You may have seen the C-SPAN vans around Ogden in April and wondered what they were doing here. C-SPAN cities tour hit the road earlier in the year, visiting cities across the country that had interesting histories and local authors. I had the great pleasure of meeting up with C-SPAN correspondent Ashley Hill to chat about the Cities tour, what they were doing in Ogden and some of her favorite moments from tour. Check out the show on May 2nd and 3rd and see Ogden featured on this great program.
-What is C-SPAN Cities Tour?
The C-SPAN Cities Tour takes our Book TV and American History TV programming on the road. Working with our cable partners, we travel to selected cities to feature the history and literary life of these communities. We’ve chosen cities that are rich with history and have interesting local literary communities, but are not often featured on the national scene. With our visit to each, we hope to bring a little of their heritage to our nationwide audience.
-What inspired you to choose Ogden?
When choosing a city to feature, we look for communities that have an interesting history as well as a thriving literary scene. Ogden easily fit both of those requirements. The city’s rail history and the rough and tumble past of 25th Street are stories that our American History TV audience will no doubt find interesting. Ogden also has a lot of great nonfiction authors who have written about the experience of living in Utah and the American West.
As I mentioned, we work closely with our cable partners on the C-SPAN Cities Tour—it’s because of our partnership with the cable industry that we get to visit so many incredible cities. In Utah, we worked with Comcast, and it was actually Comcast who suggested we learn more about Ogden.
-What do you showcase about the cities you visit?
When we visit a city as part of the C-SPAN Cities Tour, we hope to give a comprehensive look at the history and literary scenes of an area. The cities that we visit often aren’t cities that would normally be showcased on our networks, and we want to introduce the rest of the country to what makes each city so special. Every place has a story, which oftentimes isn’t known nationwide. It’s our jobs to tell that, and to also hopefully teach the residents of the cities we visit something they might not have known about their own communities.
-What local places did you visit in Ogden?
Our Ogden Weekend will spotlight numerous authors from the area, including Eric Swedin, Susan Matt, John Sillito, Val Holley, and Drienie Hattingh. It will also feature closer looks at Weber State University’s special collections, including pioneer journals from Ogden’s first doctor and his wife. Folks will also hear from the owners of Ogden independent bookstore Wisebird Bookery.
We’ll feature the history of Utah Construction Company and their ties to the Hoover Dam, as well as Ogden’s rail history and the joining of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit. You can’t visit Ogden without stopping by historic Union Station, and our Ogden Weekend will showcase the station’s John M. Browning Firearms and Utah State Railroad Museums. Our programming will visit 25thStreet and Fort Buenaventura, and tell the story of Ogden’s POW camp that housed thousands of German soldiers during World War II.
-What are some highlights from the tour so far?
I often say that being part of the C-SPAN Cities Tour is a dream job in that our crew gets to see so much of the country. America is truly gorgeous, and having the opportunity to take in breathtaking sights of nature and learn about other cultures within our own country has been a gift. In the past couple months alone we’ve visited cities such as Bend, Oregon; Bellingham, Washington; Macon, Georgia; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. These locations are so diverse, and uncovering each city’s stories has been a highlight of the tour.
Something that you won’t see on-air is just how much we get to interact with the people in the communities that we visit. Our partnership with the cable industry, such as Comcast in Ogden, allows us to do extensive community outreach. That includes addressing City Council, speaking with local Rotary Clubs and the Junior League, as well as attending Chamber of Commerce events. It’s great to have the opportunity to see a city through the eyes of the people who live there—to find out how they’re creating positive change within their communities, to hear how they would like to see their city portrayed, and of course, to get plenty of coffee and restaurant recommendations.
We also go into local middle schools, high schools, and colleges to speak with students and educators about our free resources for teachers, careers in journalism, and my personal favorite topic, the C-SPAN Student Cam student documentary competition. Every year we give middle and high school students a topic and encourage them to make 5 – 7 minute documentary films on the subject. It truly is empowering for students to have an outlet in which their opinions on government are valued and encouraged.
-How can our readers learn more about CSPAN Cities Tour and see your tour of Ogden?
Viewers of our C-SPAN networks are going to see a lot of Ogden this weekend. On Friday morning they can catch our interview with Mayor Mike Caldwell on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program. Our Ogden BookTV programming will air on C-SPAN 2 this Saturday at 10:00am MT, with our Ogden American History TV pieces airing on C-SPAN 3 on Sunday at 12:00pm MT. If folks miss these programs when they air or forget to set their DVRs, they can find all of our Ogden pieces on our website at www.c-span.org/localcontent. They can also interact with us and give us feedback via Twitter, where our handle is @CspanCities. I hope the people of Ogden feel we’ve done a good job representing the city!