For 18 years, Idaho Public Television General Manager Ron Pisaneschi tried to get Antiques Roadshow to come to Boise. He finally got the call around this time last year.
"It was from the president of Boston [Public Broadcasting]. He said, 'Ron, you'll get all the details from the staff, but I want to let you know that Boise is going to be chosen for the summer tour.'" said Pisaneschi. "We were just absolutely over the moon."
Six months later, the show's 18-wheeler rolled into Idaho for the first time. On June 29, 2013, more than 5,000 hardcore antiquers and thrift store aficionados presented their dolls, books, violin cases and exotic art to the show's star appraisers.
On Jan. 6 at 7 p.m., Antique Roadshow's 18th season premieres with Boise. The show boasts an average 8 million-10 million viewers every Monday night, making it the most-watched show on public television.
Pisaneschi said the production team usually starts the season with a city that has something particularly spectacular. Turns out, Boise had the most valuable item of the season--an oil-painted Italian landscape by Hudson River artist Sanford Robinson Gifford.
The painting--filthy and living in the owner's basement for the past 50 years--was valued at $300,000.
But the Gem State brought forth a myriad of other intriguing objects: a first edition of the Book of Mormon circa 1833; a 1955 Madoura plate designed by Pablo Picasso that previously hung above a stove collecting grease; and a 1974 signed George Nakashima end table, sold by Nakashima himself.
On that sweltering Saturday back in June, Idaho Public Television supplied the production crew with 130 volunteers to help wrangle guests and sort them by object: books, collectables, silver and more.
Some people left feeling ecstatic; others left feeling disappointed or even offended. Boise Weekly caught up with one grandfatherly Indiana Jones-looking man who stormed away after hearing his pocket-sized Peruvian sculptures were only replicas.
"I've had three renowned archaeologists and pre-Mayan experts look at them, and they all confirmed they're real," he said without stopping.
Pisaneschi thought that was half the fun of the event--he was surprised by which objects were worth a lot, and sometimes even more surprised by which weren't. He also enjoyed getting to meet many appraisers he's watched since the show first aired almost 20 years ago.
"All the appraisers came to Idaho on their own dime," Pisaneschi said. "They don't get paid. That's how public TV works. But we heard they had a fun time. They kept saying how everyone here was so nice."
Getting Antiques Roadshow to come to Boise wasn't even a possibility until a few years ago. The show has traditionally required a host city to have a facility of 100,000 square feet under one roof. That doesn't exist in Idaho, and they couldn't do the taping in a stadium setting like the Taco Bell Arena or the Idaho Center. But when the production team tried a smaller venue and it worked, show organizers decided to include one such small-staged stop each year. In 2013, they picked Boise.
The first three episodes of the season all take place in Boise, showcasing the Egyptian Theatre, the Old Idaho State Penitentiary and the Boise Art Museum. After that, the televised treasure hunt continues in Detroit, Mich.; Baton Rouge, La.; Kansas City, Mo.; Anaheim, Calif., Richmond, Va.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Knoxville, Tenn.
Pisaneschi said Antiques Roadshow's visit has already been hugely positive for Idaho Public Television.
"We know there's lots of new supporters to the station because of it," he said.