Huell, Luis, and 'California's Gold'

An Original Publicity Photo for California's Gold

This is the second in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's Broadcast Operations Coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Up today, a look back at the late Huell Howser's long time cameraman, Luis Fuerte. Read more here.

Looking back at our past brings not only memories of the late Huell Howser, but of his cameraman, Luis Fuerte.

Huell and Luis began working together back in 1987, shooting little short fillers called Videologs. A few years later, Huell Howser decided to create a show of his own and he asked Luis, a KCET cameraman at the time, if he wanted to take a year off from work at the station and follow Huell around the state. They would be making shows and telling stories. Luis, being a lover of history, agreed to do it and so Huell began the process by bringing publicity photos to PBS stations around the state. The photo above, was one of them.

Memories Of Pledge Drives Past

The late Dottie Kemps, center in red, at a KCET pledge drive in March 1980. | Photo: Cathy Bower

This is the first post in a series where Cathy Bower, KCET's Broadcast Operations Coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Today, she reminisces about her introduction to the station through pledge drives, the backbone of fundraising in public television's early years. Read more here.

When I came to Los Angeles, I moved in with someone who was working for KCET at the time. I had just missed the March pledge drive and she suggested I volunteer when the next one came around. You answer phones and get free food, she said. So when the August drive was on the horizon, I signed up.

The Director of Volunteers was a wonderful woman named Dottie Kemps. She had worked for the station for many years and by the time I came into her life, she had the pledge drives running like a smooth sailing ship. Everything was handled and accounted for. If you needed more volunteers for a day on the phones, she could call an extensive list of volunteers and get them up on stage at a moment's notice.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Koi Farm and Mosaics

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Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Fake Food"

Have you ever spotted some plastic food and been shocked by how realistic it looks? Have you ever wondered how it's made? In this episode, Huell visits Iwasaki Images of America and gets a firsthand look at this fascinating process.

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Koi Farm"

Huell visits a koi farm and is amazed to see everything that goes into raising these beautiful fish.

Watch a preview:

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Halal Food and a Camel Diary

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Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Halal Food"

Huell learns about the Muslim food tradition of halal. First stop is Payless Produce -- a Halal market known for its Halal meats. Then its off to China Islamic, a restaurant, to sample some very tasty food that proves that this ancient Muslim tradition is alive and well here in Southern California and gives us insight into a very rich and important part of everyday life for our large Muslim community.

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Press Photographers"

Huell meets the photographers behind some of the most memorable and historical images of the 20th century as he attends the opening of the 75th Anniversary Historical Photo Exhibit onboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Watch a preview:

Why You Should Watch 'House of Cards' on KCET

Ask almost anyone about 'House of Cards" and the first thing you're bound to hear is how devilish Kevin Spacey is in the role of manipulative congressman Francis "Frank" Underwood. (I have binge watched the Netflix season one and I agree). Spacey's performance is without question masterful. The rest of the actors, including Robin Wright as the cold-as-ice wife who is a willing participant in her husband's schemes, are perfectly cast. The contemporary Netflix series has worked so well that just as the second season is about to premier, the online content behemoth has already announced there will be a third season of the show. Great for the cast, great for the viewers. And I look forward to it all.

In spite of the hoopla surrounding the series, it's the original 1990 BBC production starring Ian Richardson that handily trumps the 2013 American version. I invite you to tune to KCET and Link TV on Sunday, February 9 for a four-episode marathon of the first season of BBC's original "House of Cards," starting at 7 p.m.

Viewers were shocked and thrilled by what they saw because what happened on screen (the downfall of the Conservative Party's Prime Minister) mirrored what happened when Margaret Thatcher resigned in-between the first two episodes of the political thriller. There's good reason the show captured the backroom drama of British politics: "House of Cards" was based on a novel written by Michael Dobbs, who had served as the former Chief of Staff of the Conservative Party.

The late Ian Richardson is sublime as the Chief Whip of the Conservative Party. While Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood as a vicious schemer in the Netflix model, Richardson portrays Francis Urquhart as a man who relishes the mayhem he stealthily unleashes. (Richardson was a famous Shakespearean stage actor and his into-camera asides -- sometimes spoken, sometimes announced with the arch of his eyebrow -- are startling. There's plenty of dialogue that stands out: "You might well think that. I couldn't possibly comment" is one. When pressed by fellow politicians about the possibility Urquhart could be a candidate for the position of Prime Minister, Richardson demures. Lying through his teeth but coming off as absolutely sincere, Urquhart says "Me? Well, I'm just a backroom boy".

Enjoy the first four episodes of "House of Cards" this Sunday on KCET and on Link TV starting at 7:00 PM. Get in on the binge-watching. And then, let us know what you think.

An Important Message for Time Warner Customers Trying to Find KCET

On Feb. 8, Time Warner will be updating its digital signal and you may find you have trouble finding your favorite KCET programs. You can easily fix the problem, though the steps you take may vary slightly based on your TV manufacturer. Try the

  • Get your remote.
  • Navigate to the RESCAN function. Typically you have to go to either MENU or SETTINGS and find what is usually called AUTO PROGRAM normally found under the heading of CHANNELS.
  • Hit the SCAN or RESCAN option.
  • You may have to wait a few moments while it rescans and then you should be able to find KCET again in your cable line up.
For more information, watch the explainer we're currently airing on air:

If you continue to have problems, you can call Time Warner tech support directly -- (888) 892-2253 -- or search on Google "Auto Program" for your specific TV maker.

