Former Hometown Stamford, Public Television Launch Ken Burns' Documentary on Jackie Robinson

As the 2016 major league baseball season begins, the eyes of the nation – and his former hometown of Stamford – will once again turn to the remarkable legacy of Jackie Robinson. A new documentary by acclaimed film director Ken Burns, titled Jackie Robinson, premieres Monday, April 11 at 9 p.m. and continues Tuesday, April 12 at 9 p.m. on PBS and CPTV. To kick-off the program’s debut, the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN) will host a special tribute to Jackie Robinson at The Palace Theatre, Stamford on Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m. The event will include live jazz music by award-winning saxophonist Albert Rivera, and commentary and a Q&A session with ESPN commentator and former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville.Jackie_Robinson_Title_878x494

Although not a Connecticut native, Robinson lived in Stamford for nearly 20 years, having moved to the community while a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.  Robinson, known world-wide for breaking the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947, died of a heart attack in 1972, at age 53.

The evening will include an advance preview screening of the new two-part documentary by Ken Burns. The story of the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues features interviews with President Barack Obama, Harry Belafonte, Tom Brokaw, and others who share how Robinson’s determination and heroism influenced generations.12191994_10153655136803080_6232117043660408872_n

Upon arriving in Stamford, Robinson and his family lived with Richard Simon, co-founder of Simon and Schuster, and his wife, Andrea and their family at their North Stamford home before building a home on Cascade Road in North Stamford. The Simons’ daughter, singer/songwriter Carly Simon, recalled going with Robinson to Ebbets Field to see the Brooklyn Dodgers when she was young, the Greenwich Time recently reported.

parkStamford has a public park named in his honor, recalling that Robinson represented tolerance, educational opportunity, and the confidence that inspires personal achievement and success. A life-size bronze statue of Jackie Robinson with an engraved base bearing the words “COURAGE,” “CONFIDENCE,” AND “PERSEVERANCE” stands in the park located on West Main Street, the gateway to downtown Stamford.

Just weeks ago, Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon and her mother Rachel accompanied President Obama to Cuba, and joined him and the United States delegation at an exhibition baseball game.  She told

robinson“It brought back very personal memories of my father talking about his trip to Cuba in 1947, when the Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana. At the time, dad was a member of the Dodgers' farm team, the Montreal Royals. Branch Rickey arranged for him to fly to Cuba for an exhibition game, just a couple of months before he broke down baseball's color barrier in the United States. To me, this connection to my father almost brought me to tears. I was watching a baseball game in the same stadium nearly 70 years later.”

In the two-part documentary, Ken Burns “reveals fascinating stories about the legend’s life on and off the field.”  In part one, Robinson “rises from humble origins to integrate Major League Baseball, performing brilliantly despite the threats and abuse he faces on and off the field and, in the process, challenges the prejudiced notions of what a black man can achieve,” according to PBS.  In part two, Robinson” uses his fame to speak out against injustice, alienating many who had once lauded him for ‘turning the other cheek.’” After baseball, during his years in Stamford, “he seeks ways to fight inequality, but as he faces a crippling illness, he struggles to remain relevant.”

The documentary “paints the picture of a man who challenged institutional racism in the face of harsh criticism. It also delves into his close-knit relationship with his wife, Rachel, and their children through candid interviews and personal family photos.”

In 1997, Major League Baseball “universally” retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. Initiated for the first time on April 15, 2004, Major League Baseball has adopted a new annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day,” in which all players on all teams wear #42.

Of his interest in sharing Robinson’s story, director Ken Burns said, “There was so much more to say not only about Robinson’s barrier-breaking moment in 1947, but about how his upbringing shaped his intolerance for any form of discrimination and how after his baseball career, he spoke out tirelessly against racial injustice, even after his star had begun to dim.”

My dad once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives," Sharon Robinson recently recalled.

Innovation and Impact of Manufacturing Companies in CT Is Focus of New CPTV Documentary

With Election Day less than two weeks away amid intensifying discussion of job growth in Connecticut, CPTV zeroes in on modern manufacturing and the role of innovation in companies. The CPTV Original documentary Made in Connecticut premieres Thursday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. on CPTV. Twelve businesses that exemplify the diversity of successful manufacturing “located and thriving right here in Connecticut” are featured in the program.made in CT

The documentary is part of a three-year, multi-platform initiative by Connecticut Public Broadcasting that celebrates Connecticut’s manufacturing future, from high-tech to hand-made.  The initiative includes additional special programming airing on CPTV and WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio.

Against the backdrop of such timely issues as outsourcing and a global economy, the Made in Connecticut documentary explores topics including:

  • the value that manufacturing provides to the state’s economy;
  • how the manufacturing sector is contributing to the creation of jobs in Connecticut;
  • how advances in technology have changed the nature of manufacturing and the skills needed to work successfully in the manufacturing environment; and
  • how science, technology and innovation are transforming manufacturing endeavors around the world, the nation and the state.

