By Kelli Phillips
“You must have the best job in the world!” Words often spoken to my husband, Bob, after more than four decades of traveling the back roads of Texas. Spending all of my professional life in media of some type, I would have to agree.
Television has been a part of my life ever since I was a teen and a local merchant asked me to appear in his TV commercials. Commercials soon turned to long format videos and even a brief stint in radio. Then at the tender age of 18, I was chosen to be the co-host of “Evening Magazine” in San Antonio. At that point, I guess you could say, I had been bitten by the TV bug! So when I was asked to be a part of a morning news team in Beaumont, Texas, it was hard to say no. Mornings soon turned to afternoons then evenings with all the hard-hitting news of the day.
The addition of social media suited me well, too, because it gave me the opportunity to keep my viewers informed on a minute by minute basis. I felt a responsibility to be the person everyone could turn to when they needed to know what was going on in our community.
I especially love reporting the stories about every day unsung heroes, ordinary people often doing extraordinary things to help others. It was after watching just such a story I had delivered on our local newscast that Bob said, “I really liked that. It reminded me of something we would do on TCR. Too bad you don’t have time to tell the WHOLE story. “
That started the many wheels in my brain turning an unfamiliar way. I had not given it much thought but, by necessity, television news is an abbreviated series of headlines followed by the bare facts. I wanted to tell stories about people’s lives. So when Bob said, a short time later, “I have an idea for how to make TCR, and my life, even better,” I was very interested in hearing what he had to say.
Leaving hard news reporting behind was not without a certain amount of self-doubt. What I did in news felt important, because it was important. But, now, after traveling the Texas back roads for the past three months in preparation for the new season of TCR, I realize these stories about the positive things people are doing with their lives are equally important.
And to top off my newfound love for this new direction in my life, just today a woman said to me, “You must have the best job in the world!”
“Yes I do,” I told her. Yes, I do.
Our latest ‘not-so-secret’ project is underway. For now we’re calling it “Untitled Cookbook #3.” Catchy, right? Okay, so the name might not be very exciting, but what is exciting is that you could be in it!
It all starts with a recipe – or several. Send us your personal favorites, along with a little bit about yourself and why this recipe matters to you and your family. We’ll add it to our own list collected from friends, coworkers, and people you’ve met on TCR.
Then this fall, “Untitled Cookbook #3” will hit the shelves packed with great stories to share over great food. Don’t worry, I promise we’ll do something about the name.
How to Send in Recipes:
Include category, your name and city, and a little about yourself and the recipe.
Email Recipes to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories – Appetizers, Beverages, Soups, Salads, Vegetables, Main Dish, Casseroles, Meat / Poultry / Seafood, Breads & Rolls, Desserts, Specialty Dishes
Dallas / Fort Worth viewers,
Great news! Based on your feedback, we’ve worked with our partners at KTXA 21 to move TCR to a permanent, more convenient timeslot. Starting Feb. 7, we’ll air at:
Saturdays, 6:30pm on KTXA 21
Thanks to YOU, the most dedicated viewers in all of television, for sticking with us through recent changes. We’re consistently flattered by how much TCR means to you, and are proud to be a part of your life.
See you on the backroads,
TCR is moving to prime time! In the Dallas / Fort Worth market only, the show will air at a new time beginning this weekend, October 5:
Sundays, 9:30pm on KTXA 21
This weekend we’ll taste the Official Cupcake of Texas, meet the hardest-working guy at Antiques Weekend in Round Top, and beat the heat in some of Texas’ coolest caves.
The new season of TCR starts airing in Texas this weekend, and you don’t want to miss it. Our latest episodes will take you to every corner of the state.
We’re going to tell you all about the Regency Bridge shown in our credits every week; visit a one-of-a-kind chocolate shop way out west; reveal the best drive-in movie theaters in the state; and meet a young girl who’s already a successful dairy farmer.
And that’s just week 1! We’ll have a new show every single weekend up through our Christmas special in mid-December.
I hope you’ll join us for more backroads adventures. Our show wouldn’t be what it is without our amazing viewers, and these days you have more ways than ever to reach us. We’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or even “old-fashioned” email.
So you know what to do by now – Hop in and travel with us!
Recently two huge media mergers have been proposed to the FCC – Comcast Cable with TimeWarner Cable, and AT&T Uverse with DirecTV. Depending on FCC requirements, these mergers could squeeze out rural and independent programming – shows like Texas Country Reporter.
