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Pillars of Public Television

The 2015 Public Media Summit highlighted Pillars of Public Television.
These photos show our stations' work.

Public television stations share three public service missions in common: education, public safety and civic leadership. These three pillars of public service are the foundation of our appeal for public funding from both federal and state governments, and support for these missions has been demonstrated across the political spectrum. In keeping with the new APTS strategic plan, Greater Success Through Greater Service, we are pleased to highlight at the 2015 Public Media Summit several noteworthy examples of innovative public service within our station community. These and other public service success stories will be curated for the use of our stations in a new What Works Clearinghouse, being developed in coordination with the PBS Station Management Center. It is our hope – and our plan – that such examples of success will inspire and instruct every public television station in the essential work of public service that is key to continued public investment in our system.

Below are examples of our stations’ best work, based on the three pillars of education, public safety and civic leadership.

Alabama Public Television Arkansas Educational Television Network Public Broadcasting Atlanta
Detroit Public Broadcasting Iowa Public Television KBYU Salt Lake City
KCPT -  Kansas City Public Television KCTS 9 Seattle KET - Kentucky Educational Network
KETC St. Louis/Nine Network of Public Media KPBS San Diego KQED San Francisco - Public Media for Northern California
Maryland Public Television Milwaukee Public Television PBS39 WLVT Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton
South Carolina ETV ValleyPBS, Fresno Vegas PBS
WFIU/WTIU Bloomington WGBH Boston WHRO Public Media Norfolk
Wisconsin Public Television WHUT - Washington D.C. WLIW Long Island/New York
WNET Thirteen WPBT2 South Florida WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh
WTVP Peoria WXXI Rochester  


Alabama Public Television
Roy Clem, Executive Director

 Alabama Public Television’s Project C: Lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement is a series of live interactive electronic field trips on the role of citizenship in a democracy, and presented in the context of the movement. Teachers are trained to use an accompanying issues guide produced with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. To date, nearly one million U.S. and international students have participated in the Project C electronic field trips.

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Allen Weatherly, Executive Director

The Arkansas Educational Television Network produced (AETN) "108°: Critical Response" in response to Act 1214 of 2011, which requires that coaches complete training in heat-related illness. The production, created at first for professional development, addresses the dangers of heat illness in high school sports. Because of its life-saving information, it was also broadcast and posted online with a toolkit to educate parents and families, and shared with all state libraries.

AETN also works side-by-side with the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) to provide teachers with the largest, free, quality, online, ADE-approved professional development and educational resources for K-12 educators through ArkansasIDEAS, which hosts more than 55,000 registered users. Including all courses offered, more than one million credit hours have been earned.

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Milton Clipper, President & CEO
Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s Homework Hotline provides free, one-on-one assistance over the phone and online to grades K-12, in core subject areas. There is also a Spanish-language tutor who translates and assists students in all subjects. Tutors are Board-certified teachers from Atlanta Public Schools and student tutors are provided by Morehouse College.
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Rich Homberg, President and CEO
WTVS is proud of its work in civic leadership and education. As part of its ongoing commitment to veterans in Michigan, Detroit Public Television (DPTV) has been collecting veterans’ stories on video at high-profile events. In 2014, DPTV developed a series of Hiring 101 videos designed to break down barriers and teach civilian hiring managers the value of veterans as employees.

What if you turned a statewide student competition into a variety sport, bringing television, sports announcers and play-by-play energy? DPTV did just that with its FIRST Robotics Competition, a six-hour webcast and primetime special reaching 44 states, 16 countries and 9,000+ on-demand video views. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder called it a “rock show.”

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Molly M. Phillips, Executive Director & General Manager

Each year, Iowa Public Television (IPTV) selects 25 Iowa communities to develop collaborative efforts to improve economically disadvantaged children’s reading and math skills. In two years, IPTV has partnered with an impressive 389 community organizations to bring Ready To Learn resources to more than 37,400 young children.

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Diena L. Simmons, Station Manager
KBYU Eleven and Utah Education Network collaborated with state, education and media partners to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address with GettyReady. This statewide initiative, based on the Ken Burns documentary, encouraged Utahns to memorize and apply the Gettysburg Address. Highlights included students leading over 200,000 Utahns in mass recitations at sporting and cultural events.

