Last week, ValleyPBS, Fresno’s local PBS station, celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Originally founded by the Fresno County Office of Education with donated equipment and a grant from the federal government, and operating under the call letters KMTF (stood for Kings, Madera, Tulare and Fresno counties), the station now known as KVPT (Valley Public Television) has a long, rich history of serving Valley viewers.
Interesting historical tidbits about ValleyPBS
• Originally located on L Street (in the former KFSN 30 building), ValleyPBS moved to 1544 Van Ness in 1990, purchasing the building from KSEE 24 for $1 (and the land for $25K).
• The station has had just three CEOs: Colin Dougherty from 1977 to 2003, Paula Castadio from 2003 to 2015, and Phil Meyer from 2015 to today.
• “The Great TV Auction,” a live auction show, became a well-known, highly viewed, annual fundraiser for the station, and it took hundreds of volunteers to pull off the show each year. Auction items included everything from rugs to vacations, tools, and even livestock.
• Local programming has been a focus of the station since its start with both weekly series and one-time special programs being written, produced, and aired right from the local building.
• The station held a capital campaign and fund-raised for a full decade to make it happen, but when the time came to go from analog to a digital signal, ValleyPBS converted successfully.
Things Valley residents should know about ValleyPBS:
• ValleyPBS is a member-supported, independent, non-profit television station that raises 80% of its own operating budget. Only 20% of funding for the station comes through government sources such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
• The cost of funding PBS television stations’ government allocation is only $1.37 per tax payer, per year.
• PBS is the 5th most-watched network (broadcast and cable considered) in the country, and locally, viewership of ValleyPBS is nearly double the typical PBS viewership rate of other cities across the country.
• 82% of Valley children who are preschool-aged are unable to afford to participate in a quality, preschool program. Though many subsidized preschool spots exist, most are half-day and do not work for families with working-class parents, as parents typically can’t leave their job midday when the preschool day ends. Because of this, ValleyPBS commits 70 hours of air time each week to quality, educational, PBS Kids shows so that children who are unable to attend preschool can still learn the necessary reading, math, science, and social skills needed to enter kindergarten prepared for success.
• ValleyPBS is a public television station, therefore it presents balanced and fair information on all topics, and does not (cannot, and will not) allow any of its programming to be influenced by commercial interests or biases.
• ValleyPBS is largely supported thanks to the generosity of the 11,000 local viewers and fans who have made the commitment to help support the station’s ongoing operation by providing a financial donation either monthly, annually. or through larger, one-time gifts.
How ValleyPBS serves the community (aka things you can enjoy but may not know about!)
• Beyond offering viewers an unprecedented array of high-quality PBS programming on its main channel, ValleyPBS HD (channel 18.1, Comcast 8 and 708, Dish 18, U-verse 8 and 108), ValleyPBS offers three additional channels (local listings for all channels can be found here):
- ValleyPBS Kids 24/7 – the first channel to air beloved, educational and entertaining PBS Kids shows, all day, every day with no cable subscription required (channel 18.2, Comcast: 395)
- ValleyPBS Create – airs viewer-favorite PBS how-to, travel, and cooking programs (channel 3, Comcast 396)
- ValleyPBS World – provides a thought-provoking lens to explore the worlds of non-fiction, science, nature, news, public affairs, and documentaries (channel 18.4, Comcast: 394)
• ValleyPBS Learning Media is a free, online treasure trove of over 100,000 media items such as show clips, full-length episodes, audio files, printable curriculum, interactive PC and white board games, and more just for teachers and educators. Teachers can search by topic, Common Core Standard and grade level, and save items they’d like to use in their classrooms to their favorites folder.
• ValleyPBS Family Circle is a membership program specifically for parents of young children. For a monthly, tax-deductible donation of $10 (or more), families can enjoy exclusive access to special monthly events and activities at no additional charge. The station partners with local children’s attractions such as Rotary Storyland Playland, Imagine U Children’s Museum, The Chaffee Zoo and the Fresno County Public Library to host Family Circle members for hands-on learning, tasty snacks (provided by Whole Foods), crafts, and character meet and greets.
The affordable monthly donation is more than offset when family members attend the events. For example, last October, Family Circle members enjoyed a day at the Pumpkin Patch on First and Nees complete with pumpkins for each child, a story time, snack, and free unlimited ride wristband, all at no additional cost. To join Family Circle, click here.
• ValleyPBS Ready to Learn is an outreach program offered through partnerships with local school districts that provides parents of preschool- and elementary-aged children a chance to get together with other parents and learn practical ways to help their children succeed in the classroom and life.
ValleyPBS has a team of 30 dynamic and motivating trainers who teach parent workshops in English, Spanish, and Hmong at schools throughout the Valley in the mornings and evenings. These workshops are free for parents to attend and include children’s books, hands-on projects and school supplies, childcare, and breakfast or dinner for the families attending! As of this week, ValleyPBS has offered 330 parent workshops and counting — just this school year! To follow their schedule of workshops so you can participate, check out the ValleyPBS Parents Facebook Page.
• Local Production and Video Production Services. ValleyPBS continues to produce its own local content, both in house and in collaboration with local talent. Valley’s Gold, the station’s weekly program that takes you from farm to table through a different crop each week, is produced by ValleyPBS staff in partnership with the Fresno Farm Bureau, and the station is currently working on three big, stand-alone projects which include a documentary about water (watch the water show’s trailer — it’s awesome!), one telling the powerful stories of Japanese Americans who endured the hardships of internment camp life in the Valley, and one that tells the tales veterans and soldiers sharing their stories of service. ValleyPBS also offers fee-for-service video production for outside clients from project start to finish at prices that are often below local commercial studio rates.
How you can help ensure ValleyPBS remains strong, despite uncertain times
• Share this article with others and tell them why ValleyPBS is important to you.
• Become a member and provide an ongoing donation or one-time donation. For as little as $5 a month, deducted automatically, you can become a Sustaining Circle Member and make a significant contribution to the health of the station.
• Become a Family Circle Member for just $10 a month, and enjoy all the great exclusive, family events
• If you’re a school administrator, consider inviting ValleyPBS’s Ready to Learn program on campus to provide parent engagement services. Not an administrator, but close to one? Make sure they know about Ready to Learn.
• Eat pizza. Yup! By simply eating at any local-area Pieology on Thursdays in the month of May, and showing the flyer below (printed out or on your mobile device) you’ll be contributing 20% of your meal price to ValleyPBS!
Disclaimer: The author of this article is an employee of ValleyPBS who grew up watching channel 18, Sesame Street, and Mr. Rogers, and who loves her job. That said, the information contained here is very much firsthand, so you can count on it its accuracy, too.
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