Johanson calls recent Dmanisi discovery 'mind-boggling'

October 22, 2013

Variation of the type found in a new series of 1.8-million-year-old skulls discovered in Dmanisi, Georgia – an area between the Caspian and Black Seas – is not unusual in our species, says Donald Johanson, founding director of ASU’s Institute of Human Origins. The discovery, however, is in a totally unanticipated place and may revolutionize our ideas of when and why our ancestors left Africa.

Providing expert analysis and commentary on the PBS News Hour on Oct. 18, Johanson points to this discovery as a possible first exploration of our genus outside of Africa; “man the explorer – part of what it means to be human,” he said. Donald Johanson Download Full Image

The discovery was published in the Oct. 18 issue of the journal Science, with authors from international institutions, including Yoel Rak, an international affiliate of the Institute of Human Origins. Johanson is not one of the article’s authors.

Johanson is a world-renowned paleoanthropologist who has published nine books and many scientific papers on human origins and is the Virginia M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins and professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

Johanson discovered the 3.2 million-year-old fossil skeleton, popularly known as “Lucy,” in Ethiopia in 1974, which was a new species, Australopithecus afarensis, and identified as the first bipedal human ancestor.

A full transcript and video of Johanson’s analysis and commentary is available on the PBS News Hour website at

Julie Russ

Assistant director, Institute of Human Origins


Eight, Arizona PBS receives 4 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards

October 22, 2013

For its excellence in television programming, Arizona PBS was awarded four gold Emmy statuettes at the 36th annual Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards.

The Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of NATAS honors the best television professionals from all disciplines of the industry, serving as the common meeting ground for individuals dedicated to advancing the art and science of television in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and El Centro, California. Download Full Image

“We strive to serve our Arizona community with locally produced programming that informs and enriches,” says Kelly McCullough, general manager of Eight, Arizona PBS. “Thanks to community support, we have the opportunity to showcase some of the best of what Arizona has to offer.

"Whether it’s our rich and sometimes outrageous history, advances in technology and medicine, or our eclectic and increasingly world-class restaurant scene – we’re proud and pleased to be recognized for these accomplishments and we hope it brings attention to the diversity and quality of our programming here at Eight, Arizona PBS.”

Eight’s programs won four Emmys in three categories this year, including:


"ASU Discovers," Eight, Arizona PBS
Melody Cavanary, producer

"ASU Discovers: New Perspectives on Research" takes viewers from inside the laboratory out into the community with Arizona State University’s top researchers as they examine some of the cutting-edge research taking place at ASU. The show highlights the work of researchers to detect bone loss, develop programs that will help to prevent diabetes, and efforts to maximize the efficiency of solar energy technology.

"The Latest Procedure: Anterior Total Hip Replacement." Eight, Arizona PBS
Wayne Dickmann, director; Chris Wooley, producer; Jim Cissell, host; Nancy Southgate, executive producer; Kelly McCullough, executive in charge of production; Theodore Firestone, guest physician

Eight’s hour-long special "The Latest Procedure: Anterior Total Hip Replacement Surgery," hosted by Jim Cissell, allows viewers to step inside the operating room with Arizona orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ted Firestone, medical director of the Total Joint Replacement program at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea. During the surgery, Firestone provides a step-by-step explanation of this innovative hip replacement technique, which results in less pain and a quicker return to normal activities for patients.

"The operating room can be a scary place for patients,” says Wayne Dickmann, director of the Eight, Arizona PBS landmark medical series "The Latest Procedure." “Our goal was to pull back the shroud of mystery and educate viewers about exactly what goes on. I think this award and the feedback we've received from viewers demonstrates we were successful in our efforts. We look forward to securing new partnerships this upcoming year so that we can distribute the series nationally and produce more episodes across many other medical specialties."

Interview/Discussion-program/Special or series

"Check, Please! Arizona," Eight, Arizona PBS
Suzanne Guery, coordinating producer; Nancy Southgate, executive producer; Kelly McCullough, executive in charge of production; Scott Wallin, producer; Robert McGrath, host; Mark Harms, art director

Each week, "Check, Please! Arizona" features a trio of guests who dine and then review three local restaurants they recommended to each other. Long-time Valley chef and restaurateur Robert McGrath hosts the half-hour program.

“'Check Please! Arizona' is our most popular locally produced series and we’re very pleased to see it recognized with an Emmy Award again this year,” says Suzanne Guery, the series’ coordinating producer. “There is a lot involved in putting together a show like this, from reviewing hundreds of restaurant nominations and interviewing potential guests, to coordinating shooting schedules with restaurants, to our three guest reviewers for each episode, our crew and our James Beard award-winning host. It’s a large-scale team effort, but when viewers tell us how much they enjoy learning about all the diverse dining options in Arizona and the featured restaurants enjoy significant boosts in business after being on the show, we know we’re on to something worthwhile for our community.”

Season 4 of "Check Please! Arizona" is now in production and scheduled to begin airing in January 2014.  The series received multiple Emmy Awards for Season 1 in 2011, including Interview/Discussion – Program/Special or Series, Lighting and Photographer (non-news program).

Nostalgia program/Program special

"Outrageous Arizona," Eight, Arizona PBS
Scott Wallin, producer; Scot Olson, videographer/editor; Bob Boze Bell, director; Ken Amorasano, executive producer

Hosted by Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of True West magazine and a prolific western history writer and illustrator, "Outrageous Arizona" explores little-known, hard-to-believe tales from Arizona’s past with photographic and illustrated images provided by the archives of True West.