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KCPT - Kansas City Public Television
Kliff Kuehl, President & CEO

KCPT meaningfully engages with its community to provide powerful programs on critical issues. Two of these initiatives are Consider the Conversation and Lost Minds. On December 18, KCPT broadcast Consider the Conversation, a documentary on the taboo subject of dying. Through a national/local television event, KCPT chronicled how doctors, patients and family members struggle to communicate and adequately prepare for life’s final journey. KCPT also reached beyond the television screen to put trusted resources in the hands of its viewers, with 535 Consider the Conversation toolkits mailed to viewers’ homes. A total of 61 viewers also participated in a free Consider the Conversation workshop on Saturday, January 24.

KCPT also partnered with a local filmmaker to address the issue of mental illness. Lost Minds: KC’s Mental Health Crisis, examines the issue of people with a serious mental illness who are not in treatment. The story is told from the perspective of the Kansas City Missouri police and Missouri health-care professionals who work together on this vital issue. Prior to the broadcast, KCPT held a community screening with a standing-room-only crowd (on the night of the Royals Playoff game!). The audience was composed of community members, organizations and city government. Following the broadcast, KCPT received numerous letters and requests to use the documentary for individual screenings. Most notably, filmmaker Michael Price was invited to speak at the Missouri House Appropriations Committee on the topic of mental health.

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KCTS Seattle
Robert 'Rob' Dunlop, President & CEO 

KCTS 9’s Golden Apple Awards celebrate educators, programs and schools that make a positive difference in Washington state education. Since 1992, more than 200 award recipients have been featured in TV specials that air statewide. Said one excited teacher, “The Golden Apple is kind of like the Academy Awards for us!”

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KET - Kentucky Educational Network
Shae Hopkins, Executive Director 

KET offers all citizens unparalleled access to the state’s issues, proceedings and elected officials with in-depth public affairs programming. KET hosted the only televised meeting of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate election, attracting both national and international media. KET also provided the first broadcast forum with U.S. Majority Leader McConnell.

Information, inspiration and innovative resources make up KET’s national Adult Education Initiative for dropout re-engagement. A documentary series, Dropping Back In, puts a human face on issues and challenges, raising awareness and sparking community dialogue. Fast Forward, an online high school equivalency learning system, provides accessible, affordable pathways for success.

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John (Jack) Galmiche III, President & CEO

 Nine Network’s civic leadership in addressing vital community issues made it a highly trusted place to make sense of Ferguson. Nine Networks heard the call for conversation and dialogue that illuminate solutions that help us move forward as a region, and responded by aligning its assets as a public media organization to attract the broader community to the conversation.

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Tom Karlo, General Manager

KPBS’ News Team received the Journalist of the Year Award for breaking the story of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s inappropriate behavior toward women. The community’s trust in KPBS led four prominent local women to talk exclusively to the station. KPBS’ coverage became national news, further establishing the station as San Diego’s trusted source for news.

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John Boland, President

KQED is teaching to Twitter with #TeachDoNow, a weekly online activity and collaborative learning experience in partnership with the National Writing Project that enables students to participate in discussions of current issues using social media tools, including Twitter. Additionally, #TeachDoNow teaches educators to use social media to promote civic discourse. More than 250 schools in 28 states are participating, reaching over 18,000 students.

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Maryland Public Television
Larry D. Unger, President and Chief Executive Officer

Maryland Public Television (MPT) has always excelled in civic leadership, from airing programs that promote citizenship to featuring events that actively engage citizens. Now, MPT is undertaking the single-largest civic project in its history – a $2.5 million salute to Maryland Vietnam-era veterans, via a 2016 documentary and weekend event. It’s a thank-you to men and women whose sacrifice in an unpopular war has long gone unheralded. For more information, go to

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Milwaukee Public Television
Ellis Bromberg, General Manager

 For more than a decade, Milwaukee Public Television’s 4th Street Forum is where viewers go for substantive civil conversation on significant community issues. Each week, a knowledgeable and diverse panel – elected officials, CEOs, professors and advocates – explore an important topic, often one given short shrift by other media. The programs are taped for primetime broadcast at locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin, including universities, arts and ecology facilities, and community centers.

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Tim Fallon, CEO

PBS39’s work in civic leadership helped to bring TEDxLehighRiver to the Greater Lehigh Valley on September 27, 2014. PBS39 and other nonprofit and for-profit organizations partnered for a presentation called “Giant Steps,” with eight Lehigh Valley residents delivering talks about their ideas to change the world.                                                                             

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Linda O’Bryon, President & CEO

South Carolina ETV broadcast nine televised debates leading up to primary and general 2014 elections, including races for the U.S. Senate. Underwritten by AARP, the debates featured reporter panelists from eight South Carolina newspapers. Election night coverage broadcast news and analysis, and included Furman students following trending topics on Twitter.

