OPB presents: inspiration, wonder and good ol' fashioned clean fun.

OPB presents: inspiration, wonder and good ol’ fashioned clean fun.

Gather round this digital hearth, friends: it’s time to get warmed, inspired — even tickled — by OPB’s 2019 videos staff picks.

From stories revealing Oregon’s role in the NASA moon landings to one of the most epic community dinners held this side of the Rockies, this collection is a visual celebration of what makes the Northwest unique.


“Oregon’s Moon Country” (By “Oregon Experience” Producer Kami Horton)

This year, the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before astronauts walked on the lunar surface, however, they first trained in Central Oregon. The region’s diverse lava formations were thought to resemble what they might find on the moon.

“Oregon Experience” producer Kami Horton and an OPB crew spent several days exploring the same awe-inspiring areas where NASA astronauts trained. For Kami, that included soaking her feet in the sulfur-rich (and very smelly) hot springs atop the sprawling Newberry Volcano. 

Newberry is one of the largest active volcanos in the continental United States, located just south of Bend, it is listed by the USGS as a “Very High Threat.”

In the 1960s, it was just one of the sites astronauts visited. They also went to Lake County’s Fort Rock, the mile-wide Hole in the Ground, and the lava flows of McKenzie Pass. 

These different volcanic features are geographically close to each other and yet distinctly unique. For NASA, the region made for a perfect training ground.


“Meet Mel Brown, Portland’s Jazz Godfather” (By OPB Digital Producer Kaylee Domzalski)

When OPB and KMHD sat down in March to go over a coverage plan for Soul’d Out Music Festival, we knew we had to cover Mel Brown, a Portland legend whose career spans from Motown to cultivating the local jazz scene through his various bands and youth camps.

We met Mel at the Jack London Revue, in downtown Portland, where he’s been a regular performer with his B-3 Organ Group. Before the interview, he recounted many of his tour stories traveling with singers such as Diana Ross. But what stood out to us is that what keeps him playing every Thursday is his simple, profound love for the music.


“Hop Along - The Fox in Motion | opbmusic Live Sessions” (By opbmusic Music Director Jerad Walker)

Frances Quinlan’s voice is arguably the most exciting thing in rock music today. The Hop Along lead singer’s dramatic vocal repertoire includes a dulcet tone, hushed whispers and a feral growl that appears in bursts and virtually without warning throughout her songs. Sometimes Quinlan uses all three in one breath, with devastating effect.

Quinlan and her bandmates have released three critically acclaimed full-length records, including 2018’s masterful “Bark Your Head Off, Dog.” Before a headlining performance at Wonder Ballroom in Portland in April, Hop Along performed songs for opbmusic from that record. The clear standout was this incredible rendition of “The Fox In Motion.”


“Corn Husk Baskets With Kelli Palmer” (By “Oregon Art Beat” Producer Eric Slade

We were thrilled this year to tell the story of Mark Rothko, an artist raised in Oregon who became one of the most influential painters of the 20th century. And in a first for “Art Beat,” our Rothko special was selected by “American Masters” for a national PBS broadcast.

Closer to home, we traveled to Warm Springs to spend time with master weaver Kelli Palmer and her mother Eraina. Kelli and her mother create gorgeous, intricate corn husk baskets, a weaving tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

Kelli’s story is now reaching a national audience through “PBS NewsHour’s” new arts website Canvas.


“Tidepooling On The Oregon Coast With Jane Lubchenco” (By “Oregon Field Guide” Executive Producer Ed Jahn)

The world is full of stories about threats facing our oceans. But it’s not enough to hear about the damage being done, whether by climate change or plastic pollution or even underwater noise pollution. Sometimes, we need a visual reminder of what’s at stake. We need to see, up close, the stunning spectrum of life that calls the ocean home.

“Oregon Field Guide” producer Jule Gilfillan and photographers Nick Fisher and Michael Bendixen spent days filming along Oregon’s rocky shoreline to capture these intimate images of Oregon’s tidepools.

But what made this story sing were the heartfelt lessons shared by Oregon State University environmental scientist and former NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco. She patiently conveyed the secrets of the tidepools to her grandchildren as cameras were rolling. This is not a story of despair. Instead, as the children explore the tidepools you can see a love of the natural world taking shape before our eye and for once, feel a hint of hope for our oceans.


“Table For 8,000: An Oregon Community’s Epic Dinner” (By OPB Senior Digital Producer Laurie Isola)

Some say the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, but for the people of Verboort, Oregon, the holidays most definitely begin with sausage.

For more than 80 years, this tiny community outside Portland has hosted its Sausage and Sauerkraut Dinner on the first Saturday of November. It’s a meal of epic proportions (and portions), serving more than 8,000 people in a day. And almost everything is made from scratch by an army of volunteers: 15 tons of sausage, 400 gallons of applesauce, 62 barrels of applesauce. A well-greased machine, the event is an expression of the community’s Catholic faith, immigrant heritage and farming roots.