This week on New Mexico in Focus, we say goodbye to a mainstay at NMPBS, Gene Grant. Grant’s thoughtful and balanced approach to issues of the day made NMiF go-to watching for a generation of viewers. This week, we look back at the highlights of Grant’s career here, while making sure to assess the impact of his nearly two decades of work.
Grant’s first appearance on NMPBS, back when the show was called “In Focus,” came in 2005 as a guest. During that interview, former host Kate Nelson asks Grant about his thoughts on shifts in journalism during the booming blog era and the responsibilities journalists have to their readers.
In 2014, PBS was airing the hit series "Finding Your Roots," where host Henry Louis Gates and a team of genealogists gathered information on the family histories of celebrities and public figures. In October of that year, Grant sat down with genealogist Ruth Randall and got a few surprises about his own family history.
PBS NewsHour has had a major impact on our station and Grant’s coverage over the years. In 2010, then-NewsHour correspondent Gwen Ifill stopped by our Albuquerque studios to speak with Grant about her book, “The Breakthrough, Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” The two speak candidly about perceptions and trends in Black politics at that point in America.
Also in 2010, Grant got the opportunity to speak with another NewsHour legend, Jim Lehrer. At the time, Lehrer was the managing editor of PBS NewsHour. During their conversation, the two discuss a slew of changes that were happening at the PBS flagship show, including a shift to multi-media news. Lehrer finishes their conversation with a nod to the importance of local PBS reporting.
So, we collected several clips of Grant’s appearances on NewsHour, discussing everything from house foreclosures in New Mexico in August 2010, to his interview this January about a series of allegedly politically motivated shootings, for which defeated Republican candidate Solomon Peña has been charged.
To make Grant’s final show extra special, we assembled a group of people who’ve been around the show, and Grant, for years. Kathy Wimmer is a retired producer who helped build The Line, making sure we had the right group to dissect the issues of the week. KKOB radio host T.J. Trout appeared on the show early in Grant’s career and quickly became one of the show’s favorite guests. And Cathryn McGill, the founder and director of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council has become a key contributor on the program over the years. The group discusses the way journalism has changed during the last 18 years since Grant first appeared on NMPBS and gives our beloved host a proper sendoff.
NMiF airs on NMPBS 5.1 (KNME HD) Friday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 13 at 7 a.m., and streaming on the PBS video app.
The Line Opinion Panel
T.J. Trout, radio host, KKOB
Cathryn McGill, founder, director, NM Black Leadership Council
Kathy Wimmer, former New Mexico in Focus Producer
Grant’s Early Years on NMPBS
David Alire Garcia, former co-host of New Mexico in Focus
Gene’s First Appearance on NMPBS (May 2005) Correspondent
Gene Grant, former freelance journalist and columnist at The Albuquerque Tribune
Grant Finds His Roots (October 2014)
Ruth Randall, certified genealogist
Grant Speaks with Gwen Ifill (November 2010)
Gwen Ifill, former PBS NewsHour correspondent
Grant Interviews NewsHour Legend Jim Lehrer (May 2010)
Jim Lehrer, former PBS NewsHour managing editor
New Mexico in Focus is the New Mexico PBS prime-time news magazine show covering the events, issues, and people that are shaping life in New Mexico and the Southwest. NMiF takes a multi-layered look at social, political, economic health, education, and art issues, and explores them in-depth with a critical eye to give them context beyond the "news of the moment."
NMPBS Executive Producer, Public Affairs, is Jeff Proctor. New Mexico in Focus Senior Producer for Public Affairs is Lou DiVizio. “Our Land” Senior Producer is Laura Paskus. The producer of New Mexico in Focus is Antonio Sanchez and Co-producer is Kathy Wimmer.
Funding for New Mexico in Focus is provided by the McCune Charitable Foundation and Viewers Like You.
Funding for the Your New Mexico Government Project comes from the Thornburg Foundation and New Mexico Local News Fund.
Funding for Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present & Future, is provided in part by the Neeper Natural History Programming Fund for KNME-TV.