Penn State Public Broadcasting engages audiences worldwide in new ways

September 19, 2008

University Park, Pa. — Penn State Public Broadcasting (PSPB) has been producing and broadcasting educational and public affairs programming to residents of central Pennsylvania — 29 counties from Maryland to New York — since 1965. Now thanks to advances in technologies, WPSU television and radio programs are accessible to audiences worldwide, Ted Krichels, associate vice president for public engagement and general manager of PSPB, told the Penn State Board of Trustees today (Sept. 19).

"Our dedication to quality repurpose-able content, our embrace of multi-platform distribution and the growth and strength of our relationships with the whole of Penn State are extending the mission of the land-grant university in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago," said Krichels, who illustrated how WPSU is engaging with communities through media during his presentation.

Craig D. Weidemann, vice president for Outreach, said Penn State Public Broadcasting's partnerships with the academic colleges are vital to sharing the rich content of the University’s faculty with new audiences.

"Public Broadcasting is truly an exemplar of what education, broadcast and government leaders envisioned in 1952 when they gathered at The Nittany Lion Inn to discuss the creation of a noncommercial educational television service," Weidemann said.

Since that historic meeting and receiving its broadcast license, PSPB has evolved and expanded its engagement with a wide range of audiences. While broadcasting to the station's primarily rural coverage area "remains the bedrock of what we do," Krichels said, "we are exploring advances in technology to enable people almost anywhere in the world to access much of WPSU's radio and TV content online. Our goal continues to be to tell great stories in collaboration with the faculty."

The goal of extending Penn State's academic expertise more broadly is being helped by PSPB's recent partnerships. A partnership with Comcast led to the creation of Penn State On-Demand, a video-on-demand service that brings Penn State content into Pennsylvania households served by Comcast. Through the University Place initiative involving stations WOSU at Ohio State University and WPT at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, PSPB is helping to develop a repository for content among the 100 public TV stations licensed to colleges and universities. PSPB also is partnering with the Big Ten Network to bring WPSU-produced programming, including "Courtside with Coquese," which received a regional Emmy Award, to more viewers and listeners on WPSU, Big Ten Network  and Comcast On Demand.

This fall, PSPB's documentary "Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure," developed with the American Society of Civil Engineers as its primary outreach partner, will air on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations nationwide. The 90-minute program exploring the "invisible" millions of miles of aging, underground water pipes had its premiere earlier this month at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Trustees also learned about the new "Worrisome Students: Minimizing Risk" project, which provides tools to faculty and staff to help them in their interactions with potentially troubled students.

Krichels also highlighted these PSPB-produced programs:

"Pennsylvania's Gas Rush," produced in partnership with Penn State Extension, includes a portfolio of public engagement projects to help educate and answer questions from Pennsylvania landowners about their mineral rights and leasing options related to the Marcellus shale formation, which holds natural gas deposits.

• "Making the Blue Band," a documentary that follows a group of Penn State freshmen seeking a coveted spot in Penn State's Blue Band, will air on the Pennsylvania Public Television Network and Big Ten Network.

• "Common Ground Lobby Talks," produced in collaboration with Penn State faculty, focus on a wide range of topics.

• "Music Theatre Spotlight," produced in partnership with the Penn State School of Theatre's Musical Theatre program, showcases the talents of Penn State seniors enrolled in the program.

• K–12 Educational Services provides multimedia educational materials to teachers nationwide. Resources include interactive materials, video segments, lesson plans and other learning resources.


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009