Tuesday, 09 February 2016 10:28

Toronto's First Family of Theatre

Premiered on WNED-TV on March 4

(Repeats on March 26 at 11:00 p.m.)

WNED-TV examines Toronto’s vibrant theatre community in the documentary, “Toronto’s First Family of Theatre.” The city is a world class theatre destination and much of its success over the last 50 years can be owed to the Mirvish family.

In the early 1960s successful Toronto business owner Ed Mirvish purchased the aging Royal Alexandra Theatre, one of the most revered theatre houses in North America. Few expected the theatre novice to make a success of the Royal Alex. Without the natural business instincts of Ed Mirvish, the theatre empire which resulted would not have been possible.

In 1948 Ed Mirvish opened Honest Ed’s, a retail store unlike anything that had been seen before. It quickly became a success with its no-frills style, bright lights, colorful signs, and a wide variety of clothes and household goods for sale at bargain prices.      

Honest Ed’s grew to take over a full city block at Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto. It attracted waves of new arrivals to Canada and serviced the post war boom as the people of Toronto furnished their households. The success of Honest Ed’s provided the financial security to move into new business ventures. With his wife’s encouragement, Ed took a chance on the Royal Alex.

Ed was not prepared for the attention brought on by the purchase of the Royal Alexandra. “The North American media attention I got dwarfed any publicity I’d ever received as a storekeeper,” he wrote. “I knew nothing about theatre. But I thought it was a bargain, so I bought it. And suddenly I was a patron of the arts.”

As the Royal Alex prospered it became a family operation. Ed’s son, David, began working with his father to build the theatre business. David was an established art collector and ran the David Mirvish Gallery in Toronto. The father and son team worked quickly in making financial and artistic decisions. “We have our board meetings when we walk together,” David recalled.

In 1987, David created Mirvish Productions to accommodate more elaborate productions. Within a few years the Mirvish family built the state-of-the-art Princess of Wales Theatre, further elevating Toronto’s place in the theatre world. Its premiere production of Miss Saigon took theatre to a new level in the city.

When Ed passed away in 2007 at age 92, he was remembered as the man who helped create the most successful theatrical company in Canada as well as being a true man of the people. Theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh said of Ed, “He ran an extraordinary empire as if it was a corner store. He will be hugely missed and never forgotten.”



In 2012, David Mirvish announced plans to redefine the Toronto theatre district. Working with internationally known architect Frank Gehry, David is building a multi-use project to expand and revitalize the Toronto neighborhood that is home to the Mirvish theatre empire. The ambitious plan is emblematic of a family who continues to look to the future and how to take Toronto in new directions.




Toronto’s First Family of Theatre is made possible by

the Central Canadian Public Television Association and the members of WNED-TV.  Thank you.




Published in Regional Productions

Premiered on WNED-TV on March 9.

(Repeats March 18 at 11:30 p.m., March 19 at 9:30 a.m., and March 26 at 4:30 p.m.)

Ah, Spring! The most anticipated season in Western New York and Southern Ontario. After our long winters, we look forward to the warmth of the sun, and clear days. We shed our layers; feel active, and light hearted. With Spring comes revival, rejuvenation, romanticism, growth, hope, beauty, color and a new pledge program on gardening from WNED-TV.

Gardening, this most ancient of hobbies is incredibly popular across Western New York and Southern Ontario —from the smallest spaces to expansive backyard escapes. By the time summer officially arrives there will be glorious gardens in full bloom—urban gardens, flower beds, vegetable gardens, balcony gardens— it’s all a labor of love. Gardeners certainly face some challenges in our region where the growing season last only 6-7 months. Plant hardiness zones in our area range from zone 4-6b with microclimates created by the proximity of the lakes, location on the Niagara Escarpment or by the protection brought about by a densely built urban block.

