piece like that again? I’m working for another great innovative company and think we could really add something to your program if you’re thinking about a new version of that.

    If so, drop me a line. We’d really be interested.

  • 18 Rick // Feb 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    AMY I’m definitely interested for my new local show called IT’S PITTSBURGH. Let’s try to get in touch so I can know more specifics. RICK

  • 19 Heather // Jul 16, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Dear Rick,
    Thank you so much for continuing to make programs about our area. I’m from Beaver County, but Pittsburgh is still “my area” too. My favorite program is Kennywood Memories. We didn’t have much money growing up. My parents always saved enough so we could go to Kennywood once a summer. That was our vacation and we loved it. It holds a special place in my heart. I still try to get there once a year now that I’m an adult. I’m wondering if there will be an update to Kennywood memories. I can’t believe it’s been almost 25 years since that program was made. I remember those Kennywood days. (I think it was 1987, right?) A Kennywood Memories II show would definitely sell!!!
    Thanks again for the shows you do!
    Heather

  • 20 Mimi // Jul 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Dear Rick: Do you like model railroads? My husband has built the Turkey of his youth, down to the last detail, in an attic room and a railroad runs through it.
    He’s also a fabulous cook. Are you familiar with Turkish cuisine?
    Let me know.
    Thanks.

  • 21 Matt // Aug 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’d like to suggest that you do a “Ride Along the Blue Ridge Parkway” special. Please?

  • 22 Bill // Aug 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Rick:

    Have you thought about a program on the Great Allegheny Passage, a.k.a. the Pgh – DC Bicycle Trail? You seem to love publicizing things unique to the area and I can think of none other more special and appealing to all ages.
    First there is the ride itself and a pleasant form of exercise which could take an entire program, but along the way you’ve got history, unbelievable scenery, engineering, politics, economics and it all starts in Pgh.
    Did you know they are building a connector to Greater Pgh Airport so out of town riders can fly in and conveniently access the trail? It’s my understanding that many international enthusiasts are coming to experience the ride. Not even Europe has trails this long and uninterrupted with all options from camping to B & B’s available.
    I could go on for much longer about this, but if you are interested, I’ve got ideas about this show I’m more than willing to share with you.

    Bill K

  • 23 Rick // Sep 3, 2011 at 11:48 am

    MATT. I love this idea. I’d love to keep making highwayb shpws for the rest of my life. Who can I convince to let me do this? RICK

  • 24 Rick // Sep 3, 2011 at 11:51 am

    MIMI This sounds totally interesting. When can I come and take a look? RICK

  • 25 Rick // Sep 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

    MATT This is a great idea. I’d like to do highway shows for the rest of my life. How can I convince someone to let me do that? RICK

  • 26 Eric Brewer // Oct 10, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Rick,
    After looking over your site I’m please to see you doing so well. I always enjoy your stuff. Long may you run.
    I hope you remember me from the “Unusual Buildings and Other Roadside Stuff” production you made. I am having trouble finding your email address and I was wondering if you would be able to provide it to me?

  • 27 Patricia Feehan Altenhof // Oct 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Hi, Rick…. For years, I would go to WQED’s website looking to buy your tapes/dvds on the wonderful place that I still call home, but the $$$ was never really available – - then I had an Ebay brainstorm…. The first DVD that I picked up was Things that are no longer there….. My daughter came over to help me hook up my dvd player and we started the thing up…. And the first “thing” that I saw was my father – escorting a band around the oval at the Fairgrounds at South Park… If someone could have taken a photo of my daughter and I at that instant, I am sure that we had identical open-mouthed looks of amazement on our faces…. Daddy is “No longer there” – - we lost him in the early ’70′s – - so the title of the program was appropriate…. I have since accumulated an almost complete set of the DVD’s – and a few tapes which I will eventually switch over – - and I have watched them over and over and over…. I have seen people that I know – - places that are so familiar to me – - and lots of places that I have yet to explore…
    I grew up in a log cabin by the big ball field in North Park… I understand that you are doing a program on the parks… I am sorry that I didn’t have this information sooner… I have been sending my memories to the Friends of North Park group since I lived in the park from 1943 until 1964 – - my parents moved there in 1938 and I am mailing their photo albums to Northland Library to be scanned for their archives… I have photos in the collection of the park when it was a baby – - you used to be able to stand at the swimming pool bathhouse and see the lake!!!!! – - and I am sure that some of the photos would be of interest to you, as well… I have been having a blast delving into my momories – - and the deeper I go, the more I remember….
    I am one of the very few, and very fortunate people who can truly go back home and see it almost the same as it was when I grew up there…. I make a ‘pilgrimage’ to my old stomping grounds, every chance I get…. Until then, I will live vicariously through your wonderful programs…. Keep up the great work….
    BTW, I understand that you favor South Park – - I have wonderful memories of the County Fairs, and I did spend a lot of time there, as well…. But, North Park is way better…. Tee hee…

  • 28 Rick // Dec 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    PATRICIA

    Have you watched our special called NORTH PARK VS SOUTH PARK? You can watch it on-line here: http://www.wqed.org/tv/its-pittsburgh/index.php?id=295

  • 29 Patricia Feehan Altenhof // Dec 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I have watched it – - – in fact, I am ordering a copy today from WQED…. A fantastic program…. I was surprised at how much I know about South Park – - I remember the wading pools by Stone Manse… I remember the South Park pool when it had the rocks around the edge and occasionally, I became a test ‘dummy’ on the monorail when I would go out to visit my dad when he was working there… I did find my dad in the NP?SP show – - he is directing Fair traffic and he is seen at 25:50…… I recognized his knock knees right away….
    I love your program/s and will continue to watch them whenever I can… Thanks, Rick, for taking this ex-patriot (that’s hard to type when you are a Steelers fan) from the ‘Burgh area, go back home… Keep up the great work…. Pat

  • 30 Mark Westbrook // Jan 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Rick:

    I love your shows! I’d like to suggest an idea for one.

