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Last Day on Bay Area Backroads

OpenRoad.TV's Doug McConnell shares his thoughts about the end of the classic TV program, BAY AREA BACKROADS

Doug McConnell with National Park Services Ranger Naomi Torres

by Pete Crooks

It's odd this morning.   I'm leaving in a few minutes to go to one of my favorite spots in the Bay Area, the Marin Headlands, to say goodbye to an old friend. 

First, the place. The Headlands is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA,) the greatest and most-visited urban national park in the world.  From Tomales Bay in the north to the hills near Woodside on the Peninsula, the GGNRA includes 80,000 acres and natural and historic gems such as Muir Woods, Alcatraz, the Presidio, Sweeney Ridge and, of course, the Headlands.  

A little more than a generation ago,  the Headlands was bristling with military batteries and nuclear-tipped Nike missiles.  As the Army began to leave, developers started to move in.  A city of 30,000 was planned right across the Golden Gate from San Franciso.  But thanks to the vision and hard work of dedicated local activists and significant political support in Washington, the urbanization of the Headlands was thwarted and a park was born, one of the first two national parks established within existing metropolitan areas.   Parks for the peeople.  That was the idea, and what a brilliant and successful notion it's been.    So, this morning, I'll visit a natural and historic wonder of the world, and say farewell.

The farewell is to Bay Area Backroads, the show my colleagues and I and others have produced for KRON Television for 23 years.  To the best of our knowledge, Backroads has had the second longest-run of any regional series in America's broadcast history.  And it's been an honor and pleasure to for all of us to do each and every show.  We've traveled far and wide and right here at home. We've met amazing people with extraordinary stories to tell, and we've been able to put the spotlight on excellent organizations doing important work to protect our fragile natural and historic treasures. Although Jerry Graham and I have been the hosts, the real stars of Backroads have always been the people, places and organizations we've featured. 

Unfortunately, tough economic times have required KRON to cease production, though the show will continue in reruns for the forseeable future....and if conditions change and a new sponsor is found....KRON may bring it back. Who knows. But for now, I'm going to the Headlands today to meet a reporter and remember the great run for a story the San Francisco Chronicle is preparing.

For those of you who read this and have watched Backroads over the years, thanks for staying with us.  We couldn't have asked for a better experience and we hope you've enjoyed the programs.  

But while one era ends, another is beginning.  My partners and I have the rights to all the Backroads material, and with that plus new shooting and storytelling we're doing, we've launched www.OpenRoad.TV.  If you liked Backroads, I think you'll appreciate the OpenRoad.TV website.  In addition, we're seeking sponsors so that we can take OpenRoad.TV to local and national Public Television with our friends at KQED. They and we are excited by the prospect. If we get enough sponsorship soon, we can be on the air as early as this fall. No guarantees yet, but we're giving it our best shot. There are just too many stories left to tell, people to meet and places to explore here in California and around the West. 

And so, it's an odd and bittersweet day, saying farewell to a friend while looking forward to the future. Big transitions are like that. I'm just very glad I can go through it in a place I love.

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