Ninety-nine episodes ago, Karen Sunderman found herself with a unique vantage point. She was on stage at Pizza Luce behind a bearded bluegrass band that hadn't quite busted out to Letterman level.
Trampled by Turtles still played while seated in those pre-"Palomino" days, so Sunderman was able to capture with camera the way an audience can crush up against a stage. Meanwhile, her co-workers were working angles from the back of the room, by the pizza window and close to the stage -- each with a body guard to protect the cameras.
The result, a 50-minute concert special, remains one of her favorite episodes of "The PlayList."
"They had no reason to say yes," Sunderman said of the band that allowed an unknown, untested TV program full access.
In the past four years, plenty of other artists have followed suit.
Sunderman & Co. hit a milestone today when the 100th episode of "The PlayList" airs at 9 p.m. on WDSE-TV. The program will feature the Minnesota Ballet's fall premiere of "Recurrent Stages," a piece by artistic director Robert Gardner with original music by composer Ryan Homsey.
"We're still here. That's really great," Sunderman said. "It does make you think of ... this is what we've accomplished together. This isn't about us, it's about the creative community.
"I'm just the vehicle."
"The PlayList" premiered in 2010, funded by the Arts & Heritage fund, which stipulated that the money be used for new programming. The past five seasons have found the crew capturing the work of thousands of artists, traveling more than 3,000 miles a year to find the potters, actors, painters and musicians of the Arrowhead region.
Public television, at its best, is about serving the community, program director Julie Kellner said.
"'The PlayList' works to reflect the creative and range of our arts community," she said. "We're glad 'The PlayList' is making viewer members aware of what's out there. What there is to do and see in the arts in our own region."
The show has featured competitive plein air painting -- it won an Emmy Award for that one -- and competitive jigsaw puzzling. It has featured Trampled by Turtles, Charlie Parr and Low. (Parr, for the record, has had the most online views).
The show started as a live program, but has since gone to recorded segments. On Monday, "The PlayList" hosted a studio audience and three live bands: Breanne Marie & the Front Porch Sinners, Aurora Baer and Brothers Burn Mountain. Those segments will air later this year.
Musician Matt Mobley is among the show's few repeat performers. The bass player has performed with a handful of jazz musicians, including Randy Lee, Southwire, Hattie Peterson, Mary Bue, Coyote and Two Many Banjos. Most bands sign a wall in the studio. Mobley, the joke goes, just adds a hash mark to his name.
"You're sitting there waiting to play and the producer is literally counting down," he said. "It's like, 'Whoa. This is cool.'?"
Mayor Don Ness counts himself as a fan. Sunderman and the team do a fantastic job, he said.
"It's wonderful to see artists of our region featured in such a high-
quality format," Ness said. "?'The PlayList' both celebrates the talent we have right now and vibrantly documents the strength of today's art community for future generations to appreciate."
When: Airs at 9 p.m. today, WDSE-PBS 8/WRPT-PBS 31; replays at 11 p.m. today and 8 p.m. Friday