Featured in the documentary are:

  • Barnes Group headquartered  in Bristol, which started as a spring company in 1857 to supply the clock industry and has now exploded into a global leader in industrial and aerospace manufacturing;
  • Curtis Packaging in Sandy Hook, a nearly 170-year-old family-owned company that has reinvented itself as a world leader in luxury packaging and environmental stewardship;
  • Ola! Granola in Norwalk, where a mother of three produces hand-made granola in mouth-watering flavors such as vanilla almond, cranberry orange pecan and chocolate banana-chip;
  • Oxford Performance Materials in South Windsor, a plastics company on the edge of science fiction-like technology, using 3-D printing to create cranial implants for people who have suffered traumatic brain injury;
  • Pratt &Whitney in East Hartford, the industry leader in aerospace, creating breakthrough technology with its PurePower jet engine that will revolutionize air travel;
  • Protein Sciences in Meriden, which has a game-changing flu vaccine that takes just weeks to mass produce to fight pandemics worldwide;
  • Severance Foods in Hartford, a snack food company founded by three friends who invested in a tortilla-making machine in the 1980s, and now employs more than 85 people to produce 40,000 pounds of tortilla chips a day;
  • Tucci Lumber, which makes baseball bats in South Norwalk and was founded by a former Major leaguer.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.4 percent last month as nonfarm jobs reached a new recovery high point. The unemployment rate last month was the lowest it has been in the state since November 2008, according to a state Department of Labor report.  The employment gain of 11,500 jobs in September is the largest since April 1994, the seventh monthly nonfarm employment gain this year and a "vigorous bounce-back" from the revised decline of 1,200 jobs in August, the Department of Labor said.  As the state takes proactive steps to ensure people are trained for manufacturing jobs, employment numbers are simultaneously rising. In the most recent data, manufacturing jobs increased from 163,500 last year to 164,100 this year, Fairfield County Business Journal reported.  The manufacturing industry plays a crucial role throughout Connecticut communities, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy's office pointed out recently, noting that Connecticut’s 4,602 manufacturers account for 10.2% of the state’s jobs and 87% of the state’s total exports.

To prepare future workers, Manchester Community College will lead the state's 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College in a federally funded effort to expand manufacturing education in the state as part of a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, announced this month.  The grant  will support an expansion of the Connecticut Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, which trains students for jobs in the field. The grant will pay for equipment to provide hands-on training, new teachers and educational assistants and the development of registered apprenticeship programs for high-demand manufacturing occupations, among other investments.


“In recent years, technological advances, as well as human innovation and creativity, have put Connecticut on the forefront of a manufacturing revolution. This revolution is not only exciting, it’s important to the local economy, as it’s helping to create jobs. Manufacturing has always been an important part of Connecticut’s culture and economy,” said Jerry Franklin, President and CEO of CPBN, who is to be honored next week by Hartford Business Journal with the publication’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership in the broadcast industry.

The documentary Made in Connecticut is produced and hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Christina DeFranco. Funding was made possible by Founding Sponsor, KBE Building Corporation. KBE Building Corporation is a full-service, single-source commercial construction company strategically positioned to serve the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic, with offices in Connecticut and Maryland.

“We’re passionate about fostering innovation in Connecticut’s manufacturing and technology spaces, and we just happen to have built more technical high schools around the state than anyone else.  We’re thrilled to shine light on this critical aspect of the state’s current and future economy,” said Mike Kolakowski, KBE Building Corporation’s President and Principal Owner.

See preview on You Tube.   

High Marks for PBS Programming, Affiliate Stations

Connecticut Public Television will celebrate its 50th anniversary at a gala on June 8 at the Hartford Marriott.  CPTV is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including original documentaries, public affairs shows and educational programming.  CPTV has built a reputation as a leader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role in bringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas & Friends™ to public television. The station is an affiliate of PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, which just released its annual survey on public perception of its programming. The survey confirmed that PBS and its member stations are ranked first in trust among nationally known institutions, and are considered an "excellent" use of tax dollars by the American public.  The yearly study has also called PBS the most fair network for news and public affairs 10 consecutive times. In the most current round of research, PBS KIDS was named the most educational TV/media brand, the safest destination for children to watch television or visit online, and the top provider of content that helps children learn reading, math and essential skills. In each question, PBS KIDS significantly outscored cable and commercial broadcast television.

  • More than 4 in 5 people trust PBS (85% "trust a great deal" or "trust somewhat")
  • Nearly 3 in 4 participants (76%) believe federal funding for PBS is money well spent. 
  • More than 4 in 10 respondents (44%) named PBS KIDS the most educational TV/media brand, significantly outscoring the second most highly rated brand, Disney, which was considered most educational by 12%.
  • Eighty-one percent (81%) agreed "strongly or somewhat" that "PBS helps prepare children for success in school and life."   

PBS received high marks for the effectiveness of its programming for children and adults in terms of handling important topics. A majority of respondents believed PBS programming addressed key subjects – from providing access to the arts and improving literacy to providing access to a variety of viewpoints either “very well” or “well.”

•    Provide people access to arts and culture – 67% •    Promote an understanding of American history – 62% •    Inform people of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity – 60% •    Promote an understanding of science and technology – 60% •    Improve literacy – 59% •    Provide access to a variety of viewpoints – 54% •    Inform people of important political and social issues – 51% •    Inform people about health issues – 51%

8 in 10 people (80%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that “PBS helps prepare children for success in school and life.” This statement was equated with cable television and commercial broadcast television by 37% and 34% of participants, respectively.(3)

Eighty-four percent (84%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “helps children improve their reading and math skills.” Cable and commercial broadcast television received this rating from 40% and 30% of respondents, respectively.(3)

Eighty-eight percent (88%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to watch television.” Only 34% and 36% of respondents agreed with this statement regarding cable and commercial broadcast television, respectively.(3)

Eight-five percent (85%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to visit online,” while this statement was attributed to cable television and commercial broadcasters by only 31% and 34% of the sample, respectively.(3)

Eighty-three percent (83%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS is "the innovator" in children’s educational media. 37% percent and 27% of participants also applied this statement to cable and commercial broadcast television, respectively.

The research was conducted in January and February 2012 by the independent, non-partisan research companies Harris Interactive and ORC Online Caravan. Each year, PBS commissions research to measure its performance and value as judged by its most important stakeholder – the American public.  Full results are available at