Traditionally gardening skills were passed down from one generation to the next. Today that chain of knowledge has been broken and some skills have been lost over time. Without that garden wisdom the grass may indeed always look greener, and the gardens more spectacular on the other side of the fence. Garden Wisdom for Western New York & Southern Ontario will blend the art and science of gardening and help viewers rediscover simple, green, sustainable tips and techniques from growing their own organic vegetables and creating compost, to adding low maintenance pollinator-friendly native plants to ornamental beds. Experts will not only share the how-to, but help viewers understand the why-to. There is no such thing as a black thumb-everyone can grow a garden with the proper knowledge.

Hosted by Susan Hunt and geared toward the specific needs of gardeners in Western New York and Southern Ontario, this program will offer secrets to planning, cultivating and nurturing your own great gardens and landscapes using time-proven solutions and sustainable practices as well as tips and shortcuts for gardeners of all levels of experience that will save time, money and resources.

The production approach of the program will focus on practical, useful information that viewers can easily put to use. It is about getting our hands into the dirt and demonstrating time-tested gardening techniques. Gardening experts from Western New York and Southern Ontario will have you cultivating your own great garden in no time.  


 On Garden Wisdom for Western New York & Southern Ontario, you will see:





with expert David Clark (Hamburg, NY)

Learn how to create fertile nutrient-rich soil from the compacted clay that is found in most yards in our region.




 with expert Charlie Dobbin (Richmond Hill, ON)

Everyone knows that plants need water, but understanding how to water will give you better results and save time and water too.




with expert Tara Nolan (Dundas, ON)

A properly planned and planted organic garden will naturally resist disease, deter pests and be healthy and hardy.





with expert David Clark (Hamburg, NY)

Learn the three keys to creating a beautiful organic lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood.



 with experts Ken Parker (Irving, NY) and Lyn Chimera (East Aurora, NY)

If you’re looking for beautiful, hardy and low-maintenance plants for your garden, look no further than pollinator-friendly native plants.




with expert Charlie Dobbin (Richmond Hill, ON)

Everybody loves the beauty of an ornamental garden, but creating and maintaining an ornamental garden can take a lot of work--but it doesn’t have to.



Funding for Garden Wisdom for Western New York & Southern Ontario is provided by

HSBC Bank USA and the members of WNED-TV.





Published in Regional Productions
Monday, 28 September 2015 16:40

Focus on Education

There is perhaps no issue more important to the future of Buffalo and Western New York than education.

WNED|WBFO’s Focus on Education initiative is a reporting and outreach project that examines the many challenges facing schools today. From the poor graduation rate in Buffalo to the controversy over Common Core Learning Standards, our comprehensive coverage informs and engages the community as it looks for solutions for students.

WBFO’s newsroom has produced hundreds of stories featuring a cross-section of topics and diversity in education in the Western New York community. Recognized by community stakeholders, WBFO’s Focus on Education has been a participant in educational panels and events to inform the public about what students need to graduate.

We also examine the many efforts underway to improve education in Buffalo and Western New York, including programs such as Promise Neighborhood and Say Yes to Education.

This exciting initiative is funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is part of American Graduate – Let’s Make It Happen! – a public media initiative to address the dropout crisis.

Published in Programming Highlights
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 11:36

Focus on Education: Student Voices

(Bottom row, left to right: Brian Meyer, WBFO News Director; Daija Jones, Mount St. Mary Academy; Damario Burks, Hutchinson Central Technical High School; Myshaleek Harris, Math, Science, Technology Preparatory High School. Top row, left to right: Dan Wilczewski, Global Concepts Charter High School; Richard Bell, Kenmore East High School; Joshue Cruz, Riverside Institute of Technology; India Hector, Leonardo Da Vinci High School.)


In education reform, we consistently hear from state and local leaders, school boards and district superintendents on change and student performance. Many times students are not directly asked what their concerns are or the challenges they face in meeting these expectations. WNED | WBFO hosted 42 students from 13 area high schools to discuss their concerns. From these discussions, it was determined that the three most prevalent concerns of the students were personal matters and peer relationships, family and home environment, and existing school support systems.

