Donor profile: Dale and Jennifer Emerson
Sept. 22, 2020
When Dale and Jennifer Emerson saw Pavlo perform at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in February, they were blown away by his energy. They loved the guitarist’s gesture of giving away his instrument to a random audience member at the end of the show.
“It was such a sentimental gesture, the way he gave the guitar away,” Jennifer said. “He played it all through the show, so the recipient got something really special.”
The Emersons said they wouldn’t have been there if they hadn’t seen a Pavlo concert on Arizona PBS.
“After that, we looked into going to Pavlo’s show in Greece,” said Dale, “but then this pandemic came along.”
Travel is a passion for Dale and Jennifer, who have explored a long list of places around the world. “When we travel, we both return having learned as much about ourselves as the countries we visited,” said Jennifer.
Until they can resume their world travels, the Emersons are traveling vicariously through shows like “Rick Steves’ Europe” and other favorite PBS programs.
“‘Art in the 48’ brings out so many unexpected places, especially now — it kind of lets you get out in the community again,” Jennifer said. “And I love Mark Tarbell on ‘Plate & Pour’ — he’s just sparkly and witty and fun.”
“Ted Simons and ‘Arizona Horizon’ are a real jewel for Arizona PBS,” said Dale, “and ‘Frontline’ has to be one of the best programs on any channel.” Jennifer agreed, noting that PBS’ ability to dive into analysis of complex issues that other networks don’t have time for is important to them.
Jennifer is a fourth-generation Arizonan — her great-grandmother homesteaded in Bumblebee, Ariz. — so she remembers watching KAET from a young age. “My mom enrolled at ASU in 1968 to pursue a teaching degree,” she said. “My brother and I were in grade school at that time. She was highly committed to education, and it was not unusual for her to plop us in front of our black and white TV to watch a PBS show she thought we should see. These viewings were not optional!”
When Jennifer attended ASU herself in the 1970s, many of her classes were held in Stauffer Hall, which also housed KAET’s studios. “It was impressive for the times, especially since some activities could be viewed from the windows,” she said.
For the Emersons, choosing to support Arizona PBS was almost second nature. As they were setting up their trust, their attorney asked what charitable donations they might like to make. Without needing to talk about it, they knew.
“Dale and I just looked at each other and we said, yeah, Arizona PBS,” Jennifer said. “It was funny, we didn’t even have to talk about it.”
Dale agreed. “I think if you have that spirit and watch PBS and grow with it, it becomes a part of you. It really does.”
This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of Arizona PBS magazine. Photo by Paula Maturana.