TV Host Finds Eastern Shore to His Liking in New Series

Television host Dave Parker, right, films Tangier Mayor Ooker Eskridge for an episode of the new PBS travel program "Virginia Found." Photo courtesy of Dave Parker.

By Carol Vaughn —

The Eastern Shore is featured in two episodes of a new PBS television travel and culinary series called “Virginia Found.”

The first season focuses on the eastern part of the state.

The episode about the southern part of the Eastern Shore, featuring Cape Charles and surrounding areas, will air on WHRO Friday, Sept. 17 at 8:30 p.m.

It includes segments about a Southeast Expeditions kayaking winery trip to Chatham Vineyards, world-class golf courses, a range of lodging options, and beaches.

The show’s host stayed at Bay Haven Inn, in Cape Charles, and got to know innkeeper Tammy Holloway during filming for the episode.

“I was so taken with the Cape Charles area that my wife and I had a … conversation — you know, that is somewhere we would want to live,” said host Dave Parker, who lives in Virginia Beach.

An episode about the northern part of the Eastern Shore, featuring Chincoteague, Onancock, and Tangier, airs Friday, Sept. 24, at 8:30 p.m.

The episode includes segments about Chincoteague’s Pony Penning, oyster and clam aquaculture featuring Tom’s Cove Aquafarms, crabbing, a sunset cruise, and a trip to Tangier, including chats with resident Jamie Crockett and Mayor Ooker Eskridge.

“Virginia Found” also will be available for streaming on WHRO.

Parker takes viewers across Virginia to explore the people, places, and food that make the state special. He is a native Virginian who has a quick wit and a knack for finding the right people to interview to tell a locality’s story.

“A big theme of the Eastern Shore episodes, certainly Tangier, is seafood and waterman culture,” Parker said.

For urban viewers in particular, “when you go to the Eastern Shore, really you feel like you are getting away. It is truly a unique part of our state,” he said, adding, “After watching these episodes, hopefully those are things that will make people want to explore the area.”

Parker is a familiar face and voice in Hampton Roads. He has worked in television, radio, and print media for more than three decades, including as former chief meteorologist at WTKR and columnist for Coastal Virginia Magazine.

He currently is program director for country radio station US106.1.

Joni Carter, who co-produced the series with Parker, said Parker shoots all the footage for the shows himself, including of Chincoteague’s famous Pony Penning, shot before the pandemic caused the event’s cancellation in 2020 and 2021.

“In TV, they call it a one-man band,” Parker said, adding there are advantages and disadvantages to his method.

Among disadvantages is that he can not monitor everything as it’s being filmed.

“The advantage I’ve found is people are not intimidated as much when it’s just me,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in postponement of the show’s premiere, as people were not able to travel due to lockdowns. Parker had to go back later to update some segments, Carter said.

Among activities he participated in for the show was a sailboat cruise out of Onancock and a ukulele festival in Cape Charles, among other highlights of the Eastern Shore episodes, according to Carter.

The culinary segments are among the favorites of Carter, who described herself as an oyster lover.

“Once people see this, they will probably want to go” find and eat the foods highlighted in the programs.

Television host Dave Parker chows down on a crab cake at Hilda Crockett’s restaurant on Tangier during an episode of the new PBS travel documentary series, “Virginia Found.” Photo courtesy of Dave Parker.

Parker and Carter typically start with a loose outline of an itinerary for each episode, which sometimes changes as Parker discovers fascinating people and places along the way.

“It is amazing how willing people are to open their doors, be conversational, when you tell people you are doing a show for PBS. … People trust it,” he said.

Parker said the show’s pace is not the typical pace of a public television documentary.

“I wanted it to be more reflective of the media that people are now consuming — and I think that has changed a lot,” he said, adding, “I don’t want it to look polished, and it certainly doesn’t — and that’s by design. I want it to look like it’s just me and a camera roaming around.”

Other episodes in season one feature Yorktown, Gloucester, and Lancaster and Middlesex counties.

Episode one, about Yorktown and Gloucester, aired Friday Sept. 3 on WHRO and will be available to stream.

The second episode, featuring coastal communities of the Rappahannock River, airs Friday, Sept. 10.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission worked with producers on the Shore episodes.

Businesses throughout the Shore played a role in putting the episodes together, according to a press release.

The tourism commission is among the show’s sponsors, ensuring two, 15-second advertisements featuring the Eastern Shore are shown anywhere the series is aired in the future, according to the release.

In addition to WHRO, WBRA-Blue Ridge PBS and WETA-Washington area PBS will air the four-part series in September.

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