STATE: Farewell season of ‘North Carolina Bookwatch’ to premiere Nov. 7

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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PBS North Carolina’s beloved original production sunsets after 23 seasons on-air

On Wednesday PBS North Carolina announced the return of North Carolina Bookwatch for its 23rd and final season at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 7. The final season of “North Carolina Bookwatch” will feature a diverse set of North Carolina authors over four episodes, including:

  • Barry Saunders, former columnist for The News & Observer and publisher of online news platform The Saunders Report.
  • Wiley Cash, author of thriller “When Ghosts Come Home.”
  • Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, author of debut novel “Even As We Breathe,” the first novel to be published by a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
  • Clyde Edgerton, Durham native and accomplished author of 12 novels, including two film adaptations.
  • Bland Simpson, longtime member of the Red Clay Ramblers, environmentalist, and author of the newly released “North Carolina: Land of Water, Land of Sky.”

D.G. Martin

The long-running literary series will end with a primetime retrospective special at 8 p.m. Dec. 7 on PBS NC. Longtime “friend of the show” Bland Simpson will join D.G. Martin for a look back at the many books and authors that shared the “North Carolina Bookwatch” set over the years.

“For more than two decades, D.G.’s program has advanced our mission to educate, inform, entertain, and inspire our audiences,” said PBS North Carolina CEO Lindsay Bierman. “He captivated his viewers with an abiding love of reading and storytelling while introducing us to some of the nation’s most powerful voices and prolific writers. D.G.’s legacy and contribution to our network will have archival significance and enduring impact.”

“North Carolina Bookwatch” first debuted in 1997 with original host Robin Minietta. After three seasons, Minietta left the anchor chair, opening the position for longtime public servant and politician D.G. Martin in 1999. Over the following 22 years, Martin filmed more than 450 episodes and interviewed hundreds of authors with state ties, from literary giants Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham and Kathy Reichs to local celebrities Roy Williams, Vivian Howard and North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green.

“Hosting ‘North Carolina Bookwatch’ has been a happy part of my life for more than 20 years,” Martin said. “I will always be grateful to PBS North Carolina for giving me the privilege and responsibility of hosting more than 450 programs that brought North Carolina writers into the homes of viewers all over the state and beyond.”

In its 23 seasons, “North Carolina Bookwatch” filmed episodes primarily at its home studio located inside PBS North Carolina headquarters — the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Communications Center in Research Triangle Park. Frequently over the years, however, the show fulfilled its mission of bringing writers and viewers together by filming on-site at literary festivals, colleges and universities and local bookstores spanning the entire state. In a nod to the program’s staunch support of local writers and booksellers, the final season of “North Carolina Bookwatch” was filmed at independent bookstore Flyleaf Books, located in Chapel Hill.

“I’ll never forget the day I was tapped to be the producer/director of this show,” said Katy Loebrich, “North Carolina Bookwatch” producer for the past seven seasons.  “I come from a long line of teachers, linguists and librarians and I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, and working with D.G, meeting authors and working on this show with our amazing crew has been a dream for me.”

To commemorate the show and celebrate its beloved host, PBS North Carolina will host a virtual event at 7 p.m. Nov. 18. The special online event will begin with a preview screening of the final retrospective episode followed by a discussion with D.G. Martin and moderated by PBS North Carolina CEO Lindsay Bierman. The online event is free and open to the public. Additional event information and registration can be found on Eventbrite.

“North Carolina Bookwatch” airs on Sundays at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on PBS NC, and on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the North Carolina Channel.