All posts by Rob

Rob McClendon is Host and Executive Producer of the nationally televised Oklahoma HORIZON television show. McClendon and his staff cover stories across Oklahoma, the nation, and internationally showcasing people and businesses that contributes to the state’s economic success. “Each week we strive to give our viewers context to the changes in our world. We go behind the headlines and try to offer intimate stories on people and places who illustrate the bigger picture.”

On the Horizon: Devastating Drought

Few times in my life have I experienced something where I was moved to tears. When I traveled to Southwestern Oklahoma and saw the devastation brought on by the severe drought, my tears were some of the only water around. The temperature was so brutal; my equipment was too hot to touch at times. My hands were blistered from grabbing my tripod and camera.

This area has not seen any rain since October of 2010. Their grass is dried up, if it has not been burned by fire, and most of their ponds are history. Livestock and equine producers are forced to sell out because they simply cannot feed or water them. We stopped by the sale yard in Apache, OK, and the sight there was almost unbearable. The average number of cattle that runs through there is about 3,000 head of bulls and steers on Thursdays. Because of circumstances beyond control, there were over 6,000 head already there and trailers kept rolling in. When it was all said and done, auctioneers sold until 4:00 the next morning.

Growing up in Washington State, I never knew drought. I did grow up on the “dry side” of the state but we have a wonderful irrigation system that has made Eastern Washington a prime agricultural area. I never dreamed I would see the day where Americans are restricted in their water use. It was a wakeup call for me as I drove through Cement, OK, and saw very few people watering their lawns. Even when the time came to where people could water, many forfeited their chance to save water for the firemen.

A lot of times, stories like these create awareness and people take a stand to change things. Unfortunately, in this case, the change that needs to be made is RAIN. So say an extra prayer, do a rain dance, or whatever it is you may do. Because the people, the livestock and the land in Southwestern Oklahoma are drying up and are running out of options.

~Andy Barth

On the Horizon: Devastating Drought from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Flour Made the Local Way

It has been a rough year for wheat farmers…again. It seems like we’ve been saying that a lot the past few years. Some fear there is no end in sight.

Several producers in the tiny town of Hydro, Okla. may have found the light at the end of the tunnel. Whole wheat producers are running their wheat through PBar Farms’ Stone Stack Mill for a premium price. Loren Liebscher is PBar Farms’ owner and is an advocate of production agriculture and education.

Liebscher is passionate about teaching kids where their food comes from and how to eat healthy. He uses the mill and his corn maze to teach kids about the importance of agriculture.

As a lifelong agriculturalist, I have devoted much of my time to educating the public about agriculture. Whether I was in FFA or shopping in the grocery store I have always found people who do not know about the food they eat. Producing the food is not enough. We have to be advocates and educate people about what we do so there will be a future for the industry we love. In this week’s video blog, see how local wheat producers are adding value to their product.

~Andy Barth


On the Horizon: Flour Made the Local Way from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Below the Surface

This job is amazing. It takes me so many places I never thought I would go. When I first came to Oklahoma, I was excited to see the competitive livestock and be a part of the progressive agricultural industry. What I didn’t expect was to be engulfed in the Oklahoma lifestyle.

A few months ago, I met a young man who gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “grab life by the horns.” He has wrestled steers, fought men in cages and hunted and fished for every kind of animal known in Oklahoma. I knew if I wanted to experience a different side to Oklahoma I needed to hang out with Kaleb Summers. When he told me there was a way to fish with your hands and pull out huge catfish, there was no hesitation…I had to get in the water.

Like any fishing trip, things didn’t go exactly as planned and unfortunately for us, they seemed to take a turn for the worse. Not only were water levels low and drying out the holes, but the wind kept picking up and beating us against the rocks. When the wind got to the point of being dangerous (as if getting slammed into rocks wasn’t bad enough) we decided to leave and get the boat out of the water.

While en route back to the ramp we encountered huge swells of water coming over the sides of the boat. It was a very rough ride to say the least. All of a sudden we heard a loud pop and saw mud fill the water. Our motor sputtered, choked, and then died. At that point it was all hands on deck, or more like all hands in the water. With the boat in tow, I swam to shore with the guys pushing. After getting the vessel out of the water we realized we cracked the hydraulic cylinder and tore up the prop. Since it was the beginning of the weekend this meant we were on foot for the rest of the trip.