“Ladies & Gentlemen,
Carriage of the rural, independent programming delivered by RFD-TV and RURAL TV is at stake now with the potential merger of Comcast Cable with Time Warner Cable, and the separate merger of AT&T U-Verse with DIRECTV. If approved by the FCC, these two mergers will control over 54,000,000 homes effecting RFD-TV and RURAL TV viewers in all 50 states.
Let me be clear – we are NOT opposed to these mergers, at this time. Instead, we are working hard to raise the level of awareness of the plight of rural, independent programming in Washington, DC, and how we can insure that our channels are treated fairly with these mergers so that rural interests are protected. In May, I testified before Congress, and met separately with both the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) and the DOJ (Department of Justice). All were very interested in the potential effect of these mergers on rural America.
These same people are now reviewing the potential mergers between Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable, along with the pending merger of AT&T with DIRECTV. This is a big deal, and will essentially determine RFD-TV and RURAL TV’s carriage for the next several years on all these cable and satellite systems.
At this time, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) wants to get comments from the public. Here is your chance to really make a difference, and make your statement in support of RFD-TV and rural programming. There is a short and simple process to register your comments directly to the FCC. Here’s how:
1. CLICK HERE to go directly to the FCC page for making comments. (PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW BEFORE GOING TO THE FCC PAGE).
2. Select Proceeding Number 14-57: Applications of Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable Inc. for Consent to Assign or Transfer Control of Licenses and Applications
3. Fill out the form with your name, address, and comments in the boxes provided.
4. Click “Continue” at the end, where you will review your information and comments one more time.
5. Click “CONFIRM” and your comments are then delivered to the FCC.
I ask that you do this without delay, as there will be a limit to the time for public comment. Each and every comment takes us one step closer to insuring that RFD-TV and RURAL TV are carried post merger(s).
Note – Remember this is FCC Proceeding Number 14-57 – Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable. Make sure that 14-57 is in the first line on your FCC form.
Comcast has been removing RFD-TV from many of their cable systems over the last year. Mr. David Cohen, VP at Comcast, explained the dropping of RFD-TV in Colorado and New Mexico in August/2013 in the House Judiciary Hearing on the merger by stating that Comcast is “primarily an urban-cluster cable company”. That did not sit well with the rural Congressmen on the panel. Mr. Cohen gave no explanation for adding Al Jazeera America two days after taking RFD-TV down on those same Colorado and New Mexico cable systems, or for carrying BBC World News as an independent channel on all their systems. I also testified at that same hearing, and asked the rhetorical question “Can’t there be room for at least one channel that serves the interests of rural America”?
Please feel free to contact me direct with any questions at Patrick@rfdtv.com.
Together, we can get this done and ensure that rural programming is distributed on cable for years to come. Breaking news on this matter will be announced on all our channels – RFD-TV, RURAL TV, FamilyNet, and RURAL RADIO on SiriusXM channel 80, and through our e-mailed weekly newsletter.
Thanks so much for your support. I apologize for all of us having to go through all this, but the attitudes of these urban-based media executives make this all necessary. We must stand up, now, to make sure that a wall is not built between urban and rural America.
Rural Media Group, Inc.”
We’re in love.
With a machine.
She flew into our lives like a whirlwind, and nothing will ever look the same. Six rotating blades, short-range video broadcast, gyro-stabilized camera mount – she’s perfect. She’s also a remote-controlled camera drone. Thanks to cameras getting smaller and smaller, and electronics getting better and better, now these drones are now ready for prime time.
We incorporated one into a recent commercial shoot for one of our sponsors, Mueller, Inc. It was tons of fun, and we got shots you could never get with a traditional helicopter. You’ll see those spots on the air soon. Look for the warehouse interior shot, where our drone pilots expertly flew indoors, dodging cranes and racks. You’ll also see shots that start up close and pull way back – a maneuver too dangerous to do with a big helicopter and a human being standing in front of it.
As technical people, it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of wanting every new technology that comes out. We generally resist those urges, until those new technologies engage our creative side. When that happens, then we know it’s time to fly.
A few weeks ago we met avid Geocacher David Bryan, and he introduced to a fantastic world hiding all around us. (TCR #1389) The Geocaching hobby boils down to two activities everyone should remember from growing up – hiding and seeking. Folks hide objects all over the world, and anyone can go find them using GPS coordinates. In that episode we did our fair share of seeking, trying to unravel David’s cryptic clues.
But now the tables have turned.
We have begun hiding Texas Country Reporter Geocaches all over the state. Can you find them? Once you make a free account on geocaching.com, then you can see our list. Our caches started full of TCR goodies, but there’s no telling what other kinds of S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get) other finders have left inside. The only way you’ll know is if you get out there yourself.
And a big “TFTC!” to all of the cachers who have opened our eyes, especially David. Happy Hunting!
