Pioneer Public TV

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Pioneer Public Television logo
KWCM: Appleton, Minnesota
KSMN: Worthington, Minnesota
Branding Pioneer Public Television
Slogan Proudly serving you since 1966
Channels Digital: KWCM: 10 (VHF)
Virtual: 10 (PSIP)
Digital: KSMN: 15 (UHF)
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
Subchannels 10.1/20.1 PBS (HD)
10.2/20.2 Create
10.3/20.3 MN Channel
10.4/20.4 World
Translators K20JY-D 20 Olivia
K27KN-D 27 Alexandria
K30AF 30 Alexandria
K44AE-D 44 Willmar
K49FA-D 49 Fergus Falls
Affiliations PBS
Owner West Central Minnesota Educational Television Company
First air date KWCM: February 7, 1966[1]
KSMN: March 2, 1997
Call letters' meaning


Southern MiNnesota
Former channel number(s) Analog:
10 (1966-2009)
20 (1997-2009)
KWCM: 31
Former affiliations NET (1966-1970)
Transmitter power

50 kW (digital)

200 kW (digital)

381 m (digital)

290.1 m (digital)
Facility ID KWCM: 71549
KSMN: 71558
Transmitter coordinates KWCM:
45°10′3″N 96°0′2″W / 45.16750°N 96.00056°W / 45.16750; -96.00056 (KWCM-TV)
43°53′52″N 95°56′50″W / 43.89778°N 95.94722°W / 43.89778; -95.94722 (KSMN)

Pioneer Public Television is the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member Public television station serving southwest and west-central Minnesota, northwestern Iowa, eastern South Dakota, and southeastern North Dakota. Pioneer is based in Appleton, Minnesota and operates transmitters in western Minnesota: KWCM-Appleton (Channel 10), KSMN-Worthington (Channel 20), and K49FA-Fergus Falls (Channel 49). Pioneer's coverage area includes over 45 rural counties and over 750,000 people.

Pioneer Public Television is operated by the nonprofit West Central Minnesota Educational Television Company.


The West Central Minnesota Educational Television Company was incorporated on February 10, 1959, after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) identified a region in southwestern Minnesota not yet covered by a national educational television signal. The station was intended to be a relay point for programs from KTCA in St. Paul.

In 1963, with guidance from KTCA, Appleton community leaders began a fundraising campaign for the station. Individuals, businesses, clubs, associations, foundations, and churches all contributed to the fundraising effort. In July 1963, the Alvin Lia family donated 8.25 acres of land located two miles southeast of Appleton, on which to place a tower and transmitter. One of the country school districts that had previously consolidated with Appleton donated its one-room schoolhouse to hold the controls. In 1965, John Klindworth, President of K & M Electronics in Minneapolis, donated $22,000 in television equipment, competing the local fund drive. Additional funds were granted by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Hill Family Foundation.

KWCM went on the air for the first time on February 7, 1966. The station was initially supported through payments from area schools at the rate of $1 per pupil. 41 schools were participating in ETV programs and paying membership fees during the first year. KWCM’s first programing schedule included subjects such as math, science, music, Spanish, German, French, and some training courses for teachers. During the first month, the station began broadcasting at 9 a.m. and signed off at 4:15 p.m.

KWCM became a PBS member station in 1975.

In 1983, KWCM adopted the name Pioneer Public Television. A press release announcing the change stated:

"Webster’s Dictionary defines “pioneer” as: “a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method of technical development.” To us, this definition captures the essence of what this rural public TV station is all about."

KWCM and KSMN's broadcasts have been digital-only since9pm June 12, 2009.[2]

Local programming[edit]

On March 24, 1975, Pioneer premiered its first locally developed program, which featured the Future Farmers of America. It was taped at KTCA but developed and produced locally. Other early productions included On Call For Health, Legal Lines, and Academic Challenge.

In 1981, Pioneer became the first station in the nation to broadcast Agvision, a locally developed market information service for farmers. Agvision was available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. via closed captioning on specially equipped TV sets.

Current locally-produced programs include Postcards, Funtime Polka, Your Legislators, Great Minnesota Parks, and On Stage. Pioneer has worked in close association with the University of Minnesota, Morris to produce programs such as Prairie Yard & Garden, Echoes of Cry of the Marsh, and Minnesota Rivers & Fields.

Digital television[edit]

KWCM and KSMN's digital television signals contain four subchannels.

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming
10.1/20.1 720p 16:9 KWCM-HD/KSMN-HD Main KWCM-TV programming / PBS
10.2/20.2 480i 4:3 Create Create
10.3/20.3 KWCM-MN/KSMN-MN Minnesota Channel
10.4/20.4 KWCM-DT/KSMN-DT World

Broadcast translators[edit]

A network of digital translators in western Minnesota extends the reach of the primary KWCM and KSMN signals.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says KWCM signed on February 7, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on January 21.
  2. ^