Catching up with public broadcaster/documentary filmmaker Dave Iverson

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on October 3, 2012

Public broadcaster and Menlo Park resident Dave Iverson

Dave Iverson is busy — no surprise to those who know him. Given that it’s October, he’s in training to run his second New York Marathon next month. He’s “chipping away” at a film that spotlights a group of dancers who have Parkinson’s disease and their work with the Mark Morris Dance Group. He continues his duties at KQED, hosting the Friday Forum, and, occasionally, does a little acting. A documentary about San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and his son was broadcast earlier this year

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004 — his father and brother also had the same degenerative neurological disorder and Dave made a documentary in 2009, My Father, My Brother and Me, that interweaves their stories — he’s become involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and will be running the New York road race not only to raise money for the Foundation but to recruit volunteers for clinical trials.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I still do — my symptoms are mild,” he says. “In working with the Fox Foundation, I can use the skills I’ve learning about story telling. It’s not so much that I’ve adopted Parkinson’s as part of my identity. I still feel I’m first a broadcaster and filmmaker, but I’m equally passionate about advancing the cause of Parkinson’s research.

“There is a huge need for people to volunteer  to take part in clinical trials. 85% of research studies are not deployed because there are not enough volunteers, who can be people who have Parkinson or who are disease free.”

Dave’s goal for this year’s marathon, which will be run on Nov. 4, is $3,000 in donations — he’s well on his way —  and to get 100 people to volunteer to participate in research. People who are interested in doing the latter can register online at the Fox Trial Finder where they can also make a donation.

Dave’s been back in Menlo Park for the last 5 years, returning to care for his mother who is now 104, in the house where he was raised. He’s both a Hillview School and Menlo-Atherton High School alum and also a graduate of Stanford.

“I spent most of my professional life in the Midwest and am not necessarily a gung ho Bay Area guy,” he says. “I do look back at a couple of very influential teachers at M-A. Judy Davis encouraged me to write. Joe Milia did a wonderful job of teaching U.S. history. At the end of the year, he asked the class what he thought he was teaching us. He said, “I have one goal, I want you to question things.’ I’ve always remembered that.”

At home, he’s set himself up in the office his father used for many years. While the 50s/60s vintage furnishings  remain, the Emmy Dave won for PBS documentary The 30 Second Candidate is symbolic of the present and the many accolades he’s received over the course of his broadcasting career.

“I like to quote Michael J. Fox,” Dave says. ‘In acting there’s a rule,’ he says, ‘ you can’t play the result. You have to play the scene you’re in.’ That’s what you have to do with – whether you have Parkinson’s or some other disease or are healthy. You have be in the moment.”

Photo by Irene Searles

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