Arizona Horizon celebrates its 40th anniversary with former Executive Producer Rip Wilson

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“Arizona Horizon” celebrates its 40th anniversary this week. When the show launched in October of 1981, Bruce Babbitt was Arizona’s Governor and Sandra Day O’Connor had just become a supreme court justice. Since then, Arizona has had eight different governors, and we’ve produced close to 10,000 episodes of this nightly public affairs program. We begin our week-long celebration with Horizon’s first Executive Producer, Rip Wilson.

“There certainly wasn’t any local PBS stuff being done that was like what we were trying to do,” Wilson said.

Sandra Day O’Connor making headlines impacted the starting of Arizona Horizon and pushed Michael Grant to commit as host.

“That was a wonderful birth by fire because it cemented some skills we needed…I think it tipped the scales for Michael Grant to make the decision and commitment to really try to have a law practice and make this work too because he liked doing it,” Wilson said.

Grant along with Horizon covered many of the hearings with Sandra Day O’Connor. He and Wilson were in Washington for much of the time covering it.

It was live and “it had never been done before…we had to figure it out as we went,” Wilson said.

“It delivered remarkably, smoothly I think. Michael just rose to the occasion and it really launched Horizon, I’ve always thought that was the first episode of Horizon really,” Wilson added.

Wilson said after this they got started with the show and tried to get people on to interview who really had no idea about the show and what it was.

He continued that after a couple years that wasn’t the case, everybody knew about Arizona Horizon.

Arizona Horizon has been a “force” for many years and “a lot of that had to do with, and I give Michael and now you primary credit for that because the ability to engage with the decision makers in this valley,” Wilson said.

Rip Wilson, Former Executive Producer, Arizona Horizon

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