Station Supporters Savor PBS Insider Experience, “Taste of Chicago”

This September, PBS member stations invited key supporters to the Windy City for the “Taste of Chicago” Insider Experience. This gathering provided exclusive access to PBS programs, hosts and producers. After two thrilling days, supporters from the OETA Foundation, Rocky Mountain PBS, Wisconsin Public Television, and WTIU left Chicago with a deeper appreciation for their role as local community partners. The PBS Insider Experience delivers year-round engagement events that have helped station supporters gain a better understanding for the value of public television and their local station. These intimate gatherings provide a platform for station leaders and gift officers to leverage the quality and impact of PBS for cultivation and stewardship purposes. Insider Experience events have helped stations increase giving for key community services.

The “Taste of Chicago” gave station supporters two spectacular days focused on riveting PBS programs relevant to the Windy City. First, Geoffrey Baer, host of the “10 That Changed America” series, gave attendees a private architecture tour of the Chicago River and took guests on the journey that is the epic drama of the river and the city. Hanging on every colorful and descriptive word, station supporters got an exclusive glimpse of Baer’s abundant historical knowledge and captivating storytelling.

Guests were then given a private dinner at Frontera Grill, flagship restaurant of Rick Bayless, whose PBS program “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” brought to life the foods, flavors and fun of Mexico. Supporters had the chance to talk with Chef Bayless and experience his passion for the uniqueness of Mexican cuisine and why he chose PBS as the vehicle for this program. Everyone agreed as Bayless explained how only PBS can present the quality of a program showing the uniqueness of Mexican cuisine, allowing him to honestly explore the culture which is integral to it.

“Taste of Chicago” culminated with an intimate discussion with NATURE CAT producer Caroline Bandkolik and co-creators, Adam Rudman and David Rudman, who presented an exciting look into the creative process of the children’s program and demonstrated how the educational curriculum is woven into each episode. This final piece of the two days in Chicago focused on the educational mission of local PBS stations, and allowed gift officers to reinforce the critical role of stations to deliver trusted children’s programming and services to their communities. Jon Miskowski, Director of Television with Wisconsin Public Television, said of the NATURE CAT presentation,

This showed our donors the heart of our work and the heart of the people doing the work. It reinforced our value and the reason our donors support us

Lisa Ondak, Major Gifts Officer with the OETA Foundation agreed,

It reinforced OETA’s position as the place children and adults go to for creative, thoughtful television. This was a message that was conveyed throughout the Insider Experience.

Learn more about this and additional PBS Insider Experience events at