We heard from Jon & Taryn Vanderford on the topic "In Search of Pure Nebraska" at Lincoln South Rotary Club on June 4, 2021.
Jon and Taryn shared story after story during the presentation. They started with their backgrounds.
 
Read Husker Love Story: Jon and Taryn Vanderford - click here.
 
Jon grew up in a small Nebraska community. He knew there were good stories about the people in small communities. When Jon started at UNL he was uncertain what his focus would be. He did have an interest in radio. Then he found an opportunity to discuss his thoughts about sharing information about small communities and the idea of Pure Nebraska was born.
 
Taryn also grew up in a small community initially attending country school. Attending UNL with the large enrollment concerned her but, after joining the marching band, she found that gave her comfort - that was her smaller community. Her early career found her in a variety of positions in television which also provided an opportunity for her to travel. Even growing up as a shy person, she found comfort in front of the TV camera. Her early career took them to Knoxville, TN where she worked in a variety of positions on a number of shows for HGTV.
 
Taryn said they are often asked how they do it - how they can work together as a married couple. Taryn explained that she grew up around families working together - her parents and grandparents worked together in farming and set a good example.
 
They do not always agree on their schedules for their trips. Jon said it is a struggle to schedule the travel to the locations and film the stories and not be away from the station too long. He said they are traveling out on Monday to the panhandle and have a list of about 6 communities on the list. It will be a fast trip. Jon likes the efficiency - get out, get back, and work on the dozen stories from the studio. This is where they don't always agree as Taryn would like to have time included in the schedule to just spend time in the community.
 
Jon said it works great to go out on stories with Taryn. She can do the on-camera work, interview people directly and spend time visiting. That gives him the opportunity to walk around, take photos, and see what other stories they may find.
 
He also said it is helpful to travel with a meteorologist - Brad Anderson. There are always weather concerns and it makes scheduling difficult. He shared a story when Brad was driving and all of a sudden he accelerated and Jon asked what was going on. Brad pointed to an area where he was sure a tornado was forming and they were getting out of the route. 
 
They shared many stories. One of the most amusing was when they wanted to plan a visit to Monowi in Boyd County - population 1. They called that resident (Elsie) and said they wanted to interview her and she so no and hung up the phone. They later learned that, not only is she the Mayor, but she runs Monowi Tavern. They made the mistake of calling her over the lunch break. Rather than call her again, they were in the area so decided to drive over and stop by the bar - it was about 3:00 PM and a much better time for Elsie. I learned that Elsie also manages the five-thousand–volume Rudy's Library, founded in memory of her late husband.
 
We learned that, 25 minutes northwest of Monowi is the community of Gross - population 2.
 
Taryn shared that she wanted to do a story on Pilger, her Mom's home town, after the twin tornadoes. They went up the next day with a photographer. Unfortunately their batteries in the camera equipment were low and there was no power in the community. Using the van lighter outlet and photographer was able to connect and have power to film the event. With Pilger so close to her home town, this was an important segment for Taryn to record.
 
When asked if they had done a segment on Long Pine they said yes. But, Jon indicated they may do another segment in the future as he was made aware that a number of renovations are planned for the community. There was a pavilion that where many of the big band era orchestras would play - it is being renovated. There was a large railroad roundhouse in the community that may be rebuilt. The Hidden Paradise in Long Pine is a series of cabins along a creek - as you drive down to the area there is a noticeable change in terrain.
 
The highest point in Nebraska (elev 5,429 ft) is not on top of a hill - it is a plateau in Kimball county in Western Nebraska. The lowest point (elev. 840 ft) is along the Missouri River - Richardson county in Eastern Nebraska.
 
We learned that if you are not able to watch the 9:00 AM show, you can go to the web page and watch the recorded stories: