“Antiques Roadshow” essentially launched the appraisal genre in reality TV, meaning shows like “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” owe much of their success to it. The PBS show has been running since 1979, helping countless people learn the value and in-depth history of their heirlooms (or not), plus sharing many of those stories with the world.
Marsha Bemko, executive producer of the ‘Roadshow, loves these stories.
“The real value that we get in these personal stories on our roadshow is the insight into our humanity,” Bemko said. “Whatever culture you come from, you treasure your things, no matter where your parents came from. We’re all the same that way — only some of us have better stuff than others.”
She’s been involved with the show since the early 2000s and has seen numerous shifts, from pieces of Victorian furniture dropping in value to collectibles and comic books rising. Bemko also helped the TV program change filming venues from convention centers to historical, outdoor parts of the cities they visit.
“It especially looks better in the television frame,” Bemko said. “Spending your day, because it’s a long day, out there versus in the convention center, where you go in and it’s dark and you come out and it’s dark. It’s like ‘Where did the day go?’ It’s a better way to work and a much more pleasant experience for our guests.”
The Idaho Botanical Garden is next on their list. As part of their 27th season airing in 2023, the roadshow is visiting five cities: Nashville, Tennessee on May 10; Boise, Idaho on May 31; Sante Fe, New Mexico on June 22; and Woodside, California on July 12. Many people signed up for the Boise event in the last few months, with thousands picked. It was last held here in 2013, the actual show debuted in 2014.
This is a pre-reserved show — you can’t just show up for it. Many have tossed their hats in the ring for the past few months in order to get a chance to show their wares. For those not lucky enough to snag a spot, you can watch your fellow Boiseans on the show next year.
“As evidence as to how much enthusiasm Boise has for us, for the 2000 pairs of tickets that we gave out to the main applicant pool, which is the lottery, we had 10,465 applicants,” Bemko said. “Then for the KOSO division, we had 17,143 for about a dozen people we picked for that.”
KOSO stands for Knock Our Socks Off. In this contest, people send a brief description of their item, its story and pictures, and Bemko and others choose the winners.
Bemko, herself, has forged many friendships with the appraisers and has learned much from them.
“You just don’t know what you’re gonna find,” Bemko said “But it’s always going to be interesting and something to learn from. The side benefit is we get to do a public service for those who come … hopefully, give them some information that they didn’t have before they came.”