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NET Notes: ‘Speaking of Nebraska’ covers pandemic’s impact on state

NET Notes: ‘Speaking of Nebraska’ covers pandemic’s impact on state

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Mike root digging 2

Host Mike Tobias (left) takes a look at corn roots in an upcoming episode of “What If ...,” premiering Jan. 21 on NET. Four new shows follow visionaries who think outside the box in a wide range of areas like entrepreneurship, research, non-profits, education, economic development and more, including scientists looking at corn roots in different ways.

LINCOLN — The news series “Speaking of Nebraska” returns to NET, Nebraska’s PBS and NPR stations, with episodes covering issues important to the state.

The series premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, with an update on COVID-19 in Nebraska from infectious disease specialists and a hospital administrator. NET news director Dennis Kellogg will be the host.

The eight-episode series will include discussions about the pandemic’s effect on the economy and education, and a look at the gambling initiatives approved by voters in the recent election. Other topics will include racial equality and minority experiences in Nebraska, as well as food security and food deserts.

“Speaking of Nebraska” airs at 7 p.m. Thursdays (8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4) on NET, repeating at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and noon Sundays on NET. It also airs at 10 p.m. Thursdays on NET World.

The news series airs on radio at 6:30 p.m. Fridays (6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25).

Watch past episodes of “Speaking of Nebraska” and review the topics for the series at

‘What If …’ tells stories of Nebraskans’ innovation, creativity

Good ideas often begin with the question, “What If …” The second season of “What If…” answers those questions and tells the stories of Nebraskans’ innovation and creativity.

“What If …” premieres, at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21 on NET.

Four new shows follow visionaries who think outside the box in a wide range of areas like entrepreneurship, research, non-profits, education, economic development and more.

In the first episode, producer and host Mike Tobias takes viewers along to chase tornadoes with the largest-ever drone-based severe weather research project. Plus, meet an experimental music composer/teacher/performer in Omaha and to learn how a Lincoln candle entrepreneur bounced back from failure.

Episode two, airing Jan. 28, gives viewers a look at how a farmer raises soybeans … and shrimp near Diller, a look at two young Albion farmers putting new ideas into old dirt, scientists looking at corn roots in different ways and high school girls in Bassett who started their own business making gelato.

On Feb. 4, the season ends with back-to-back episodes starting at 9 p.m. The first show focuses on a Benkelman entrepreneur making leg braces for injured dogs, restoration of an 1880s painting at History Nebraska’s Ford Center, a SpiderCam at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and how a rural school district in the Sandhills creatively adapted to remote learning.

In the second show, explore Omaha’s tech library Do Space, visit a bike/coffee shop in Omaha helping kids aging out of foster care and discover how a unique development in Omaha looks to end poverty.

The series also features music from Nebraska composers who submitted pieces for use in “What If …” stories. Some of this music will be featured on radio’s “The Verge,” at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan 17.

“What If …” also has an online educational component of the program called “Innovator Insights” in the PBS LearningMedia library at

These short videos talk to the next generation of young innovators about risk taking and success.

Students learn what influenced the innovators, what they’ve learned along the way and how they got their start. These components are designed for a high school/college aged target audience and include Spanish captions and materials for teachers.

For more information about “What If …” visit

Rare dinosaur tracksite featured in ‘Nebraska Stories’ debut

LINCOLN — “Nebraska Stories” returns with a new season at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, on NET. The first episode takes you back in time with Nebraska State Geologist Matt Joeckel, who studied and published research on a rare dinosaur fossil find in Jefferson County.

More than 66 million years ago along the eastern shores of the Western Interior Seaway, which covered most of Nebraska, plant-eating dinosaurs congregated and grazed. Twenty-two of their fossilized three-toed footprints were found in 2002 on a rocky outcrop on a farm near Fairbury.

