"What If..."

Innovation and Creativity in Nebraska

Upcoming Air Times

Good ideas often start with a simple question. "What If?"

Comments, questions, ideas? Contact "What If..." host/producer Mike Tobias at mtobias@netNebraska.org. And follow Mike and the project on Twitter and Facebook.

(Photo: Mike helping the On the Go Gelato team make a batch of gelato!)

#WhatIfNebraska

Nebraskans answer with innovation and creativity. We tell their stories in our NET Television series, "What If..."

"What If…" is an exploration of innovation, creativity, invention and discovery," says "What If..." host and producer Mike Tobias. "Stories about interesting Nebraskans with interesting ideas in a wide range of areas, like university research, entrepreneurship, education, economic development and more. It’s a great project because we’re having fun and challenging ourselves creatively to tell these stories in a way that takes you inside the worlds and minds of these innovators."

Here's what you'll see in each "What If..." episode:

  • Season 2, Episode 1 - Chasing tornadoes with the largest-ever drone-based severe weather research project; meet an experimental music composer/teacher/performer; and how a candle entrepreneur bounced back from failure. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 2 - How a farmer raises soybeans...and shrimp; meet two young Albion farmers putting new ideas into old dirt; scientists looking at corn roots in different ways; and entrepreneurial high school girls who started their own gelato business. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 3 - A rural entrepreneur making leg braces for injured dogs; restoration of a 1880s painting; watch SpiderCam in action; and how a remote school district creatively adapted to remote learning. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 4 - Explore the nation's first tech library; a bike/coffee shop helping kids aging out of foster care; and a unique development working to end poverty in north Omaha. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 1, Episode 1 - Ord's leaders thinking differently about economic development; UNO's cutting-edge biomechanics research; kid composer Winston Schneider; and a rural couple breathing new life into old churches. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 1, Episode 2 - Cutting edge tech that's changing health care education at UNMC; "FitBits" monitoring cattle health; helping people living in poverty learn to cook, garden and meal plan; and new ideas about how and where people work at Flywheel. (WATCH HERE)

Innovator Insights

What drives Nebraska’s innovators, big thinkers, risk takers? How do they think? What influences them? What have they learned from? What’s next? We explore this in a separate “What If…” project component, designed for a high school/college age target audience, called “Innovator Insights.”

Watch "Innovator Insights" videos (including versions with Spanish-language captions, and access viewing guides and discussion questions for educators, on the NET PBS Learning Media site.


"What If..." Music

"What If..." celebrates innovation and creativity. So in our stories we showcase original music, submitted for use in the project by a wide range Nebraska composers (like Jaymeson Pon and Krista Connelly).

  • CLICK HERE for a listing of the songs and composers from each "What If..." story
  • Submission details: Nebraska composers of all ages and levels; finished music with no lyrics and at least 30 seconds long; WAV format, 48K, 24 bit stereo; and all styles and multiple submissions are welcome! Composers of music will not be paid, but will be notified and credited while the piece is being used in a segment, during end credits and on the “What If...” web site.
  • Send your original music (and any questions) to "What If..." producer/host Mike Tobias at mtobias@netNebraska.org

