Though not typically known as a news station, WTVP has stepped up and expanded resources devoted to news and information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple on-air initiatives are designed to keep viewers and the Central Illinois public engaged and informed.
In conjunction with local and regional educational entities, WTVP has announced plans for a new broadcast channel dedicated solely to remote learning. Announced on Wednesday, May 20, WTVP REMOTE is projected to be on the air later in the summer in time for the 2020-2021 school year. The new 24/7 channel fills a critical need for remote learning resources during the coronavirus pandemic and in future situations where classroom alternatives are required.
WTVP REMOTE will be especially important to low-income urban families and rural residents in the region who do not have reliable access to high-speed internet, cable TV service or a computer.Under the plan, WTVP REMOTE will be funded by educational entities, major donations and grants designated specifically for the operation of the channel. Some content will be from the PBS digital learning library, but other programming will be locally produced to meet the specific needs of area students.
Community Television Simulcast
On Friday, March 27, WTVP hosted seven regional television stations in a simulcast called Central Illinois United: A COVID-19 Town Hall.
WTVPs’ H Wayne Wilson was the moderator as news anchors from other stations questioned health care, government, education, and counseling professionals about the situation and outlook in Central Illinois. Originating from WTVP’s studio, the 60-minute program was simulcast on WEEK (NBC), HOI ABC, WMBD (CBS), WYZZ (FOX), The CW and WAOE (MyNetwork).
Town Hall Broadcast
On Sunday, March 15, WTVP President and CEO Lesley Matuszak moderated a 90-minute live broadcast from the WTVP studio — the first in our region to provide insights and answers about the developing crisis. Guests included local health care, public health and education experts, and state and local political leaders. The program was scheduled during Sunday evening programming as the station’s spring pledge drive was concluding.
Expanded Public Affairs Program
WTVP’s weekly public affairs program, At Issue, has been expanded from a half-hour pre-recorded format to a 60-minute live format for more than two months. Live coverage will continue in every phase of the pandemic, including a COVID-19 update special on June 11. The program has featured a U.S Representative, the Illinois State Treasurer, senators, mayors, public school superintendents, local officials and health care experts, just to name a few. Viewers have submitted questions via email and social media.
Video Encouragement, Tips and Advice
Beginning with a :30 and :60 public service announcements for the Peoria City/County Health Department that were recorded and posted on the station’s website on March 3, WTVP has produced 80+ Coronavirus Update spots featuring business owners, health officials, law enforcement, faith leaders, educators, and others offering encouragement, advice and official information to the public. Spots rotated into the on-air schedule before or after prime time programs. In May, the Coronavirus Update spots shifted to Staying Healthy messages featuring a more upbeat and optimistic outlook as summer begins and economic activity begins to move forward.
Children’s COVID-19 Information
WTVP added excellent content from WUCF in Central Florida to our website to help parents address the questions and needs of children. Meet the Helpers is a multi-platform initiative designed to teach children about important community helpers so they are better prepared in emergency situations.