WNED | WBFO invited back seven of these students to share their stories and insights with classmates, staff and the viewing audience on "Focus on Education: Student Voices," a WNED-TV production. Program hosts, WBFO News Director, Brian Meyer, and Senior Reporter, Eileen Buckley explore what students are saying about their daily struggles in and out of school. Individuals, organizations and communities share the responsibility of creating an appropriate environment for young people to succeed and thrive. How can our community provide support and guide youth in becoming successful, productive adults?

The students shared their concerns with those who can help. In addition to the high school students on the panel and in our audience, four local student and family advocates and professionals – George Bushey, Depew High School; Aundrea Sanders, Buffalo Public Schools; Janet Cerra, Kenmore-Tonawanda; and Lamont Williams, Hillside Family Services - provide feedback and perspective on the student, peer, family and school environments that exist today.  The community will hear directly from student panelists, their classmates and others in the audience to explore concerns and offer insights for change. The hope is to not only bring issues of concern from students to the forefront, but to seek resolution, offer next step scenarios and empower each person attending to take something back to their school and community for change.


Participating high schools are: Bishop Timon St. Jude High School, Burgard High School, Cheektowaga Central High School, Depew High School, Global Concepts Charter School, Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Kenmore East High School, Kenmore West High School, Leonardo Da Vinci High School, Math, Science, Technology Preparatory School, Mount St. Mary Academy, Riverside Institute of Technology, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, and St. Mary’s of Lancaster High School.





Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #StudentVoicesWBFO 

and visit the Focus on Education website for program stories at: www.wbfo.org


Watch Focus on Education: Student Voices

Student Voices will be featured in a WBFO 4-part series leading up to the television broadcast.

Listen to: Student Voices: Part 1

Listen to: Student Voices: Part 2

Listen to: Student Voices: Part 3

Listen to: Student Voices: Part 4



This town hall was made possible in part by

the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate Let’s Make it Happen Initiative.




Published in Outreach & Education


A new WNED-TV production - 

Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s first and best-known landscape architect, created an enduring legacy in Western New York. Perhaps best known for his design of New York City’s Central Park, Olmsted had a powerful and lasting influence on Western New York.

“Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing Western New York” is a one-hour original WNED-TV production that captures the architect’s impact throughout Western New York. The program includes documentary segments that capture the history and context for Olmsted’s contributions and interviews with local experts that focus on how that legacy is being carried into the future.

Olmsted designed the Buffalo Park System, the first of its kind in the world. Buffalo is where Olmsted first coined the term “parkways” to describe the grand tree-lined boulevards that connected the three parks within the system.

While he was working in Buffalo, Olmsted visited Niagara Falls and was troubled by what he saw. Factories lined the rapids, and fences blocked the best views and allowed the charging of admission to see the falls. Olmsted’s support for the Free Niagara movement led to Niagara Falls becoming America’s first state park.

One of Olmsted’s allies in the Free Niagara movement was renowned architect H.H. Richardson. In 1880, Richardson completed work on the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, one of the best examples in America of the Richardson Romanesque architectural style. Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux designed the landscape for the 203-acre site.

“Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing Western New York” tells the story of all three of these Olmsted contributions. The program also provides a contemporary perspective on Olmsted’s enduring Western New York legacy by examining the current status of the Buffalo Park System, the restoration of Olmsted’s vision for Goat Island at Niagara Falls and the rebirth of what has become known as the Richardson Olmsted Complex.

The program includes interviews with Stephanie Crockatt, interim executive director, Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy; Monica Pellegrino Faix, executive director, Richardson Olmsted Complex; Mark Thomas, director, Western District, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.



Find video, essays and classroom resources at www.pbs.org/wned/frederick-law-olmsted/home/ 


Watch the full 30-minute program,

"Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing Western New York"



Watch "Buffalo's Richardson Olmsted Complex"

One of Olmsted’s allies in the “Free Niagara” movement was renowned architect H.H. Richardson. In 1880, Richardson completed work on the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, one of the best examples in America of the Richardson Romanesque architectural style. Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux designed the landscape for the 203- acre site. 



“Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing Western New York” is funded by the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation.




Published in Programming
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