Skip to main content

Eight, Arizona PBS nerds out at Phoenix Comicon

portrait of Mike Rugnetta
May 07, 2014

Here’s an idea. Eight, Arizona PBS joins forces with Phoenix Comicon to bring two educational panels to Southwest’s preeminent pop-culture event, June 5-8 at Phoenix Convention Center.

Making its first-ever appearance at Phoenix Comicon, Eight has partnered with PBS Digital Studios and Webby Award-winning host Mike Rugnetta to discuss how online-original programming like the popular PBS Idea Channel fulfill public media’s community service charter in an era where communities increasingly engage online. Rugnetta will be joined by Lauren Saks, director of programming for PBS Digital Studios.

“PBS Digital Studios is delighted to be participating in Phoenix Comicon alongside our public media partners at Eight, Arizona PBS,” said Saks. “PBS Digital Studios and series such as PBS Idea Channel are building highly engaged communities online who love to discuss and celebrate popular culture. We look forward to connecting with the smart, passionate audience at Comicon.”

Rugnetta will also be on hand to meet Idea Channel fans at 7:30 p.m., June 5. Details including registration information will be posted at

Eight’s second appearance will contribute to a discussion exploring how the PBS Sherlock phenomenon provides an illustration of how participatory culture and digital media are changing the way we learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. The discussion will launch with a history of Sherlock pastiche and fandom, examining its connection to the digital media and learning movement, a pedagogical approach geared to make education more powerful for all students by creating more opportunities for youth to engage in learning that is relevant to their lives and prepares them for success in school, the workplace and their community.

This panel, taking place at 10:30 a.m., June 6 will feature Dawn Opel, a doctoral student and teaching assistant in Arizona State University's Department of English. Her research focuses on the intersection between digital media, leisure reading practices and literary fandom.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the folks at Phoenix Comicon for inviting us to be a part of the education track at this event,” says Bob Beard, promotions and events coordinator at Eight, Arizona PBS. “Part of our mission at Arizona PBS is to inspire lifelong learning, and at Comicon there’s no shortage of enthusiasm or inspiration. Whether it’s engineering your own mech suit, obsessing over cosmology or attempting to out-sleuth 'Sherlock,' there’s a process of inquiry happening throughout and we’re happy to help facilitate that.”

Eight, Arizona PBS will also make a special announcement at Phoenix Comicon in anticipation of its fourth annual PBS Nerd Walk.

Additionally, public media crusaders at the convention will have an opportunity to receive a limited edition PBS Nerd button, exclusively presented at Phoenix Comicon. Eight also encourages everyone equipped in everything from spandex to swords to collect a classic PBS Nerd t-shirt for a sustaining donation to Eight, Arizona PBS, in support of its public programming, community events and educational initiatives.

For more information visit and

PBS Digital Studios creates high-quality, short-form original video content for digital platforms such as YouTube. PBS Digital Studios is working with dozens of PBS member stations to develop local online originals that extend their work beyond broadcast. The PBS Digital Studios network of more than 30 original series is available on YouTube at

Media contact:

Colleen O’Donnell Pierce,
602-478-3867 (cell)