By Andrew O'Neill
Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Dan Duncan (left) and Tom Kleespie of 'The Desert Speaks' show off some of the many Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards won by their program. 'The Desert Speaks' is in its 16th season and recently won two more Rocky Mountain Emmys for a segment aired last season.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
From the exotic Amazon River basin to the majestic Grand Canyon, their mission is to bring a variety of desert communities to life for Tucsonans and viewers all over the country.
Now, Tom Kleespie and Dan Duncan each have an Emmy for their work on "The Desert Speaks," a weekly half-hour series broadcast on KUAT-TV, Channel 6.
Members of the National Television Academy Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter, comprised of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and parts of California and Wyoming, awarded the men with the golden statuettes.
The segment for which they won the award is a collection of highlights from the current season of "The Desert Speaks," which includes clips from episodes about the Galapagos Islands, the Grand Canyon and Wyoming's Red Desert, among other locations.
The program is a series of half-hour episodes that are broadcast on about 100 public television stations around the country and are focused on an area's wildlife and vegetation as well as the people who inhabit such regions, Duncan said.
And each place has its own story to tell, Duncan said.
"It's fascinating how rich (these deserts) are in both cultural and natural history," Duncan said.
To best highlight the rich diversity of deserts around the world, Duncan said, he and his colleagues use a travel-based format, which is similar to what viewers would watch on the Travel Channel.
The program is also unscripted because they never know what to expect until they get to each location, Kleespie said.
Past episodes have included pieces about desert tortoises, the effects of a medieval drought on the American Southwest and the adventures of desert treasure hunters.
To enhance the viewer's experience of a region's landscape and culture, Duncan said, the program is always shot in high definition.
In addition to how the program is filmed, both men emphasized that much success can be attributed to the close collaboration among employees, from the host, David Yetman, to KUAT's assistant general manager for television, Rudy Casillas.
"It's always an honor to receive recognition for a team effort," said Duncan, director of photography and editor of the program.
In its 15 years of operation, "The Desert Speaks" has been awarded more than 20 Emmys, and its popularity continues to rise, Casillas said.
"It's consistently one of our most-viewed programs," Casillas said. "I couldn't have been happier. It is well-deserved recognition for the crew."
He said the program reaches about 10,000 viewers each week.
"I think the station really believes in 'The Desert Speaks,'" Kleespie said.
"The Desert Speaks" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and is rebroadcast Sundays at 7 p.m.