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|Slogan||Public Television for Central Illinois|
|Channels||Digital: 46 (UHF)
Virtual: 47 (PSIP)
|Owner||Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation|
|First air date||June 27, 1971|
|Call letters' meaning||TV Peoria|
|Former channel number(s)||47 (UHF analog, 1971–2009)|
|Transmitter power||190 kW|
WTVP is the PBS station for Peoria, Bloomington, and Galesburg, Illinois. It operates on TV digital channel 46 and uses virtual channels starting with 47 to reflect its previous analog channel number. WTVP has 3 digital subchannels: WTVP HD, WTVP World, and WTVP Create. Its studio is located in Peoria and its broadcast tower is located in East Peoria. The station serves a radius of 50 miles (80 km), with viewers in 20 counties.
Early educational television in region
After World War II, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted the National Association of Educational Broadcasters for the establishment of broadcast allocations (AM/FM radio and TV channels) for non-commercial education programming. The outcomes from these meetings established the foundation for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System.
Commercial broadcast television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) and their local Peoria affiliates provided some educational programming for children in the 1950s and 1960s, but this program content disappeared by 1970.
Channel assignments for station
Under the original FCC analog television channel allocations, channel 59 was reserved for public television use in Peoria; but when WTVP was established, it chose 47, the other, lower open channel in Peoria. The FCC later moved the official public television reservation to 47 to open 59 to commercial use, and channel 59 was eventually used by WAOE in 1999.
The callsign WTVP was used by channel 17 in Decatur, Illinois until that station changed its callsign to WAND in 1966, a few years before channel 47 came on the air and chose WTVP for its own callsign.
Establishing a public television station for the Peoria area
In 1969, Bradley University and Peoria supporters led by Phil Weinberg, academic dean at Bradley University, began discussions for establishing an educational TV station, WTVP to serve the needs of the Peoria, Bloomington and Galesburg markets.
Dr. Weinberg's viewing of Sesame Street, produced by the Children's Television Workshop, since November 10, 1969 convinced him that the Peoria community and children in the region should have quality educational television programs.
A number of meetings were held with civic organizations, businesses, elected public representatives, and K-12 educational institutions. The outcome of these discussions was the establishment of Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation incorporated in the State of Illinois on November 10, 1971.
Weinberg arranged for the program[clarification needed] to play on WMBD-TV Channel 31, for six months, before it moved to the new WTVP station in June 1971. Broadcast operation studios and offices were at Jobst Hall on Bradley University's campus from 1971 to 2003.
Dr. Weinberg served as the organization's first President. From 1971, Elwin Basquin served as the station's first paid manager, retiring as General Manager in 1996. Chet Tomczyk succeeded Basquin as general manager and became President & CEO.
Digital Television Conversion
In 1998, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated that broadcast stations migrate from analog (NTSC) to digital (ATSC) television transmission in United States. Specifically, an unfunded federal mandate for US television stations. See Digital television transition. Since 1993, auctions of former television spectrum to the wireless (cellular) telephone and broadband service companies by the FCC generated $52 billion. That revenue was not used to mitigate the digital transition costs for the non-commercial, educational television stations.
As a result of a fund-raising campaign beginning in 1999 entitled Funds for Forty-Seven, WTVP raised the resources toward its conversion to digital broadcasting. To accommodate for its anticipated digital broadcasting capacity, the station began to plan for a new facility in 2000. Once the Board of Trustees approved a search for an appropriate site to construct a new studio, the station explored many possibilities. 101 State Street, the former location of the O'Neill Transportation depot across the railroad tracks from the Post Office in downtown Peoria, was identified as a potential location and, through the generosity of the property's owner, William J. O'Neill, was made affordable to the station. A 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) facility was designed by PSA and Clark Engineering. After a competitive bid process, CORE Construction was selected as general contractor. The facility was designed to give the station the ability to offer more and better productions of interest, services to the public, and community interaction.
At the end of 2007 and early 2008, the station faced long-term debt pressures, which were widely reported by other local media and later resolved in an agreement with its bank, and with the help of thousands of special contributions resulting from a campaign called Save Our Station.
WTVP has had a long history of cooperation with Bradley University and Bradley's public radio station WCBU, but WTVP is independently owned by the Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation, an Illinois non-profit organization whose main purpose is to run the TV station. IVPTC is governed by a board of trustees, all of whom serve voluntarily. Each IVPTC trustee is nominated by the Board's nominating committee and approved by a vote of the full Board. The full Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public. Permanent seats were reserved by its original charter for one voting representative from each of the following institutions: Bradley University, Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, Peoria Public Schools, Peoria Public Library, Pekin Public Schools, and Illinois Central College.
An experimental collaboration involving joint management and operational cooperation with WILL-TV and the University of Illinois has been working well enough that the WTVP Board of Directors voted in December 2013 to extend this agreement for an additional three years. The overall purpose of the agreement is to help both stations operate more cost effectively in serving eastern and central Illinois.
The station broadcasts PBS programming and other national content, but also has produced many original programs for local audiences. Projects include documentaries such as a Peoria historical documentary entitled Main Street Memories and its first high definition program, entitled Grand View Drive. In addition, WTVP has produced local public affairs programming such as At Issue and Interesting People.
WTVP has collaborated widely with other non-profits in the Central Illinois region. Since constructing and moving to the Peoria downtown/riverfront studio facility in June, 2003, WTVP's 101 State Street location has become a frequent space for events, open houses, tours, dinners, productions, and art exhibitions.
WTVP 47 served as the home broadcaster for Bradley Braves basketball (two stints, 1979-80 and 1996 to February 25, 2012, with Bradley basketball's last telecast on WTVP being a loss to rival Illinois State).
Awards and recognitions
In 2005, the station earned the ArtsPartner of the Year Award in recognition of its efforts to promote culture in Central Illinois, acknowledging its investment in local arts production such as a series of broadcasts with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and its short-form programs produced and broadcast by the station at no charge to many local arts organizations that year.
WTVP patrons Glen and Polly Barton received the PBS Leadership Award in 2003. The O'Neill Family, represented by P. Joseph O'Neill, received the PBS Leadership Award in 2006.
Since its inception, WTVP has received national recognition in the form of PBS Development Awards and Certificates of Achievement for its fund-raising innovations and achievements.
- Hill, Harold (1954). "The National Association of Educational Broadcasters: a history". National Association of Educational Broadcasters. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Former Bradley dean Philip Weinberg dies at 86". Peoria Journal Star. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "Under a mountain of debt, WSEC-TV struggles for survival". Illinois Times. 3 June 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Data Innovation Initiative: Spectrum Auctions - Data, Benefits Abound". Federal Communications Commission. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- Chet Tomczyk (January 2014). "Notes from President & CEO".