Two familiar faces are joining the Tennessee Crossroads team this spring! Danielle Colburn Allen and Janet Ivey each have long associations with Nashville Public Television and will bring their unique qualities to the weekly magazine show. Look for Danielle and Janet on Crossroads Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m.
Memphis native Danielle Colburn Allen applied for a job at NPT right after college at MTSU, where she majored in journalism. Though she wasn’t hired then, she was asked to audition for a role in our pledge broadcasts. Eight years later, Danielle is still taking part in NPT’s pledge drives and also hosted Becoming American, a 2016 documentary in NPT’s Next Door Neighbors series.
“I’ve always been passionate about public television because I love history and documentaries,” Danielle said after completing her first Crossroads story. “Now that I’m a mother, I’m appreciative of it even more because of the children’s programming.”
Like other Tennessee Crossroads fans, Danielle enjoys the armchair travel experiences offered by the show. Her first story took her to Big Al’s Deli in Nashville. “It did not feel like work at all; it felt like we stopped by to see an old friend and we just happened to have cameras with us,” Danielle said. She also said the food in the scene wasn’t a prop and that she finished her meal while the crew packed up from the shoot. Food and history are Danielle’s two big passions and she is looking forward to finding stories to help people branch out and learn more about their community.
Janet Ivey is the other familiar new face soon to make her Tennessee Crossroads debut. Her Janet’s Planet children’s science series launched on NPT more than a decade ago and has won 12 regional Emmys and five Gracie Allen Awards. The show airs on more than 140 public television stations. But Janet’s explorations aren’t confined to children’s science adventures, the Covington, Tenn.-native and Belmont University alumna was also co-host of Tennessee’s Wild Side for 15 years. After several years of correcting people who confused that show with Crossroads, she finally gave up and simply thanked them for watching.
Joining Crossroads is also a return to her earliest NPT connections: Years ago longtime NPT producer Ken Simington, who died last summer, taught her the basics of creating a story while working on local segments for WGBH’s Zoom children’s series. “Throughout my years of coming in for pledge drives or doing Janet’s Planet or Arts Break or any number of things I volunteer to do, Ken was one of those happy people,” Janet said. “The thrill for me to be on Tennessee Crossroads will be to carry on that legacy of Ken Simington, my good friend.”
While Janet is still determining what kinds of stories she’ll pursue for Crossroads and her early story ideas lean toward science, the arts and kids. She is also drawn to the kind of quirky, out-of-the-ordinary stories Crossroads specializes in. “Stuff like, well, I never knew that, Mable,” Janet said, laughing.