Cropped KCET photo of the 2016 cast of "SoCal Connected."
KCET found the underwriting to bring back "SoCal Connected" for a seventh season, starting on Wednesday evening, Jan. 27 and repeating Fridays and Sundays. Val Zavala returns as anchor and executive producer; the show will be a half-hour again. The key funders this year are the The Ahmanson Foundation, Chapman University and the Maddocks-Brown Foundation, per KCET's release.
Linda Burns is back as senior producer of "SoCal Connected," while the cast is a mix of new and returning on-air talent: science journalist Cara Santa Maria, reporters Derrick Shore, Conor Knighton, Dija Dowling and Alex Stapleton; and documentary filmmaker Nic Cha Kim. The season opener will focus on stories from the Southern California animal beat.
Here's the rundown:
Coyote Controversy - Coyotes have proven themselves extremely adaptable to urban life. Some communities say they are “too adaptable.” They want coyotes controlled and even killed to protect their young children and pets. Others believe we can co-exist with coyotes if we know how to adapt to them. Now the National Park Service has launched its first ever coyote tracking project. SOCAL CONNECTED reporter Derrick Shore asks, how can we come to terms with coyotes? He meets residents on both sides of the coyote issue, and follows a National Park Service coyote tracker to find out what science can teach us about this clever and sometimes threatening urban dweller.
21st Century Beekeeping - After more than a century, backyard beekeeping is now legal in the city of Los Angeles. But bees have been under siege from pesticides, pests and pathogens. Is there anything the average person can do to help these remarkable insects? SOCAL CONNECTED reporter Cara Santa Maria meets the brainy inventors of a new computer program that can save a hive from destruction, and provide aspiring backyard beekeepers with a high-tech tool for healthy hives.
Keeping Taxidermy Alive - Behind the dioramas of preserved elephants and mountain lions at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is Tim Bovard, one of the world's premier taxidermists. Unfortunately the number of museum-based taxidermists is shrinking fast. Will taxidermy itself go extinct? SOCAL CONNECTED reporter Conor Knighton meets Tim Bovard and discovers a surprising interest in taxidermy nurtured by a woman whose love of animals extends beyond their deaths.
Since it launched in 2008, "SoCal Connected" has picked up a lot of award hardware: Three local Emmy Awards, 22 Golden Mikes, a George Foster Peabody Award, three Regional Edward R. Murrow Award and two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Most of those accolades came in the years before KCET was forced to cut back on the scale of the show.
*Update: Headline fixed. I counted wrong and it's season seven, not eight.
Previously on LA Observed:
KCET brings back a form of 'SoCal Connected'
'SoCal Connected' on KCET may not be finished yet *
Marcus on KCET: 'I feel like I had a great run there'
KCET lays off about 22 staffers, announces reorganization
SoCal Connected statement: We might be back
'SoCal Connected' team wins duPont Award