Looking back, 2009 was a watershed year for WTVP. From technology to programming to staffing, it was to say the least an interesting year.
On February 17, good old channel 47 went the way of the world when analog broadcasting essentially ceased in Peoria. It was superseded by digital channels 47.1 (high definition), 47.2 (WTVP World), and 47.3 (WTVP Create). To continue receiving free off-air television programming, viewers either had to purchase a new digital receiver or a converter box. Frankly we were terrified of what the change would bring in terms of membership support, and the results of the March membership drive bore out our worst fears. We reached only 50% of a very conservative goal. Either all of our members couldn't find us or they blamed us for the changeover.
As the year went on, we received many, many phone calls asking about reception, indoor and outdoor antennas, and re-scanning. Both our front office and engineering staff were busy providing excellent customer service, even if sometimes the answer was that we just couldn't solve a particular problem. Apparently the effort was quite worthwhile because the June drive performed admirably and almost made up the shortfall from March.
Most gratifying were the calls that came in about the improved picture quality that high definition offered and the improved program selection that came with the addition of World and Create.
Another major upgrade was to our website, www.wtvp.org. Staff worked hard and continues to do so to make much additional information available about WTVP and PBS programming and services. Locally produced programs like those from At Issue and Interesting People with Ed Sutkowski were archived and available for viewing on your computer if you missed them when they were broadcast. Further improvements are underway that will allow you to connect to primetime PBS series. We'll let you know when that becomes available.
Programming kept pace with technological change. My personal favorites were the video renditions of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist," "David Copperfield" and "Little Dorrit" on Masterpiece Classic. These were outdone only by the breathtaking spectacle of Ken Burns' National Parks series, which reminded us why we converted to high definition. We celebrated Sesame Street's 40th birthday, and this month we bid farewell to Norm Abrams and his New Yankee Workshop series. Fortunately, Norm will continue on This Old House.
The economic meltdown had its way with our budget, and several staff positions were lost, and salaries and benefits cut. We all hope for better times soon.
The one constant in all this is you, our faithful member. You are the reason we continue to work hard to provide outstanding quality in programming and services, national and local. Your support is very necessary and very much appreciated. We vow to work to our utmost to serve you and to merit that support. Thank you.
Finally, in this blessed season, WTVP's Board and staff extend greetings and best wishes to you and all those dear to you.
President & CEO, WTVP (Retired)