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ValleyPBS, Fresno
Phil Meyer, President and CEO

ValleyPBS’ Ready To Learn workshops are designed to empower parents to confidently step into the role of being their child’s first teacher, utilizing PBS KDS programming, reading together and hands-on activities as teaching tools. Workshops target parents of children pre-K through third grade, and are available in English or Spanish.

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Tom Axtell, General Manager

The marketing of described video and closed-captioned PBS programs led to grants for a statewide Described and Captioned Media Center to serve children. This free lending library includes videos, Braille items, professional development materials, manipulatives and other resources for the deaf and blind. New resources for children with Down syndrome and autism have been added.

Vegas PBS opened a high-stakes testing and workforce-training lab to provide free computer access to individuals completing workforce certification courses, high school equivalency and other exams, and access to job searches. The lab has served 6,811 walk-in clients and 1,948 high-stakes exams, and has had an average of 729 visitors each month since opening.

Vegas PBS, licensed to the Clark County School district, has collected and organized emergency response data including blueprints, crisis plans, evacuation maps, security cameras and other data that is needed during an emergency. They also recently started working with Las Vegas Metro PD to provide similar services. Using datacasting technology over their broadcast television signal, they are able to transmit this incident response data to specifically targeted first responders at the incident scene that have been outfitted with special broadcast data receivers. Vegas PBS also leverages their existing fiber connections, studios, phone banks and other facilities to provide a temporary command post when needed.

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WFIU/WTIU Bloomington
Sara Wittmeyer, WFIU/WTIU News Bureau Chief

WFIU/WTIU’s StateImpact Indiana website is the primary platform for education policy reporting in the state. The site offers everything: video, audio, maps, charts, documents and graphics to give our audience a greater understanding of complicated education topics.

The comprehensive materials include an illustrated teacher’s guide; information on high-quality pre-K; an interactive map of statewide test scores by individual school; a sortable table of campaign donations to both state Senate and House candidates from education-focused organizations that are the key stakeholders in Indiana education; information on tech-savvy teaching and online learning; and a map showing how much money school districts lose to Indiana’s property tax caps.

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Jonathan C. Abbott, President & CEO
WGBH is honored to have garnered an Oscar nomination for its American Experience film “Last Days in Vietnam.” That particular story resonates deeply in communities across the country. To create the broadest dialogue and civic engagement, American Experience released the film widely, and is collaborating with StoryCorps with the help of local stations to collect oral histories from Vietnamese Americans and Vietnam War veterans.

WGBH- Boston is helping Massachusetts Emergency Management (MEMA) share data and video during emergencies. After the Boston Marathon bombing data sharing breakdowns were highlighted. WGBH now enables MEMA to share helicopter and other video, weather and incident response data and notifications to specifically targeted responders in the field.

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Bert Schmidt, President & CEO

With 146,000 registered users and 110,000 learning objects, eMediaVA™ is Virginia’s premier statewide digital media distribution system featuring the best educational content from prominent organizations including PBS, NPR, Virginia Department of Education, Old Dominion University, Colonial Williamsburg, Science Museum of Virginia, NASA, Virginia’s public media stations, SAS and many more.

Sponsored by Thomas Nelson Community College and now in its eighth year, WHRO broadcasts and streams live the annual Virginian-Pilot Spelling Bee, featuring over 70 of the region’s finest middle school champions competing for prizes and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

For 20 years, WHRO has been a major sponsor of the Annual Virginia Children’s Festival in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2014, over 20,000 parents and their children enjoyed main-stage performances by Sesame Street’s Elmo and Maria, costume characters Daniel Tiger and Super Why, and transmedia demonstrations at the WHRO booth.

In 2015, WHRO celebrates the 30th Annual Great Computer Challenge, in which hundreds of K-12 students from across eastern Virginia come together at Old Dominion University to demonstrate their computer application and programming skills in Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing, Music Composition, Web Design, CAD, JAVA Programming, Video Editing and more.

Since 2007, WHRO has created 22 core curriculum, textbook independent, teacher-led, rich-media infused, online courses including Algebra; Biology; Chemistry; Earth Science; English (9-12); Economics and Personal Finance; Geometry; Health/PE 9 and 10; Physics; U.S. History; Government; World Geography; World History and more, saving schools millions of dollars in development costs. 

As Hampton Roads’ veterans make the transition out of the military, they are met with insurmountable hurdles as they readjust to civilian life. WHRO’s Veterans Coming Home initiative shares individuals’ powerful personal inspirational journeys and provides crucial connections to comprehensive services, so veterans and their families can achieve the life they deserve.