After we got our bearings and were back out on the water, Kaleb found out how I act under pressure when I am face to face with a lifelong fear – snakes. Kaleb found a water moccasin in a rock and told me to come look at it. I freaked out and jumped out of the water. That wasn’t good enough for Kaleb and he killed it…or so he thought. All of the sudden the snake shot out of the rock and made a bee-line for Kaleb. He jumped out of the way and the snake swam to shore.
Continue reading On the Horizon: Below the Surface

On the Horizon: Too Hot to Handle

As a member of Class XV of the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Program, I get to visit many places across the state of Oklahoma to learn how agriculture is done. It is a program I have wanted to be in for many years and was privileged to do so this go round. I have learned so much at times my head is spinning. You’d be surprised what really goes on down on the farm.

For example, the diversification that takes place all around you, from wheat to vegetables to fruit, sometimes all on the same farm. To remain economically viable, Oklahoma farmers are learning how to make a living year round versus just seasonally. Sometimes that means a nontraditional crop.

In this week’s video blog, I show you our state’s hottest crop from Southwest Oklahoma.
Alisa Hines

On the Horizon: Too Hot to Handle from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: The Man Behind the Voice

For many, author Michael Wallis is the voice of the heartland. A transplanted Tulsan, Wallis made his literary mark with books on the famous and infamous. In addition, Wallis is well known for his passion for the open road, penning multiple books on route 66.

He also garnered fame as the voice of the sheriff in the Pixar movie, Cars. In this week’s video blog, I visit with the author about what he believes writing is all about.
~ Rob McClendon

On the Horizon: The Man Behind the Voice from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On The Horizon: A Royal Pain

I was recently watching a report on Prince William and Kate’s 11-day swing through North America, when the reporter said the Duchess is bringing with her 40 different outfits, but not her “stylist.” I guess I should applaud her for being able to dress herself for a week and a half, but that simple statement just reminded me of the chasm between the royals and the rest of us. I am no fan of a leisure class living off the hard work of others, either in Brittan or in this country.

Yes, we have our own royals; they just go by the name “super rich.” Words do not describe the disdain I have for politicians that in the attempt to get our country’s fiscal house right propose aiming such belt tightening solely at the middle class and below, while refusing to ask the super rich to share the burden that Wall Street and investment banks created.

You know we live in a world upside down when CNBC’s Jim Cramer of Mad Money fame (a Wall Street cheerleader if there ever was one) says he is embarrassed to be in line at Starbucks knowing his Wall Street gains are being taxed at a much lower rate than the incomes of the middle class workers behind him.

We are now almost three years out from when we learned those whiz kids on Wall Street were actually just street hustlers using our money to put billions into their own pockets while putting at risk our entire national economy.

In the summer of 2009, I sat down with The Nation’s columnist Bill Grieder to talk about the financial mess our country was in. Grieder has spent the last 40 years covering our nation’s capitol and says when it comes to pointing fingers for financial meltdown and subsequent recession; there is enough blame to go around. Continue reading On The Horizon: A Royal Pain

On the Horizon: Plight of the Honey Bee

I have been on edge around bees for as long as I can remember. It amazes me how a tiny insect can frighten so many people. But when I had the opportunity to take a look inside the sweet home of honeybees (in a bee suit of course) I jumped at the chance.

What we found inside was incredible. There were huge gaping holes in the comb and the bees were not making honey like they should have been. We may be on edge about bees, but beekeepers are on edge about varroa mites. These little critters sneak inside the hive and weaken it. Not only does it hurt the bees but the beekeepers as well. Mite damage can cost producers millions of dollars and drastic hive loss, causing a quite a sting for beekeepers

In this today’s video blog, I introduce you to the president of the Oklahoma State Beekeeper’s Association, Keith Amason, as he shows us what is buzzing in the honeybee industry. Amason is a second generation beekeeper and is an ambassador for Oklahoma beekeepers. Suit up as Keith takes us up close and personal inside the threatened life of the honeybee.