Here are some resources for various models of TV sets:

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Donuts and Dioramas

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Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Donuts"

For almost 40 years, Stan's Corner Doughnut Shop of Westwood, California, has baked the world's most gourmet donuts, from a Cinnamon Chocolate Cheese Danish, to an Apple Fritter, to a Reese's Peanut Butter Pocket with fresh banana. Stan's offers donuts you will find nowhere else in the world. Huell spends the morning doing "research" at this Los Angeles landmark.

Here's a preview:

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Diorama"

Huell visits the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to discover the history of its famous animal dioramas. There, he visits with Robert Reid, who has been the resident artist for 20 years at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the man responsible for creating all of the beautiful dioramas. From deserts to beaches, Reid captures the natural beauty with his paint brushes. Robert works closely with Tim Bovard, the taxidermist responsible for making the animals look so lifelike. Together, they make a unique team.

Watch a preview:

Own 'Visiting... With Huell Howser' on DVD

On January 5, KCET aired a marathon in tribute to the late Huell Howser, and the episodes were handpicked by viewers who voted in our online poll. Now Huell Howser fans can own a selection of the top vote-getting "Visiting... With Huell Howser" episodes on DVD. The cost? A $40 donation to KCET.

Here are the featured episodes:

Learn more about the DVD here.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Sauerkraut and Tampico Spices

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Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Sauerkraut"

In 1896, the Kruegermann family started making pickles in Germany. The family immigrated to California in 1965 along with their secret family recipes for not only pickles but sauerkraut as well. In this episode, Huell spends the day with this wonderful family at their 25,000-foot facility, where he learns all about the art of sauerkraut!

Here's a preview:

Wednesday @ 7:30PM -- "Hair Convention"

Join Huell as he visits the 1997 Long Beach International Beauty Expo for a very exciting and colorful look at the world of beauty care. Huell and 50,000 beauty care professionals share a wild day.

Black History Month February Line-Up

KCET is honoring Black History Month in February with several programs that celebrate how African-Americans have shaped the nation's history. Here's a line-up of our relevant programs:

Tuesday, Feb. 4 @ 10PM: Education of Harvey Gantt
Narrated by Tony-winning actor Phylicia Rashad, The Education of Harvey Gantt tells the pivotal, yet largely forgotten, story of desegregation. Interviews with Gantt, distinguished scholars and civil rights veterans, and archival footage and reenactment illuminate the events leading up to Gantt's enrollment, the unfolding of entrance day and the impact of Clemson's integration on the state and the nation. In recounting this chapter of American civil rights history, the documentary illustrates how a determined young man, his family and his legal champions brought about permanent change.

Tuesday, Feb. 4 @ 10:30PM: Civic Life Of Nathaniel Colley
Nathaniel Colley, one of Sacramento's earliest African American lawyers, spent 50 years shaping the course of American history. His passion for education and civil rights brought Colley together with John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Rosa Parks, Edmund "Pat" Brown, and Bill Clinton. We'll discover the achievements of this Sacramento-born advocate for justice and equality.

Friday, Feb. 7 @ 8PM: Meet Mary Pleasant
Meet Mary Pleasant, the 19th-century African American woman born a slave who became an international abolitionist, a prosperous entrepreneur, and a civil-rights activist who helped alter modern-day civil rights law. Now called the Mother of Civil Rights in California,Pleasant--as activist and individual--was that and much more. Meet Mary Pleasant was winner of Best of Festival (Peace Medallion) Award for Best Documentary; Berkeley Video & Film Festival and Best Historical Documentary; New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in LA.

Sunday, Feb. 9 @ 11PM: Colored Frames
Colored Frames reflects on the last 50 years in African-American art by exploring the influences, inspirations and experiences of black artists. Beginning at the height of the Civil Rights Era and leading up to the present, it provides a truthful, unflinching look at often-ignored artists and their progeny. Impressionistic video collages showcase the wide variety, both thematically and stylistically, of contemporary pieces of black artists working in the genres of illustration, abstraction and surrealism, among others. Colored Frames also chronicles the black artist's struggle for visibility and acceptance in mainstream art society as well as their experiences challenging assumptions about what constitutes "blackness," even within their own community.

Friday, Feb. 14 @ 8:30PM: Integrating Ole Miss: James Meredith and Beyond

Integrating Ole Miss presents the University of Mississippi as a microcosm for the Civil Rights Movement in the state and across the nation. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, James Meredith became the first Black student to enroll at Ole Miss. His application created an uproar that made news around the world and culminated in a deadly riot and federal intervention. Fifty years later, the university is fully integrated and, in 2008, international spotlight was once again on the university - this time, however, to cover a presidential debate that featured the man who would become America's first Black President. From the status quo of 1960 to today, Ole Miss, like America, has grown and changed.

Friday, Feb. 14 @ 8PM: Jesse Owens: Enduring Spirit

This is the story of Jesse Owens, the son of Alabama sharecroppers who became one of the most celebrated athletes in the world after winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Owens attended the Ohio State University where he ran track and shattered many collegiate records. This program looks at the impact Owens had after he finished competing and his long relationship with Ohio State.

Friday, Feb. 21 @ 8PM: Building The Dream
Building the Dream recounts the journey of an idea for a national monument honoring Martin Luther King Jr. - from a group of friends talking around a kitchen table to the creation of this permanent symbol - to ensure King's Dream will remain alive for future generations.

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Below are videos of past Black History Month local heroes:

Dr. Richard Allen Williams: Richard Allen Williams, MD, FACC and FAHA, has made it his mission to improve the health of all people while recognizing the particular medical issues affecting African Americans and other minorities through his nonprofit organization, Minority Health Institute, Inc. (MHI).

Angeles Echols-Brown: Mrs. Angeles Echols-Brown and her Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, Educating Young Minds (EYM), are building a better tomorrow for inner-city students.