New Online Workforce Training –

WHRO launched, offering 3,500 affordable online courses in 19 industries that prepare high school to adult students for industry certifications and career advancement. WHRO is also creating 21 courses for workplace readiness certification training; the first five will be available in 2015.

WHRO-Norfolk, VA is delivering secure encrypted school safety data to specifically targeted responders at multiple colleges and universities in the Hampton Roads area.

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Malcolm Brett, General Manager

 “Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams” is a documentary film and statewide community engagement project that celebrates the accomplishments of civil rights leader Vel Phillips. The project sparks conversations about equity and civil rights in the 21st century via school curriculum, free engagement kits and community events. Learn more at

‚Ä®Wisconsin Public Television is leading stations around the country in this effort to engage and support veterans in their successful transition to civilian life. Stations are collaborating with community-based partners to share veterans’ stories, deepen civilian understanding, and connect veterans with civilian skills, jobs and critical resources to support their transition. Veterans Coming Home is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Jefferi K. Lee, General Manager

WHUT-Washington, D.C. works with the U.S. Park Police and other law enforcement agencies to improve data and security video sharing, especially during large crowd events that cripple the cell networks. All first-responder content is encrypted and can be targeted to individual users, or groups within law enforcement.

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Diane Masciale, General Manager
In an effort to extend the impact of the MMG Content Sharing Initiative, WLIW launched SciTech Now, a weekly magazine-style program and multimedia platform that cover the entire spectrum of science, technology, and innovation news and insight. The program highlights topics including STEM education, teaching girls to code, and exploring math and science museums.

After former New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away on January 1, WLIW’s weekly public affairs show, MetroFocus, looked back at his childhood, his Italian family, his baseball career and his extraordinary political career in excerpts from an interview taped in October 2013 for a new local documentary, Italian-Americans of New York and New Jersey.

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WNET Thirteen
Neal Shapiro, President & CEO

WNET Thirteen produced a national education initiative – American Graduate Day 2014 – that garnered participation from 110 stations across the country. American Graduate Day was a live, all-day multiplatform broadcast that leveraged the power, reach and trust of public media to raise awareness of the high school dropout crisis. The program also celebrated the 150-plus invaluable champions across the country, working to keep all children on the successful path to graduation. 

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WPBT2 South Florida
Dolores Sukhdeo, President and CEO 

WPBT2 created the marine science series Changing Seas to feature leading-edge research and exploration, as well as increase awareness about the threats the oceans are facing. The series quickly grew beyond broadcast, and its episodes are now frequently featured as part of public lecture series at universities, museums and other venues. Live web screenings give students in the U.S. and abroad a chance to chat with experts about their research and become more aware of STEM fields. The series has been recognized with multiple awards, including the prestigious communication award presented by the National Academy of Sciences. The series is seen in a cumulative 90 percent of U.S. media markets and 34 countries.

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WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh
Deborah Acklin, President & CEO


 WQED Multimedia’s Portrayal and Perception: African American Men & Boys embodies the two vital pillars of education and civic leadership. From 2012 through 2015, WQED Multimedia has engaged in a multi-platform project exploring how the media portrays African American males, and as a result, how society views them. Numerous award-winning documentaries, specials, and direct-to-web content report on people and organizations working to spotlight positive rather than negative images.

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WTVP Peoria
Maurice “Moss” Bresnahan, CEO, Illinois Public Media & WTVP

When devastating tornadoes hit central Illinois, WTVP Peoria demonstrated the value of having a locally-owned public media outlet: the station organized a telethon that raised nearly $1 million – all of it for local tornado relief. WTVP employees helped with the clean-up, and in November 2014, WTVP produced a documentary capturing the community’s inspiring road to recovery. This documentary premiered to a sell-out audience of 1,200 at the community civic center – the very location that had served as a shelter for tornado victims after the storm.

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Norm Silverstein, President

WXXI’s Move to Include initiative, a partnership with the Golisano Foundation, encourages dialogue about the vital role of inclusion. Providing special TV and radio programming, news features and films spotlighting the abilities of people with disabilities, it looks to build a more inclusive community by inspiring people to embrace different abilities.

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The Public Media Summit

Webinars/Conference Calls

The Grant Center Announces a 2017-2018 Webinar Series on Evaluation
Learn more and register for our three-part evaluation webinar series.
Through the Looking Glass: Distribution and Reflections
Date and time TBA. The final webinar in our evaluation series will help attendees understand how to communicate their impact to potential funders.