Other new story highlights in January include:

“Stargazers”: Follow amateur astronomers who visit Nebraska’s Sandhills to view galaxies far, far away. (Jan. 21)

“A Story of Hope”: Hear from Lincoln resident Abeny Kucha Tiir, a survivor of war-torn Sudan, who shares her inspiring story of hope amidst challenges and tragedies. (Jan. 21)

“Stansbury Stone Faces”: Learn the history of twelve peculiar faces carved in the stone of a 100-year-old building in Nelson. (Jan. 21)

“Return of the Swan”: Follow the conservation success story of trumpeter swans in the Sandhills, featuring photographer Mike Forsberg. (Jan. 28)

“Linh Quang Buddhist Center”: Visit a Buddhist temple in Lincoln built by Vietnamese refugees. (Jan. 28)

“In the Key of Glass”: Learn more about the friendship and musical collaborations between renowned composer Philip Glass and University of Nebraska-Lincoln pianist Paul Barnes. (Jan. 28)

“Greenhouse in the Snow”: Visit a greenhouse in Alliance that uses geothermal heat to produce oranges during Nebraska winters. (Jan. 28)

“Nebraska Stories” explores the art, nature, food, science, history and people that make Nebraska special.

“Nebraska Stories,” funded in part by the Nebraska Tourism Commission and the Margaret and Martha Thomas Foundation, airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays; the 13-episode 12th season repeats at 11 a.m. Sundays at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Mondays in January.

NET offers virtual Indie Lens Pop-Up screenings in 2021 starting with ‘9to5’

A free online film screening and live discussion of “9to5: The Story of a Movement,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, will explore the previously untold story of the campaign against the mistreatment of women in the American workplace.

The virtual event is part of the Indie Lens Pop-Up series presented by ITVS, “Independent Lens” and NET.

To register for this free online event, visit

The working women’s movement that inspired the lyrics of Dolly Parton’s historic song “9 to 5” started with a group of Boston secretaries in the early 1970s and spread across the nation.

Their goals were simple — better pay, more advancement opportunities and an end to sexual harassment — and their unconventional approach attracted the attention of the press and shamed their reluctant bosses into change.

After the screening, join panelists Caroline Waldron, associate professor of history, University of Dayton; Sue Martin, president/secretary-treasurer of the Nebraska State AFL-CIO; John Kretzschmar, director of the William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies at UNO and Mary Jung, former organizer with 9to5 in Cleveland, who is interviewed in the film.

Panelists will discuss movement organizing, issues of pay equity and sexual harassment, and the power of organizing for change in workplaces across America. Indie Lens Pop-Up and NET, Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations, aim to spark enlightening conversations that shed light on these issues.

“9to5: The Story of a Movement,” by Academy Award-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, will also air at 10 p.m. CT, Sunday, Feb. 7 on NET and premieres on the PBS Video App and, Monday Feb. 1 at 9 p.m. CT.

Other films in the 2021 virtual season lineup of Indie-Lens Pop-Up include:

Feb. 9, 7 p.m., “MR. SOUL!” by Melissa Haizlip. Before Oprah and Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show “SOUL!” offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music and politics, capturing a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate today.

March 25, 7 p.m., “Coded Bias,” by Shalini Kantayya. When MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces, she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms that shapes the technology in our lives.

April, TBA, “Philly D.A.” by Ted Passon and Yoni Brook. A groundbreaking documentary series embedded inside the long shot election and tumultuous first term of Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s unapologetic district attorney, and his experiment to upend the criminal justice system from the inside out.

May, TBA, “The Donut King,” by Alice Gu. “The Donut King” tells the story of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself – and hundreds of other immigrant families – by baking America’s favorite pastry and building an unlikely multimillion-dollar empire of donut shops.

Visit for the latest information on upcoming film screening dates and times.

Indie Lens Pop-Up is a free neighborhood series that brings people together for virtual films screenings and community-driven conversations. Featuring documentaries seen on PBS’s “Independent Lens,” Indie Lens Pop-Up draws local residents, leaders and organizations to discuss what matters most, from newsworthy topics and social issues, to family and community relationships. Make friends, share stories and join the conversation online.

Creative writing, illustrating contest open to K-3 students

Every young person has a story to tell and young Nebraska students are invited to tell their imaginative stories using creative writing skills and illustrations in the 2021 NET PBS KIDS Writers Contest.

The contest, sponsored by NET, is open to all Nebraska students in kindergarten through third grade. First-, second- and third-place winners will be selected from each grade level.

Submitted stories can be fact, fiction, prose or poetry and must include at least five original color illustrations.

Entries must be postmarked by Wednesday, March 31, and mailed to NET at 1800 N. 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68503 or emailed to

For more contest rules, details about how to enter and helpful writing resources, visit

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