The ongoing Masterpiece Classic broadcast of four stories from the pen of Charles Dickens inspires me to borrow one of his classic lines: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That certainly sums up the year to date.
On February 17, we turned off our analog transmitter and began broadcasting exclusively in digital. Mostly you seemed happy with that move, especially when you sampled the "WTVP World" service, the "Create" service and programs like "Oliver Twist" and "David Copperfield."
The changeover did not happen uneventfully-there were bumps aplenty in the road for some people, mostly involving antenna and converter box problems. Most of these seemed to have been fixed, but if you are still having problems, please call us at 309/677-4747 and we will try to help.
That was the good news. The bad news is no surprise. This has been a tough winter, and regardless of the calendar, it seems never to end. Weather is only a part of it; the state of the economy and the general malaise that it engenders certainly makes us long for the rebirth, renewal and attitude adjustment that comes with spring. Perhaps the warming temperatures will help and also compel an uptick in the markets and jobs.
Like you, your public television station has not been immune to the widespread challenges created by the global economic crisis. The down economy has led to a significant shortfall during our March membership drive. More people were apparently staying in and watching more television, but they were also decreasing their contributions as they watched their pennies more closely.
We are doing the same. WTVP is contracting services and personnel and reducing staff compensation. We are using the resources you provide to create and deliver the programs and quality you expect, but we can't continue doing it indefinitely without you.
Rather than totally discontinuing your financial support of WTVP and waiting "until things get better," I humbly ask that you continue your membership support, even if at a reduced rate. We survive only through your good graces, and we hope that you realize that every dollar helps. Please be as generous as you can.
Finally, another sign of spring is on the way. The WTVP Auction will be on the air April 23-26. It will be a great place to find bargains, so please "Watch, Bid and Buy!"
President & CEO, WTVP (Retired)