The McCuistion Program premieres in Las Vegas starting February 7th, with the series Twenty Years of McCuistion – Part One: Education and Our Children.

Time and Channel: 4:00 PM PST – Vegas PBS Rewind, Cox Cable, Channel 110

If you’re in Vegas, tune in and let your Vegas friends and colleagues know.  This is one time that “what happens in Vegas  should not stay in Vegas”.

For the last several years we’ve attended Freedom Fest- Las Vegas and interviewed key thought leaders at the PBS studio including: Steve Forbes, Steve Moore, Daniel Mitchell, David Boaz and Richard Rahn, Charles Murray (author of The Bell Curve), Michelle  Muccio (Acton Institute), Mark Skousen, and numerous others.  So, it is with great pride and pleasure that we are now available on the Las Vegas PBS station.

Vegas PBS is southern Nevada’s local PBS affiliate.  The company also programs 13 additional television and cable public service media channels and produces over 700 hours a year of local programming. The mission of Vegas PBS is to use telecommunications technology and local outreach activities to support the educational, cultural, health, safety and civic needs of Southern Nevada by creating and acquiring content that informs, entertains, and improves people’s lives.

Vegas PBS also offers multimedia products and educational services directly to classrooms, homes and businesses, along with extensive local outreach efforts targeted at literacy and health.  The company serves 1 million a month with its TV and cable channels, records over 12 million classroom student viewings of downloaded digital media every year, enrolls over 7,000 people a year in “for-credit” classes, and receives over 6 million web page visits a year.

In 2010, Vegas PBS will dedicate a new 108,000 square foot Educational Technology Campus which will allow low cost production and storage of digital media on multiple distribution platforms.  The goal is to meet the public safety, public education, public health, workforce development and cultural access needs and aspirations of southern Nevada. The facility has been designed to incorporate a large number of sustainable building features, furnishings and equipment standards as established by national certification organizations making it the “greenest” television station in North America.

We welcome your questions and comments. I can be reached at (214) 750-5157.

As always thanks for watching as we talk about things that matter… with people who care.

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Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/Producer

Celebrating 20 Years in Public TelevisionA celebration of 20 years of McCuistion Television Programming…

Thursday, November 19th at 7PM- Arlington Hall at Lee Park was the site of a gala event – the very first, celebrating the McCuistion Program’s success and 20 year run on KERA, Channel 13, Dallas PBS. A success from start to finish- from harp music at the welcome reception, to desert, conversations and a standing ovation for the co-founders, Dennis McCuistion: Host of the program and Niki Nicastro McCuistion: Executive Producer/Producer. Guests included program panelists, loyal viewers, funders and board members.

Celebrating 20 Years in Public TelevisionThe event was emceed with grace, humor and style by former board member and close friend, Terry Brock, CPAE, an internationally renowned marketing coach and consultant. He illustrated the last 20 years with inside stories that captured audience attention and highlighted the social media work made possible by a Searle Foundation grant. Terry walked us through the new website and blogging Niki has spearheaded with Orangecast, our new social media consulting firm. He showed us how to easily access past and present programs, comment on blogs and stay tuned even when an airing is missed. This work takes the program to another level, yet is still in progress so we hope you join us, comment and Twitter your friends and associates to follow us.

Conversation at each table was hosted by a lead person and included:

Celebrating 20 Years in Public TelevisionHasan Pirkul on education, Jerry Fullinwider on oil and energy in Russia, Iran and Iraq, Ed Wallace on world history,  John Goodman on healthcare, Terry Brock on technology, Cary Clayborne on capital markets, Steve Pejovich on the  Berlin Wall, Larry Steinberg on the Middle East, Dennis on the credit crisis and Niki on terrorism and the Roots of War documentary.

A video of the best of the last 20 years programming Niki had produced for the evening’s event included comments from program guests and supporters from, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Gail Cooksey and her team and Jim and Carol Young congratulating the host and producer on their 20 year TV anniversary. Highlights included candid clips of what goes on behind the scenes to make the program production work. A fun and surprise ending featured Dennis in makeup, commenting that he didn’t look one day older than when the program started, and attributing it to good makeup and shots. The video is posted at the top of the page.

Celebrating 20 Years in Public TelevisionTerry Brock interviewed Niki as the filmmaker- co-interviewer on the controversial Roots of War documentary.  Scheduled to air on KERA in January of 2006, the documentary was funded in part by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, one of our major TV funders. It aired first at the Angelika to community leaders. Protested by the Freedom and Justice Foundation, the KERA airing date was postponed. Niki spoke to what had occurred and what was done by her and Phil Smith, lead camera and co-editor of the documentary, in the ensuing years to get the program back on KERA. She felt compelled to honor the funder’s expenditure and trust and took her own time and money to do so. More of this story can be seen at www.therootsofwar.org. The documentary is going to be posted online as well.

Celebrating 20 Years in Public TelevisionDennis capped off the evening by talking about the future of the program, its collaboration with the University of Texas at Dallas (http://som.utdallas.edu/iecg/) School of Management and the Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance and how the program will benefit and grow as a result.  We recently taped several programs with their assistance in providing us the very best panelists from around the world. Take a look at programs 1807 (Corporate Governance) to 1810 (Wall Street: Capitol of Greed or Builder of Capital – airing on December 27th) for programs that profoundly affect our daily lives.

And of course what would the festivities have been without the host introducing key guests who have been part of our success, from Willis Duff to John Goodman, PhD, CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, among others you’ll see on the Celebrating 20 Years in Public Televisionupcoming excerpts of that night. A sterling moment highlighted energy guru Jerry Fullinwider, who in 1942, played with his then band in the very room the evening’s gala was held in. Paid the royal sum of $25 for the evening, Jerry had to spend $5 of that fee to buy the music they played. We learned Jimmy Dorsey had tried to hire him but Jerry decided to stay in college and eventually go into business. As one of our benefactors, we’re sure glad he chose that route.  But to show he did indeed have talent then and now, a trumpet magically appeared and Jerry played a few bars to resounding applause.

