Everyone has a voice. But not everyone gets heard. And that’s what Rick Dancer who co-founded PNW Back Stories along with his wife, Kathy, is changing about our world.
Capturing and sharing real stories about real people throughout America’s rural Pacific Northwest (and beyond!), Rick and Kathy travel about the countryside, camera in hand, giving stage to voices that likely would not be heard. And, in some cases, voices otherwise ignored.
People are listening. Tens of thousands of them, in fact, follow their live video-streamed stories just to hear who is speaking—and what they have to say. It’s not long before these followers know why. Rick and Kathy focus on the hidden gems in rural society, people often behind the scenes or quietly innovating, offering immense yet oft-overlooked value in our world. The duo is committed to giving these folks the microphone and, suddenly, thousands of people are there, listening, noticing and learning. Why? They connect with and appreciate hearing something of value from the everyday person. That’s who most of us are after all.
The inspiration behind PNW Back Stories started over two decades ago when Rick, a television journalist/news anchor covered an in-depth series on ghost towns. Exploring quiet little towns and connecting with intriguing characters fueled his journey and reporting. Years later, after surviving cancer and a narrowly lost election for Oregon Secretary of State, Rick found himself even more inspired than ever to spotlight the wonderful people in our world. Many were those he’d met in 26 counties he visited along the political trail. For him, people everywhere held and continue to hold the answers to so many of life’s challenges. Problem is, many—particularly those not living in media-saturated urban markets—were never heard. Yet today, they have something to say, something to share…and Rick never stopped listening or caring.
Intense, curious and deeply passionate about the PNW Back Stories concept, Rick discovered his best business partner in his wife. Together, the two make a perfect team as Rick taps his journalistic talents while Kathy—an amazing mom and, previously, a travel agent—has come to use her unique skills and voice in a truly authentic way. Thoughtful and reflective, Kathy connects with the people profiled, sources soulful rural destinations to explore, and brings her love for recreation and the outdoors into the stories and places they promote. Both Rick and Kathy don’t just tell stories, they help create communities among their audiences.
Years in the making, PNW Back Stories rebranded and relaunched itself in the midst of what some might call “chaos.” When the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Rick and Kathy realized now—more so than ever—was the time to get people’s stories out. And, more importantly, the stories and solutions of people who know best how to survive: the people of rural America.
Thanks to sponsors and other incredible contributors, they travel the back roads of the Pacific Northwest, covering everything from cowboys to carwashes, entrepreneurs to entertainers, and restaurants to ranches. As the saying goes, no stone goes unturned, or at least that’s the hope.
More importantly, every live story they share meets a litmus test: real. Rick and Kathy give voice to real people, real solutions, and real success. Authenticity is everything. One PNW Back Story at a time.