New PBS Series to Film in Southwest Florida

Local residents will share their stories through family photo albums

Sep 11, 2018

FORT MYERS, FLA., Sept. 11, 2018 – WGCU in Fort Myers will anchor a Southwest Florida episode of the new public television series Family Pictures USA, showcasing neighborhoods and cities using local residents’ photo albums. Hosted by artist and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, and with major support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), this national series enlarges our understanding of our history, diversity and shared values through the family photo album in the digital age.

“For the past 150 years, families have used the photo album to pass on their stories from one generation to the next. The family album has kept us together,” said Harris, host and executive producer of Family Pictures USA. “But in today’s digital age, we have to work harder to keep and maintain the stories of our families and our communities. Everyone is a photographer, but the stories and communities behind our photos are being lost.”

Starting in mid-October, Family Pictures USA and WGCU will bring family photo-sharing events to Southwest Florida, providing opportunities for individuals, families and communities to engage with and share their personal histories and images for posterity. Participants will be guided through a process that often leads to new discoveries about the photos they’ve lived with all their lives. All participants’ stories will be captured on video and select local families and stories will be featured in the final television program, to air in 2019, and online.

“Family Pictures USA is an innovative and engaging way to build local public media community connections and create national content,” said Maja Mrkoci, CPB Senior Vice President of Television Content and Innovation. “We are looking forward to learning more about the stories behind the images of life in small towns and rural communities across America.”

Researchers with Family Pictures USA will be in Southwest Florida Sept. 17-21 and available for media interviews. Contact Dayna Harpster, Communications Specialist for WGCU Public Media, at 239-425-5124 or dharpster@wgcu.org to schedule a day and time.

Family Pictures USA provides endless opportunities to excavate local history and culture and to highlight new and untold stories from diverse communities. Southwest Florida was selected as a pilot location because of its unique history, which includes rural and coastal communities that reflect many threads of the American fabric.

“We’re proud to be one of only two PBS stations in the country chosen to partner with Family Pictures USA for its national television debut,” said WGCU General Manager Rick Johnson. “By exploring Southwest Florida through local family photos, national audiences will get a deeper understanding of who we are and how we are connected, and local audiences can celebrate that kinship.”

Information about participating in a photo-sharing session is available at www.wgcu.org/familypictures/. On social media, use #familypicturesusa.

Major support for this project is provided by CPB with additional support from the Wyncote Foundation, Independent Television Service (ITVS), Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and Black Public Media (BPM).

About WGCU Public Media
WGCU is Southwest Florida’s source for PBS and NPR programming. As a member-supported service of Florida Gulf Coast University, WGCU’s mission is to provide educational programming that inspires, informs and engages our community. Serving seven counties, representing one-fifth of the state of Florida, with five distinct digital TV channels, two FM radio channels and two HD radio channels and multiple websites, WGCU delivers national and international programming and develops, produces and delivers relevant, informative and educational local programs to the Southwest Florida community.  More information about WGCU is available online at WGCU | Your Southwest Florida Source for Public Broadcasting and by following us on Facebook.

About Family Pictures USA
Family Pictures USA is a new public television series that explores neighborhoods and cities through the lens of the family photo album. Like NPR’s StoryCorps, Family Pictures USA guides each participant through a personal narrative using photographs and images as the primary medium of the story.  Building on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow model, Family Pictures USA travels to different locations across the country uncovering little known and unusual personal stories and connecting them to a larger narrative that better contextualizes particular locales.

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for other updates.