Now you can watch Texas Country Reporter even more places. TCR is now airing on the cable channel FamilyNet five nights a week. Watch us Monday through Friday at 6pm central.
FamilyNet focuses on family programming appropriate for all ages. Not sure if you get FamilyNet? Use their handy dandy search tool to check for cable providers in your area.
It’s that time again – time to start planning for the 2014 TCR Festival on Saturday, October 25. We’ll turn downtown Waxahachie into Texas Country Reporter city for a day.
For most folks, that just means you need to show up and have a good time this Fall. But if you’re an artist, craftsperson, or food vendor, then we need your application soon.
Print and mail us the application from our Festival page to apply. Keep in mind this is a juried show, so the selection committee will take time to thoroughly review each entry.
Holy cow, that was a lot of cattle. First we showed you the daily cattle drive in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Is it a tourist thing to do? Of course, but it’s also the best chance plenty of people will have to be that close to a longhorn.
Then we met Joel Lemley, an auctioneer who specializes in longhorns. He and his wife also raise them on their remote ranch outside of Blackwell, Texas.
After that we held our noses and spent the day with The Cow Poop Ladies. Turns out their bags of dried dung don’t smell at all, even when you burn them as a mosquito repellant.
And lastly, we learned something new about the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Prolific Western artist Harold Bugbee was the museum’s first curator, and his archives are being preserved there today.
Even on a gray, rainy day, we couldn’t help but feel cheerful after passing the Beaumont Wavers.
Then we saw some of the rarest cars in existence when we met a man who restores vintage Ferraris. Even took a ride in one.
After that it was off to Royer’s Pie Haven in Round Top. This cozy coffee shop is the vision of Tara Royer, the daughter of our old friend Bud Royer, aka “The Pie Man.”
Finally we explored international folk art at the San Angel Gallery in San Antonio. Hank Lee travels the world providing grants to unknown artists, and then he gives them a place to sell their creations.
Over the weekend we showed you sandhill cranes soaring above the Texas Panhandle, and it truly is a breathtaking sight. It was also about the coldest I’ve ever been in my life. We had to be in place and still before sunrise so as not to spook the birds. We were wandering through the tall grass by 5am, freezing our tails off trying to set up cameras, tripods and microphones in the pitch black. Let me tell you, hot coffee and a coat is no match for the West Texas wind in winter.
We showed up thinking we would film the birds in the morning, interview Jude Smith, and call it a day. However, it was so cold our camera batteries died in a few minutes. Imagine standing in the middle of a dark field, shivering, numb, and disappointed. That was our experience, until Jude offered to take us out again that night to see the cranes return.
We got a second chance to witness nature’s beauty, and this time the cameras were rolling the whole time.
We featured “Central Texas Tools” on the show in 2012, and it became one of our most talked about segments that year. (Need a refresher? Watch it now). The men of the Carpenter family have run their tool business for 4 generations, fixing oil field equipment from a rickety, tin shack in Abilene.
Last week we dropped by to see how Tom, Tommy, and Pierce were doing. Well, the elder two were at lunch, but “low man on the totem pole” Pierce was minding the store. He showed us in, and showed us the last thing you would expect to find in a machine shop – fan mail.
From Australia to Europe to a boardroom at the BP company, people were moved enough to write them heartfelt letters of support. A couple of generous souls even donated to the “Dr. Pepper and peanuts” fund. And that high level BP meeting? It included a safety officer who sent them all their own goggles along with a light scolding for not wearing any eye protection. So yes, kids, when you’re watching, don’t try that at home.
You’ll be glad to know the shop is just like we left it – dirt floor, tools scattered about, and an honest day’s work underway.
Hi friends, if you’re a regular visitor to texascountryreporter.com, then you’ve already noticed our new website. We’ve upgraded not only the look and feel, but also all of the ways you can be a part of our travels. First and foremost, you can see exactly what’s coming up on TCR right there on the homepage. We’ve also found many of you through a growing social media presence – Now our Facebook and Twitter feeds appear right there, too. Like us, follow us, or send us a message. We love hearing from YOU. This site works beautifully on smartphones and tablets now, too, so you can take us with you wherever you roam.
This blog is also new, and you’ll hear from some of the other folks who help me put this show together. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling, then this is where you’ll find out.
But don’t worry, we still have all of the great things you’ve asked us for over the years – A Texas events calendar (submit your events here), YouTube videos, episode guides with contact information, and results from our Texas Best viewers’ choice polls. It’s all laid out in a more logical manner, and you can find most everything from the home page. We’re more accessible than ever before. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you on the backroads.