~Andy Barth

On The Horizon: Plight of the Honey Bee from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: A Brave Woman–Clara Luper

Her’s is not a household name like that of Rosa Parks and she did not garner the kind of national attention Martin Luther King did. But Oklahoma’s Clara Luper was a pioneering woman in the civil rights movement. Leading one of the first sit-ins at a drugstore in Oklahoma City, Mrs. Luper is credited for forcing local eateries to de-segregate all across Oklahoma, and eventually the nation.

Throughout her life, she worked for equal rights until her death this month at age eighty-eight. In today’s video blog we revisit an interview we did with her in 2005 as part of a black history exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center.


A Brave Woman–Clara Luper from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Flying High with Brilliance

I was not looking forward to spending an entire day listening to stuffy business men talk about the aerospace industry. First of all it’s way over my head. I chose broadcast journalism because it is just that; journalism. Math and science not included. Furthermore, how exciting can airplanes be anyway?

I was in for a wake-up call and a reminder of why my job is so cool.

They say it is like speed dating for the aerospace industry. The annual aerospace summit in Tulsa, OK, brings together officials and aerospace aficionados from around the world to discuss all the new things heading our way. As a multi-billion dollar industry, aerospace proves to be extremely important to Oklahoma’s economy. The industry provides an astounding 143,000 jobs and $12 billion dollars annually to the state.

Now back to the stuffy business men. Yeah they were all wearing suits, but it turns out these guys were more along the lines of oh…geniuses. We are talking about men and women who have walked on the moon. Astronauts so intellectually brilliant they draw complicated designs on napkins. No not squiggles and doodles, but the design plans for the B2 bomber. CEO’s of Boeing and American Airlines. Airplane pilots who have decided to retire from the grueling occupation and perfect unmanned aerial reconnaissance used for spying by the U.S. government.

The men and women of the aerospace industry are incredible. My brain will never work the way theirs does. Continue reading On the Horizon: Flying High with Brilliance

On the Horizon: Rocket Man

A half century has passed since President Kennedy challenged our nation to do what most thought to be impossible: Land a man on the moon. Yet in just eight years, Neil Armstrong made that giant step for mankind…thanks in great part to the work of several Oklahomans.

Per capita, Oklahoma has more former astronauts than any other state and many were in attendance at an event to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the race into space.  Former astronauts and NASA workers gathered at the Oklahoma History Center to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s challenge to Congress:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” – John F. Kennedy

Few people embody Oklahoma’s pioneering spirit more than General Thomas P. Stafford…a man whose mother came to the state in the back of a covered wagon, while he later rocketed into space. The same passion that took General Stafford to the moon is still evident today in his work to educate a new generation about science and technology.

This week in our video blog, we visit the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma to look into our country’s aerospace history, as well as, the life of an extraordinary Oklahoman.


On the Horizon: Rocket Man from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Plight of the Wheat Farmer

Do you know where your food comes from? With so many people moving off the farm and into urban areas it’s not surprising we’ve lost touch with our agriculture roots.

When farmers became capable of producing food beyond the needs of their own families, others in their society were freed to devote themselves to projects other than food acquisition. Historians and anthropologists have long argued that the development of agriculture made civilization possible. The total world population probably never exceeded 15 million inhabitants before the invention of agriculture. Now only about two percent of the population (farmers) are feeding the rest of the world. And many of those farmers are over the age of 50. What will happen when they die off? Who will step up and feed the world?

There IS a new generation of farmer. But where grandpa was solely a farmer and could make ends meet with what he earned, the new farmer has to be smarter and work harder usually at two different jobs. In our video blog this week, I travel to Fairview, OK to visit with a farming family to find out just what goes into a wheat harvest and how they are combining life on the farm with life in the office.

~Alisa Hines

On the Horizon: Plight of the Wheat Farmer from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Silly, Silly, Silly

No matter where I travel, nearly everyone I meet shares something in common: A love of home. It is a hometown pride that can often take a strong prescription of rose-colored glasses. But unlike successful personal relationships where we overlook a loved one’s flaws, overlooking your hometown’s shortcomings can be disastrous.