    Fraternal Benefit Societies (also know as fraternal life insurance companies)

    Did you know the whole idea of these organizations started around the Pittsburgh area in the mid-1800′s? Several are still headquartered in Pittsburgh. In fact, Pennsylvania is the still the #2 state where these organizations are domiciled!

    Although they have been overshadowed by commercial carriers in recent years, in 1900, 90% of all life insurance in-force in America was issued by these organizations!

    They were, and still are, a unique and interesting slice of American history that aren’t widely known about, although many of these companies have gone on to be multi-billion dollar financial institutions.

    Let me know if you have any interest in the subject.

    Keep on doing new shows!

    Mark Westbrook
    WQED Member

  • 31 Sandy Smith // Jan 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Rick – Loved your program North Park vs. South Park – as a long-time resident of South Park, I’m wondering where the “Veil of Kashmir” is located within the County park. Do you have an approximate location? I can’t find anything online and was hoping you could help. A street or grove name would be helpful if you have it.

    Thanks – keep up the GREAT work!

  • 32 Frannie Stone // Feb 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Hi Rick,

    For some reason I was thinking about “Stone Manse” in South Park.

    Our family loved the park and went almost every weekend and had picnics in almost all of the groves. We especially loved Stone Manse and had heard that the County was thinking about renovating it. We wondered why they closed the Manse and also the swimming pool?

    Anyway, I just finished watching North vs South….and of course, our choice is South !!!
    So interesting…we adore your documentaries, because we adore “Pittsburgh”. After traveling all over the world, my husband always look at each other when we are driving from the airport and say…I’m so glad we are home.

    Thanks for keeping Pittsburgh memories fresh!
    Not to mention Kennywood where our Aunt owned “Green Gables” a restaurant across from Kennywood park. My Mom and Dad met at the restaurant while working there. All of my sisters and I worked at the restaurant when we were young and then worked at the Park in high school. So when we were young we would run across the street with bags of tickets (which the owners of Kennywood would bring to my Aunt when they stopped over for a cold one, and we used to ride and get to know every inch of the park.

    So many wonderful memories….thanks again for keeping those memories alive.

    Frannie Stone

  • 33 steve lipinski // Feb 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    A friend of mine said he saw my dad’s old pizza shop on rt 60 steubenville pike on one of wqed documentary dvds titled “Things that are no longer there.” My dad passed away @2009, but i would love to show my sons/family dad’s pizza place(He made a great hoagie called a Destroyer). Name of the place was Farney R Buckles. My dad’s real name was Chet Lipinski, but everyone called him Farney. Is this really on this dvd, or the vol 2 @ Stuff Gone?….thanks, Steve Lipinski

  • 34 Rick // Mar 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    STEVE This story sounds like a good one, but I know nothing about such a feature airing on our station. Farney R Buckles was not in THINGS THAT AREN’T THERE ANYMORE or STUFF THAT’S GONE. They were made in 1990 and 1994 respectively, and I assume your Dad’s place was still up and running then. I’m sorry I never got to go there. Sorry I missed the chance to meet your Dad. Take care. RICK

  • 35 Rick // Mar 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    FRANNIE Thank you for this excellent story! The Green Gables is legendary! Since the park has always been “dry,” the Green Gables was the closest place to get a beer, and I guess a lot of folks did! South Park should win a lottery so it could fix up all its cool features. RICK

  • 36 Jason Armstrong // Aug 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    My family moved from the South Park area when I was in 8th grade (1964) but I have great memories of it. Many times I have thought about the stone pools at Stone Manse where I spent most summer days. Are they still there and is there anywhere I might see pictures of them to refresh my aging memory? I wish I could see your shows but my S. Texas PBS station leaves much to be desired.

  • 37 Joesph Lingefelt // Nov 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    It’s hardly ever I come upon bloggers with a writing voice like yours.

  • 38 Rick // Nov 6, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Thanks. I think that’s a compliment. ?

  • 39 Jason // Dec 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    To: Rick Sebak
    If you do another BREAKFAST SPECIAL consider visiting Sweet Sue’s Diner right on route 5 & 20 in Flint, New York State (Ontario County, Town of Seneca)

  • 40 Angela Noppe // Feb 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Rick,
    Just wanted to let you know I love your documentaries. Especially ones pertaining to restaurants. I hope you produce these for years to come. They are great!! Also, wanted to let you know about my takeout restaurant, Grannies in Jeannette, PA. All foods are homemade from scratch. Patrons say we have the best steak sandwich they have ever eaten in their life!!
    Keep us in mind for future shows and/or Pgh Magazine. Jeannette has a lot of great restaurants and a lot of history. You can view our website at http://www.granniestogo.com and also view online accolades.
    Thank You.
    Angie

  • 41 laurie // May 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    When will they show Kennywood Memories again? I was hoping it would be on this month. I want my daughter to see it before she goes.

  • 42 Kimberly Elder // May 8, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Hi! I just wanted to comment that I grew up in West Mifflin and in Green Gables. Mary and Pete were very close to my family. My mother worked there and I was Croatian. Does anyone have pictures of the place. My mother was Norma Mitchell. Wally Mitchell and Josephine Mitchell’s daughter. My mother is gone now and so is Grandpap but I would love to have pictures to show my kids.

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