Every week at the end of this column, you are informed that this author is also the host of “Florida Frontiers: The Weekly Radio Magazine of the Florida Historical Society.”
Beginning Sunday, January 3, at 1:30 pm, “Florida Frontiers” will also be a television series broadcast on WUCF-TV Orlando, and other PBS affiliates throughout the state.
The first season of this television series will have ten episodes which will air monthly. Produced by the Florida Historical Society, each program will explore the same types of topics covered in this column and on the “Florida Frontiers” radio program.
“Wherever we go, people are very enthusiastic,” says Jon White, director of media production for the Florida Historical Society. “People are really into Florida history and culture. All over the state, people stop me and tell me they are big fans of the radio show and find it really interesting.”
The producers are hoping that the new television version of “Florida Frontiers” will generate the same enthusiasm and dedicated following.
For the past year, the “Florida Frontiers” television series has been filming at various locations around the state including Tallahassee, Key Largo, Jacksonville, Miami, Cocoa, New Smyrna, St. Augustine, Del Ray Beach, and Lake Wales.
“One of my favorites was Bok Tower Gardens,” says White. “I’m a lifelong Florida resident, but I’d never actually made it over there until just recently when we went to shoot. That was a beautiful place. Seeing that tower up close was really impressive, and then to be able to go into the tower was truly incredible. It’s quite a view of Lake Wales from up there.”
In its first season, the television series “Florida Frontiers” will cover a variety of topics.
One episode is called “Exploring New Worlds.” From the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States to the launch of every manned American mission into space, Florida establishes the boundaries of the Modern Era. Interviews include colonial historian James Cusick and director of the St. Augustine Historical Society Susan Parker. Also interviewed is NASA astronaut Winston Scott. The program includes drone footage of El Galeon and historic moon landing film.
Another episode is titled “The People of Windover.” The Windover Dig in Titusville, Florida was one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the world, uncovering nearly 200 amazingly well preserved ritualistic burials between 7,000 and 8,000 years old. Interviews include lead archaeologist Dr. Glen Doran, archaeologist Geoffrey Thomas, Vera Walker and other people who participated in the excavation, Brevard Museum and FHSAI Director Patty Meyers, and artist Brian Owens who created the Windover Woman sculpture based on forensic reconstruction.
The first episode of the “Florida Frontiers” television series airing on January 3rd is “The Civil War in Florida.” Florida was the third state to secede from the Union, and played an active role in the Civil War. Interviews on location at the Battle of Olustee Reenactment include historian Sean Adams, historic reenactors Joel Fears and Mitch Morgan, and event organizer Gary Dickinson.
“There were reenactors, and a lot of them,” says White. “This was a really dedicated bunch of people. (The temperature) was in the high 20s when we went out to shoot. It was early, and these folks had camped overnight, so they’re really dedicated to this stuff.”
Also interviewed for “Florida Frontiers: The Civil War in Florida” are Keith Holland, who researched, located, and excavated the steamship Maple Leaf, sunk in the St. Johns River by a Confederate mine; and Sandy Arpen, director of the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society.
“It was a part of Florida history with which I was completely unfamiliar, and I don’t know if most people know about it,” White says. “It makes me realize there are probably things like this all over Florida; interesting little museums and pieces of history that people aren’t familiar with.”
White is responsible for many aspects of creating the “Florida Frontiers” television series, from operating the camera and audio equipment in the field to post-production editing. The content is written and produced by this author.
“I’m hoping to learn more and more about Florida history and culture, along with our viewers, as we go deeper into the program,” says White.