Paducah Makes Its Mark This Summer on PBS

When Mark Barone took the initiative to transform his Lower Town neighborhood a few years ago, neither he, nor the people at Paducah Bank, nor the people in the Paducah Planning Department, nor the people of Paducah had any idea how far this head-strong guy was going with this idea. Mark Palmer, one of the early artists-in-residence as part of the Artist Relocation Program, also had no idea that an idle correspondence atop his desk would spread the word to the world . . . the world of the Public Broadcasting System.

In early summer, Dennis Wholey, host of This Is America With Dennis Wholey on PBS, conducted a series of interviews with Paducah folks; all because Mark Barone saw a letter from Mr. Wholey on Mark Palmer’s desk. (How are you doing on keeping up with the Marks?)

“I was in Mark’s studio one day and I saw this letter from Dennis Wholey, and I asked Mark if he knew him,” Mark Barone explains. “He told me they had been acquaintances in the D.C. area. So I asked Palmer if he would contact him and maybe pitch the idea of coming to Paducah to talk about the Artist Relocation Program.”
Mark did. Then Dennis did.

In early May, respected and world-renowned interviewer, Dennis Wholey, dropped into the river city and sat down with a variety of local folks; some who have been around a very long time and some who have just set up housekeeping here. The three-part series, which aired in May on PBS affiliates around the country and the world, included inter- views with Mayor Bill Paxton, Chamber President Elaine Spalding, Paducah Bank President Wally Bateman, Paducah Bank Chairman of the Board Joe Framptom, Visitors Bureau Director Mary Hammond, GPEDC Chairman Ken Wheeler, and a select group of artists among several other community representatives. Paducah Bank was s $50,000 sponsor of the PBS series entitled, Paducah, KY: A Small Town with Big Ideas.

Originally planned to be a single broadcast, This Is America host, Wholey, was so “intrigued and enchanted” by the community and its endeavors that the show’s producers decided to expand the show to a three-part series. “When I looked at the mounds of material that Mark Barone sent to us at the show,” Wholey explained, “I thought to myself: well, we’ve been to Japan, Singapore, New York, Florida, and Washington D.C., why not Paducah?”

And so he came, he saw, he interviewed, and he left; happy to have explored, he said, “the more human side of life” in Paducah!

See it for Yourself
If you are interested in checking out or purchasing a DVD or VHS copy of the series, This is America, which was shot in Paducah, contact Susan Guess at or 575.5723.