The annals of poetry and literature are filled with tales of remorse over opportunities lost and roads not taken. I don't know if fortune favors the bold, but I do know that public television in Peoria and public television and radio in Champaign-Urbana are being given an opportunity to forge a new, cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship. Neither of us is willing to let it pass without at least exploring the prospects.
For many years, WILL and WTVP have collegially existed in adjacent markets, overlapping in the Bloomington-Normal area. We have cooperated on several projects over the years like co-producing Illinois Lawmakers, developing PBS LearningMedia Illinois Edition, and occasionally sharing locally-produced programs. We each faced the fiscal realities of unstable state support and nebulous changes in federal funding, but other than occasional conversation, there was no formal relationship. Then this summer the sun, the moon and the stars seemed to align as never before to offer new possibilities for forming one.
Leaders at each station determined that the new reality of diminishing budgets, emerging technologies, but an unceasing commitment to serve our audiences meant creating a new way of doing business. An opportunity presented itself. The departure of WILL's general manager to new responsibilities in Nebraska and the anticipated retirement of yours truly next July painted the backdrop for an experiment in cooperation and collaboration. Meaning, the old bugaboo of "Who's in charge here?" would not be a factor. We could really begin looking at opportunities for working together to create ways to operate more efficiently and more cost effectively while providing ever more relevant content and services to Central Illinois.
To jump start that process, the leadership at WILL and WTVP charged me with continuing my CEO responsibilities in Peoria while assuming general management duties in the interim in Champaign. My task will be to identify what each operation can contribute to efficient shared operations, what might work, and what we can do together to create more local programming that is meaningful, useful, affordable, and relevant to YOU.
I will be burning up the roads and the bandwidth between both areas over the next several months, and you will see me on both stations asking for your support. This is public broadcasting after all. Please also take the time to email, text, tweet, call, or even write to let me know your ideas for how these two stations can merge activities to serve you better. Let's not lose this terrific opportunity.
President & CEO, WTVP (Retired 2014)