I live in an historic neighborhood that borders Oklahoma State University. Built in the 1930’s, it has parks and boulevards of what where well-maintained, tree-lined streets. Recently though, a troubling trend emerged. Family homes were quickly being bought up by out-of-town investors; turning them into rental property. In an effort to make a quick buck, landlords subdivided rooms cramming as many students in as possible. With no place to park, lawns became parking lots and my quaint, easy neighborhood began to spiral downward quicker than I could have ever imagined.

Many of my neighbors moved away, but others decided our neighborhood was worth saving. What started as a grassroots effort, has evolved into a proposed conservation district. Just as you would protect vulnerable eco-systems, they hope to preserve what is Stillwater’s last remaining historical neighborhood. Their efforts are not alone. Across the state, people are realizing maintaining older neighborhoods is a wonderful form of recycling. In today’s video blog, I want to take you to a similar neighborhood in Oklahoma City that is finding new life.

Rob McClendon


On the Horizon: Neighborhood Alliance from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Second Chances

I recently went on a trip with my Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership class to a garden in Enid. I was very impressed with what I saw and heard and thought it would be a story my fellow Oklahomans would appreciate. So I went back a few weeks later and am glad I did. I think you will be too.

It’s such an uplifting story and one that has a lesson to learn about giving others a second chance. They work closely with the prison in Enid to help some of the inmates who are getting ready to be released. I’ve done other stories about former inmates and the problems they have right after being released and it’s sad the issues they have with just the basics in life…a job and shelter. One gentleman who was released a couple of years ago, couldn’t find a place to live near where he was finally able to get a job because of the city ordinances in place. It had to do with the fact that if you have a prison record, you can’t live within a certain distance near schools, churches, or parks. Well in the town he was trying to move to, schools, churches, and parks were everywhere so he couldn’t get a house or an apartment. He didn’t have a car so he couldn’t live too far from his place of employment. Luckily, he had a wonderful employer who just happened to have a vacant room on the second floor of her business where he could live. The place had a shower and a kitchenette so it was like a mini apartment within walking distance of work. She understood what it means to give a second chance to someone who has made mistakes and atoned for them.

Now I realize the ordinances in that town were put in place to protect people but sometimes you can go a little bit too far in doing so because of fear. Fear that a person with a not so reputable reputation might do harm to your neighborhood. But we shouldn’t let fear cause someone else to be harmed, namely the person who can’t find a place to live and who just wants to be able to contribute to society. They’ve learned their lesson and done their time and are now ready to step up to the plate and be a good, law-abiding citizen. Will there be some who become re-incarcerated? Sure, but is that because they weren’t able to change or is it because they haven’t been given a chance by society to prove they’ve changed. I believe many times its because they aren’t given that chance so all they’ve got is their old life and old way of doing things. They need a helping hand.
Continue reading On the Horizon: Second Chances

On The Horizon: Tradition Meets Technology

In a world where technology seems to run our lives, agriculture serves as a role model of how to merge tradition and innovation. Farmers have proven time and time again how they utilize the past to influence the present and continue to provide for our future.

This week we introduce you to a woman who was on the fast track to a corner office in the corporate world but decided she wanted to give back to the environment…and her neighbors. Coleen Thornton is a prime example of how sustainable agriculture is a beneficial way farming can benefit an entire community. From organic crops to hand spun yarn…everything on Thornton’s farm serves a purpose.

Growing up in agriculture, I often heard the stereotype that farmers are cruel to the environment. This ag entrepreneur proves this theme wrong, because in order to be successful in agriculture, it is vital to be a steward of the land.
~Andy Barth


On the Horizon: Tradition Meets Technology from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Deadly Decision

Balancing my job as a broadcast journalist and my career as a rodeo cowgirl can be challenging to say the least. Two different worlds that, on certain occasions, I get to combine and produce a story that is close to my heart in more ways than one.

The deadly equine herpes virus has been a hot topic in our arena at home and has the broadcast world buzzing. Should we stay or should we go? That was the main question plaguing me as a horse owner and last week I got to turn the camera on some of my closest rodeo friends and let their voices be heard.

A virus of this magnitude could potentially end our horses lives and our careers. However, after talking to the experts, we learned the nitty gritty details and got a glimpse through the eyes of horse owners all across Oklahoma as they gear up to protect their horses in several different ways.