The evening ended with a standing ovation for the co-founders, Dennis and Niki and a promise of more good programming. Stay tuned where as always we talk about things that matter with people who care…

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Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/Producer

Jim LehrerWhen Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and PBS’ NewsHour Anchor, visited KERA sometime back, we were lucky to catch him for a full hour of intimate conversation, televised of course.  Jim shared some of his local story and how he got his start at the studio where it all started… KERA.

This is part two of an intimate conversation with PBS’ NewsHour Anchor, Jim Lehrer…

Dennis McCuistion had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Lehrer. Curious about the PBS NewsHour Anchor’s viewpoint, he asked, “a viewer, seeing all sides of a well-spoken, well thought out perspective, can they then make up their own minds on an issue, if we give them those perspectives?”

In his thoughtful way, Jim responded:

“Absolutely, absolutely right. They don’t need any help from me to tell them what to think, but they do need help from me to provide them with many points of view in a very clean way. And fairness, fairness to ideas as much as to people. On our program someone will come in and say to me, ‘the person who knows the most on this subject is this person and on the other side this person. This person is not as articulate as this person; so it would be unfair to put this person on with this person, they’d mop up the floor with him or her.’

‘So we find a better spokesperson’, Jim says. Now that may sound as if we’re casting a movie. We’re in the fairness to ideas business. That means everything to me. We want people to say; now I understand; now I can decide.”

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Dennis went on to enquire about Jim Lehrer’s interviews with many of the most powerful people on earth. He mentioned an interview Jim had with a recent US President who had lied in that interview regarding a major controversy that had erupted. He asked Jim, with situations like that, how did he keep from being a cynic?  Jim believes journalism is an optimistic line of work. He states, “you have to believe in peace if you’re going to moderate a discussion on peace. We as people are capable of solving every problem.” He quips, “I personally solved the Middle East issue at least 40 times.” His style – “I ask and I listen and I can’t judge.”

Dennis asks, “Did you know President Clinton was lying?” Jim says no and goes on to tell us that there had been no leaks; there was no reason to believe differently. “There was no reason, no record, no way to challenge, and I asked the same question seven different ways. He looked me straight in the eye.” The conversation covered the differences in journalism today, which has moved from substance of issues to titillating.

“Dan Rather spoke of this in the segment before,” says Lehrer. “There was a watershed moment during the OJ Simpson trial when CNN went gavel to gavel and said to the American people, ‘this is news- every day, this is news.’ It wasn’t news under the old definitions. Yes, it was news when the murders occurred, yes, it was news… the white Bronco, yes, it was news when the arrest took place, and he was indicted, and Fuhrman, then not news at all until the verdict came in.” He goes on to say, how the huge audience watching affected other news programs and the nightly news as the networks had to compete. Yet a lot of people said, ‘this is not news,’ and they tuned out. ‘THEY’ (CNN) redefined what news was, using entertainment value.”

Several years before this interview, Dennis and I had interviewed several journalists, household names, in Dallas for a charitable event. He (Dennis) had asked if there was bias in the Media, meaning liberal bias.  He brought up Bernard Goldberg’s work, Bias, and Goldberg’s accusation of liberal bias in the media. Addressing this, Jim Lehrer answered, “Bias in the media? What is this media? Sounds like a dreaded disease.” He reminded us that there is not just one media; there are scores of those scorpions out there. On PBS’ NewsHour he said, “we don’t do that, do not include me in that group.” The reporters joining us that evening at the event were equally outspoken, Jim himself was very clear, “Like all generalities, a little of this, a little of that. That doesn’t exist on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and that’s what concerns me the most.”

Bob Schieffer had replied, “There’s not a liberal bias. Bias is perceived. When people think something is biased they don’t believe it. What we have to do is strive to be credible… That’s the responsibility of a journalist, to try to be fair.”

Dan Rather responded, “I understand why that is said by politicians and others with an agenda. My work stands for itself. I think the public is pretty sophisticated about these charges. They don’t want to know what someone calls you. They want to know what you said on the air.”

Sam Donaldson spoke to this, “I don’t think media is liberal or conservative. George Wills, who’s liberal or conservative, he or I? I don’t buy the premise that media is liberal so we try to advance our causes over conservative causes. It is true that we think our job is to have people explain themselves and tell us what they are going to do tomorrow. We scratch at both parties just as hard.”

And a classic response from Bill Moyers, “Rush Limbaugh is liberal? The Washington Times is liberal? Bill Buckley (was) liberal? McLaughlin is liberal? Donaldson is liberal? I mean come on now, that’s one of  the myths that the right wing is perpetrating to keep your eye off what they’re  really doing.”

Coming back to the present time, on this program Jim Lehrer continues telling us his philosophy for news and its mandate to be fair. He states that everyone should be heard and that it’s not his place to say who is right and who is wrong. Jim addressed the function of the news and the journalist’s responsibility. “My job on NewsHour doesn’t evoke natural smiles. If you’re talking about a situation in the Middle East, what’s funny about that?” He leaves us with his comments about his writing, now nineteen novels and several plays, and his work. The busy PBS NewsHour Anchor finds time for all he does, “The reason I really want to do this nightly news, I love what I do with my whole heart and soul. I’m fortunate to do what I really want to do. I devote time to do what I really want to do… rather than what someone else wants me to do.”

Thank you Jim Lehrer, for a thoughtful and intimate inside look.  Join us for more. And as always, thank you for watching.

Niki Nicastro McCuistion…  Producer

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1522 – 07.12.09

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