"What If..." Stories

Through focuses on housing, education and programs, the unique Highlander project is try to break the cycle of poverty in north Omaha. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska... more››
Do Space, Omaha’s groundbreaking tech library, is seeking to bridge the digital divide. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http://netNebraska.org/WhatIf #... more››
How the Bike Union and Coffee in Omaha, Neb., helps young adults transitioning out of foster care. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http://netNebraska.org/... more››
How teachers, parents and students in rural Mullen, NE creatively adapted to remote educate after COVID-19 closed schools. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at:... more››
We're following restoration of an 1880s-era painting of the first homestead through different steps of work at the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and... more››
How the unique Spidercam tool helps University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers study corn, soybeans and other crops. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http://... more››
Cancer started Ben Blecha's journey to being an entrepreneur whose Benkelman, NE company, Hero Braces, makes leg braces for injured dogs. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in... more››
Matt and Joe Brugger say they're "putting new ideas on old dirt" at Upstream Farms near Albion, where they produce cattle and corn....but also hops and whiskey. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation... more››
See how UNL professor Ed Cahoon and Center for Root and Rhizobiome team are studying maize roots in many different ways. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http... more››
Scott Pretzer raises soybeans, corn...and fresh shrimp. How Rock Creek Aquaculture near Diller, NE got started producing this unlikely product. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in... more››
Learn about On the Go Gelato, a business started by high school students in Bassett, NE that's serving gelato and "girl power." This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More... more››
Spend a day chasing tornadoes with TORUS, a massive, UNL-led severe weather research effort. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http://netNebraska.org/WhatIf #... more››
After early failures, how Lincoln, NE entrepreneur Sarah Spitsen created Feya Candle Company. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http://netNebraska.org/WhatIf #... more››
Meet Omaha composer, performer and educator Stacey Barelos and learn about her passions for experimental music. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and creativity in Nebraska. More at: http://... more››
UNL Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program Director Tom Field talks about entrepreneurs, during a "Spirit of Nebraska's Entrepreneurs" Panel that was part of the 2020 Governor's Ag Conference in Kearney. Segment is part of... more››
Entrepreneurs discuss pros and cons of starting a business in Nebraska, during a "Spirit of Nebraska's Entrepreneurs" Panel that was part of the 2020 Governor's Ag Conference in Kearney. Segment is part of the "What If..."... more››
Tells the story of one school district’s transition to remote learning because of COVID-19. This new 30 minute NET Radio documentary is part of the NET “What If…” project on innovation and creativity in Nebraska
A Small Town “Thinking Differently”: How the leaders of Ord started working together and “thinking differently” about economic development, including creating a unique leadership program. This story is part of "What If..." a... more››
Biomechanics Research: UNO’s first-of-its-kind Biome¬chanics Research Building and cutting edge research is studying human motion and helping people with conditions that restrict movement. This story is part of "What If..." a... more››
Winston Schneider is just a typical Omaha fifth grader who likes Legos, insects, Star Wars…and composing classical music. This year he won the National Association for Music Education composer’s competition for his piece, “... more››
During an interview for our "What If..." series on innovation and creativity, we gave young Omaha composer Winston Schneider four notes. This is the full song he composed "on-the-fly" from that starting point. Watch our story on... more››
Denise and Paul Augustyn are breathing new life into old Catholic churches using things like PVC pipe and styrofoam to replicate marble and other more expensive materials. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring... more››
iEXCEL: cutting edge 3D, VR and other simulation technology at UNMC is changing health education and improving the preparation of health care professionals. This story is part of "What If..." a program exploring innovation and... more››
Quantified Ag: Called a “FitBit for Cows,” high tech ear tags created by a Lincoln company and founder Vishal Singh make it easier for cattle producers to monitor animal health. This story is part of "What If..." a program... more››
Growing Great Beginnings: A unique Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties program is helping people living in poverty learn to cook, meal plan and grow their own food. This story is part of "What If... more››
Changing the Workplace: Omaha web hosting start-up Flywheel is changing how and where people work, with dogs in the workplace to beer coolers to tearing down walls and different attitudes and ideas about what a workplace should... more››

"What If... Innovator Insights"

This segment features Cassie Lapaseotes, Lapaseotes Feed Yard manager, Bridgeport, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos with... more››
This segment features Tina Diaz-Ciechomski, entrepreneur and owner of Future Construction Specialties in Omaha, NE. Innovator... more››
This segment features Garry Clark, executive director of the Greater Fremont Development Council in Fremont, NE. Innovator... more››
This segment features Ben Blecha, entrepreneur and founder of Hero Braces in Benkelman, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
Short videos with innovators and creators answering questions about things like influences, passions and mistakes. Advice for a... more››
This segment features Jeff Slobotski, entrepreneur and Millwork Commons developer in Omaha, NE. Innovator Insights are short... more››
This segment features Sarah Spitsen, founder of Feya Candles in Lincoln, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos with innovators... more››
This segment features Stacey Barelos, composer, performer and educator from Omaha, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos with... more››
This segment features Mailani Veney, CEO of Kana Systems in Lincoln, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos with innovators and... more››
This segment features Mullen (NE) High School science teacher Sarah Hardin. Innovator Insights are short videos with innovators... more››
This segment features the On the Go Gelato team from Rock County High School in Bassett, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos... more››
This segment features Scott Pretzer, founder of Rock Creek Aquaculture in Diller, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos with... more››
This segment features Cydney Franklin, President and CEO of Seventy North Revitalization Corp. in Omaha. Innovator Insights are... more››
This segment features Joseph and Matthew Brugger of Upstream Farms near Albion, NE. Innovator Insights are short videos with... more››