Courtenay Dehoff


On the Horizon: Deadly Decision from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Pharmacy Danger

I have never had a gun put in my face, but in talking to those who have, I hear a recurring theme; no matter the caliber, when you are starring down the barrel it looks like a cannon. Something I thought of when I learned of the conviction of an Oklahoma City pharmacist last week.

Jerome Ersland was given a life sentence for the first-degree murder of would be robber 16-year-old Antwun Parker. The 59-year-old pharmacist shot the youngster six times during an attempted armed robbery in 2009, leading jurors to decide he had acted beyond the limits of self defense.

Dramatic surveillance footage shows Antwun Parker and an accomplice running into the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in South Oklahoma City and pointing a gun directly at Mr. Ersland. Ersland then shot the 16-year-old dropping him to the floor. After chasing the accomplice from the store, Ersland then gets a second gun before shooting Parker another five times.

I wonder if when Mr. Ersland went to pharmacy school, he could have imagined he would find himself in such a life and death situation.

When asked why he robbed banks, bank robber Willie Sutton is reported to have said…”because that is where the money is.”

That same principle applies in a disturbing trend of pharmacy hold ups. Criminals not looking for money, but for drugs. In today’s video blog, Oklahoma Horizon’s Courtenay Dehoff introduces us to another Oklahoma pharmacist who was on the wrong side of drug store violence.


Pharmacy Danger from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: Pawnee Bill

The year was 1888 and the Wild West was changing. Recognizing that fact, showman Gordan W Lillie, known today as Pawnee Bill, started a Wild West show that traveled the country and the world until 1913. But, the story does not end there.

In 1988, the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum hosted the first re-enactment of Pawnee Bill’s original Wild West Show. Every year since, they have continued the tradition the last three Saturdays in June.

Today in our video blog we head to Pawnee, Oklahoma, to learn more about the man who began it all, and the people who have kept his dream alive more than a century later.


Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

On the Horizon: A Sad Symptom

As I write, medical examiners have yet to release the official cause of death for University of Oklahoma football player Austin Box.   According to El Reno Police, a friend who lived with the 22 year-old found him unresponsive and believed he had overdosed on prescription pain pills.  In a 911 recording, the roommate said Box takes pain pills and he’s not responding to me.

If true, it’s just the latest sad incident in a troubling trend: the misuse of prescription medication, whether intentionally or accidentally.  Former OSU basketball coach Sean Sutton plead guilty last year for illegally obtaining pain pills that he began taking after a back surgery then to which he subsequently became addicted.

Box played a brutal sport that requires unusual physical and mental toughness.  The demands often require playing through pain and sometimes even injury.  I worry that in our attempts to explain such a tragic loss of life, we focus on the symptoms and not the wider disease.  Prescription medications are just as addictive as anything purchased from a seedy street corner.  According to law-enforcement, prescription painkillers rank second behind marijuana as the country’s most common illegal-drug problem.  Today we begin a multiple-part video post about a growing problem that cuts across all age groups and economic classes.



Prescription Addiction from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.

Literary Landmark–Wilson Rawls

I love my job.  Every week I get to meet people who know significantly more about something than I do.  I once heard Bill Moyers liken it to walking on the shores of others’ oceans of knowledge.  That is why in 2005 we started a PBS television show called Oklahoma Horizon,  to discuss the issues and visit the places that give our viewers context to our changing world.  From an awful time slot on a single station, we have grown into a show now seen in 40 million homes across the U.S. and in 17 countries around the world.

The stories we tell from week to week will range from economic and social trends to just plain ole feel good stories about life in a state we all love and want to see be the very best.  This week we begin our postings with a story about a story.

Native American legend has it that a very long time ago, a little boy and girl were wondering through the Cherokee Hills when they were caught in a blizzard.  It was not until the following spring their bodies were found lying next to each other, their hands still clasped together.  Between the two little ones, an unusual red fern had sprouted, leaning its vast shade over the two tiny bodies.  It is a legend that influenced an Oklahoma boy to start writing stories he wanted to read and eventually pen the classic “Where the Red Fern Grows.”  We debut our Red Dirt Chronicles blog with a video trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma to visit the festival that honors Oklahoma author Wilson Rawls.

Rob McClendon


Literary Landmark–Where The Red Fern Grows from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.