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Program Facts Featured Places (Interactive) Rick Sebak Bio Go to PBS web site Go to CPB web site Go to WQED Pittsburgh website Send Us Your Comments Story Go to Home Page
"Rick Sebak is not a filmmaker. He's a brainwasher. He's a brainwasher because you can't watch one of his effervescent films without having a very strong urge to follow in his footsteps and experience firsthand the places he presents so compellingly."
The New York Daily News

"Sebak hasn't got as much attention as "Civil War" and "Baseball" filmmaker Ken Burns, but he has produced an impressive array of "scrapbook documentaries" . . .
The Washington Post

"The progenitor of the shared-memories genre is the plain-talking but faintly droll Rick Sebak, WQED's producer/narrator who "sounds like Andy Rooney, but not as grumpy" . . . or like Michael Moore, only not mean."
Current The Public Communications Newspaper


About Rick:

Rick Sebak produces, writes and narrates unusual documentaries for public television. Whether he's looking at diners in Pennsylvania, ice cream places across the country, or some of the wonderful neighborhoods in his hometown of Pittsburgh, his work is celebratory in nature. He is a friendly guide to various aspects of American culture, introducing viewers to their neighborhoods, explaining the history and charms of things we take for granted, and inevitably finding good things to eat along the way.

His newest work, GREAT OLD AMUSEMENT PARKS, is national in scope and celebrates some of the pre-Disney parks that are still thriving as well as a few of the classic parks that are gone. His love and enthusiasm for his topic becomes contagious, and the exuberance of the people he includes in his program is unmistakably a reflection of his own energy and appreciation.

Rick is no stranger to amusement parks, in 1988, he produced and narrated a program titled KENNYWOOD MEMORIES about the Pittsburgh amusement park that's now a National Historic Landmark. The program won many awards, including the Ed King Memorial Award for Outstanding Broadcast Journalism and the Golden Quill for Best Documentary. Although local in origin, it has been shown in over 100 markets on PBS stations.

Earlier this summer, Rick's A HOT DOG PROGRAM aired nationwide to critical acclaim. The special is a fun look at some hot dog history, a guide to some of the finest hot dog houses in the country, and an unabashedly friendly look at these finely ground sausages and their fans.

In December 1996, Rick's program titled THE STRIP SHOW, about Pittsburgh's wholesale market district called the "Strip," first delighted local audiences, then went on to receive a national airing on PBS in November 1997. Also in 1996, Rick completed two national programs, AN ICE CREAM SHOW and SHORE THINGS, that aired across the country in May and July. AN ICE CREAM SHOW was the second-highest-rated program on PBS that May.

Rick's other work includes HOUSES AROUND HERE (December 1994), a documentary about some old and fascinating places where people live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and STUFF THAT'S GONE, a "sort of sequel" to his 1990 program THINGS THAT AREN'T THERE ANYMORE that has become a model for similar programs across the country.

His 1993 special titled PENNSYLVANIA DINERS AND OTHER ROADSIDE RESTAURANTS, a 90-minute documentary about some of the most charming and idiosyncratic restaurants in the state, aired nationally on PBS. The Washington Post called the program "a tasty documentary."

Rick has produced most of the very popular WQED special programs that are grouped together as the Pittsburgh History Series. He likes to call his programs "scrapbook documentaries," incorporating lots of old films, home movies, postcards, old photos and memorabilia of all sorts. Rick does not appear on-camera in these programs, but audiences have learned to recognize his voice and distinctive narrative style.

In November 1992, his hour-long documentary titled DOWNTOWN Pittsburgh about the city's Golden Triangle, its history, its buildings and some of its unforgettable people, received the highest ratings for any program in WQED's history. When it premiered, it earned a higher rating than Seinfeld, playing opposite it on NBC.

Earlier in 1992, Rick produced, wrote and narrated a statewide special titled THE PENNSYLVANIA ROAD SHOW, a slightly wacky travelogue about some of the unusual things to see and do along Pennsylvania's highways.

In 1990, Rick converted one of his local specials into a national program for PBS: OUR NEIGHBOR FRED ROGERS. A documentary about the life and work of Mister Rogers, narrated by David Hartman, this program won a 1991 CINE Golden Eagle.

Before coming to WQED, Rick worked for 11 years at the South Carolina Educational Television Network in Columbia, South Carolina. His work there included the award-winning documentaries SHAG, about the official state dance of South Carolina, and THE SLIGHTLY WACKY AUSSIE DOCO, a travelogue about Australia.

Many of Rick's Pittsburgh programs are available on home video as part of WQED's Pittsburgh HOME VIDEO COLLECTION, available by calling 1-800-274-1307. National titles, including A HOT DOG PROGRAM, are available from PBS video, 1-800-828-4PBS.


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