National Geographic is a magazine and a television channel, but it's also something that will come to your town and let you ask questions of the people who populate the pages and airtime of those beloved entities.
That's the aim of National Geographic Live, which comes to Spokane for the first time for a four-part series that begins next week and concludes in April. The first installment features longtime underwater photojournalist David Doubilet and biologist and photographer Jennifer Hayes, a duo responsible for some of the most iconic marine life photos to ever run in the magazine.
Andy van Duym, the vice president of National Geographic Live, calls these presenters "explorers" and says they give curious audiences something that can't come across through a magazine article or a TV show.
"It's almost like sitting down with someone around the campfire and hearing the stories from the mouth of a person who's had these amazing experiences," says van Duym of the series, which has now appeared in more than 20 different U.S. cities.
In the coming months, other presentations — which include slide shows, video and other multimedia elements — include a NASA engineer discussing the exploration of Mars on Nov. 4, a wildlife photographer on Feb. 24 and a pair of Antarctic explorers on April 21. These explorers, van Duym says, are never short on anecdotes to share.
"Many of these people spend months and months on assignment in remote places sometimes, and under very tough conditions sometimes," he says. "Then they come back to civilization and they want to share their hard-won experiences."
The audience isn't just being talked at — they get to ask questions of the explorers, many of whom have been places or seen things that very few other humans have experienced.
"The one thing that people say after they come out is that they feel empowered and inspired. They want us to take them somewhere," says van Duym. "Our job is to bring that mystery."
National Geographic Live: Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice • Tue, Oct. 7, at 7 pm • $41.50, $150/all four shows • INB Performing Arts Center • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • inbpac.com