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About Idaho Experience

In 2017, Idaho Public Television launched Idaho Experience, expanding its storytelling platform in the tradition of PBS’s long-running and peerless program American Experience.

Producing balanced, engaging and in-depth programs, the Idaho Experience historical documentary series strives to provide audiences with a better understanding of the key events and individuals that have shaped Idaho.

In researching and telling Idaho’s unique stories, we have also helped connect far-flung families, uncovered forgotten information and added to the historical resources in the public domain.

What’s more, we seek to educate and build local engagement through our community outreach programs, which include screenings at local theaters and discussion panels.

Idaho Public Television is also dedicated to helping encourage lifelong learning and providing resources for educators. We work closely with Idaho fourth-grade teachers to create lesson plans based on our Idaho history programming. These videos and facilitator guides can be found on the PBS LearningMedia portal.

Since its first season in 2018, Idaho Experience has been honored with four Northwest Regional Emmys.

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Bill Manny

Bill Manny is the executive producer at Idaho Public Television. Bill grew up in eastern Oregon and worked for newspapers in Oregon, Idaho, California and Arizona. He spent five years as a political reporter in Washington, D.C., and 18 years as an editor at the Idaho Statesman.

The Idaho Experience topics he's explored include the Idaho Constitution, Ernest Hemingway's Ketchum home, outlaw Diamondfield Jack Davis, the deadly Sunshine Mine fire and Idaho lake monsters. 

That work has taken him from a murder scene on the Idaho-Nevada border to thousands of feet underground in the Silver Valley. He's tasted pie in North Idaho, walked in the footsteps of Apollo astronauts at Craters of the Moon and splashed in the waters of Bear Lake.

photo of Joan Cartan-Hansen

Joan Cartan-Hansen is an Idaho native. She wrote and produced Visions of Idaho, a history of the state for Idaho’s 4th graders. In addition to her contributions to Idaho Experience, she is the creator of the digital project, Science Trek ( This project teaches science to elementary age students and provides support for educators and parents.  

She has produced documentaries for PBS and the BBC and occasionally works for the PBS NewsHour. Joan sits on the board of directors for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Idaho Press Club. 

She has won numerous awards including the Kavli Science Journalism Silver Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, several regional Emmys, and New York Festival awards. 

Andy Lawless

Andy Lawless is a 35 year veteran of theater, film and television arts. His professional career began in San Francisco at Colossal Pictures where he worked as a Camera and Lighting Technician on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Wim Wenders film, Until the End of the World, and various MTV Top of the Hour spots. After Colossal, Andy went on to serve as an Assistant Camera Operator and Lighting Technician on Disney’s animated feature James and the Giant Peach. Other credits include Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace,Monkeybone, Phantom Investigators, and the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Andy started his own production company, Hipshot Productions in 1996. Through Hipshot he had the opportunity to make documentary films on global health issues in Africa, document the first archaeological dig in the Banda Islands of Indonesia and pursue his passion for music through collaborations with Curtis Stigers and a group of other talented musicians. 

Andy joined Idaho Public Television in 2014 as a Director/Editor/Videographer. Today he is pleased to serve as lead producer and director on IdahoPTV’s historical series Idaho Experience. 

Forrest Burger with a camera

Forrest Burger came to Idaho Public Television in 2018 as a producer/director. His career began in Asia working as a photojournalist for CNN Tokyo. He then moved to the NYC area and worked for nearly eight years as a video editor for CBS News. Half of that time was at 60 Minutes. Just prior to joining IdahoPTV Forrest owned a video production company in the Portland, Oregon area.

Forrest is happy to be working for Idaho Experience, saying “My family has deep ties to the Gem State, and it’s great to be able to present Idaho’s history to our viewers.”

Aaron Kunz

Aaron Kunz is the production manager at Idaho Public Television, series director, writer/producer, editor and videographer for Idaho Experience. Aaron is also a frequent contributor to Outdoor Idaho and other shows in IdahoPTV. He's won multiple national awards for his work on Outdoor Idaho, including several regional Emmy nominations and the J. Robb Brady Award for Environmental Journalism.

Eric Westrom in front of the house from "Napoleon Dynamite"

Eric Westrom joined the Idaho Experience team in 2019 as a director, editor and videographer. He comes to the show after more than ten years directing, editing, shooting and writing commercials, news promotion and public service announcements. Eric recently directed the independent documentary Following the Lieutenant: Buffalo Soldiers of the Bicycle Corps, about a group of buffalo soldiers who pioneered the use of the bicycle for the United States Army in the late 1890s.

Eric developed a passion and curiosity for the past while exploring his parents' and grandparents' antique shops. He loves having the opportunity to explore the state and tell Idaho’s stories.

Marcia Franklin sitting at her computer

Marcia Franklin's love of history and documentaries was born in the same place she was: Washington, D. C. “Growing up in our nation’s capital, I was lucky to be able to go to some of America’s best museums,” says Franklin. “Those experiences, along with watching nightly coverage of the Vietnam War and the Watergate hearings, hooked me on journalism infused with the past.”

Marcia is also the lead producer of createid, Idaho Public Television’s online series about the arts. She enjoys bringing untold stories to light, including finding people who haven’t been interviewed before and discovering new historical records (including the documents in her photo!). 

She encourages viewers to preserve the history of people, places and events that matter to them, no matter how mundane they may seem at the time. The material could help tell important stories in the future!

Melissa Davlin

Melissa Davlin is a writer/producer for Idaho Experience, in addition to hosting Idaho Reports. A life-long resident of the Gem State, Melissa enjoys kayaking, hiking and rock climbing, and she takes her son Garrett with her on as many adventures as possible.

Melissa has worked in Idaho journalism since 2005, starting in print and transitioning to broadcast in 2013. She specializes in political coverage, social issues and refugee resettlement. Melissa has won multiple awards for her work, including Idaho Press Club's Broadcast Journalist of the Year for 2015 and 2018, and a regional Emmy in 2019 for her Idaho Experience program "Forgotten Neighbors."