In an earlier post I presented the KYUK Radio Report to the Community. This report is a requirement of the federal grants we receive through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting- CPB. KYUK-TV also receives substantial financial support from the Federal government through CPB grants. As a joint radio and television licensee, KYUK also must prepare and present a report to the community on our television services for the prior year. In this article I will present some of the highlights of our local television services for 2014.
For 44 years KYUK Radio and Television has shared the world with the people of the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta and shared the unique culture, lifestyle and issues of the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta’s people with the world.
In 2014, KYUK-TV continued the transmission of four digital channels of free over the air public television programming for the community of Bethel. These channels include PBS, the Alaska Rural Communication Service (ARCS), 360North/Gavel Alaska and a local message channel. This has been a key local service provided to the community of Bethel for 43 years.
In late March 2014, KYUK once again shared with the world the Cama-i Dance Festival, Bethel’s celebration of dance, culture and artistic expression held each spring in Bethel. KYUK-TV has documented this event since 1991. In 2014 we had a multimedia team produce feature print and audio stories, a photo slide show and a sixteen minute highlights video that were all posted to the KYUK website.
In September, 2014 KYUK entered into a partnership with the Tundra Women’s Coalition working with their youth group, Teens Acting Against Violence (TAAV), to produce an interactive video program educating YK Delta teens on appropriate and healthy relationships. Titled Lets’ Talk About: Healthy Relationships, the program will be written, produced and acted by members of the TAAV teen group who will present this video program to their peers in communities throughout the YK Delta as part of their community outreach program. The goal of this project is to reduce the incidences of sexual violence and suicide among teens in Y/K Delta communities. Additional partners include YK villages touched by sexual violence; schools throughout the YK Delta and YKHC’s Behavioral Health Department. This project is now in the production phase. The anticipated completion date will be in July of 2015.
The construction phase of our USDA Rural Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant is nearing completion. Demolition and construction began almost a year ago in April 2014. During the ensuing months, we removed all our 20+-year-old analog production and studio equipment from our control room, dismantled equipment racks, rerouted, replaced and upgraded electrical wiring, took down three walls to open up the space, installed new lighting and soundproofing, raised the floor to accommodate wiring for the new equipment and had the floor carpeted.
We are awaiting delivery of a second low power TV transmitter purchased through this USDA grant. The addition of this second transmitter, on channel 17, will provide the community of Bethel with a total of eight free, over the air digital TV channels. One channel on this transmitter will broadcast programming locally produced by KYUK. A second channel will broadcast UATV, a programming service of the University of Alaska- Fairbanks produced by our partner station KUAC-TV. UATV programming includes the First Nations Experience Television Network (FNX). The FNX network distributes programming by and about Native Americans from KVNR-TV, a public station in San Bernardino, California. The two remaining channels will be offered to the Lower Kuskokwim School District and to the City of Bethel for their programming use.
We are beginning the equipment procurement phase through this grant now, selecting equipment including a video server, automated program play out system, cameras and studio production and support equipment. When completed, this multimedia area will be able to provide programming over the air via our channel 15 and 17 low power transmitters and via broadband over the Internet. Our vision continues to be for KYUK to once again produce local program content in our community, for our community, our region and statewide while at the same time participating in the training of the next generation of digital media creators in the YK Delta and beyond. We will fulfill this vision in partnership with our region’s five school districts offering a state of the art digital production center for real world, hands on multimedia training for our local students. Our measure of success for this project continues to be the extent to which we can involve the community and the five regional school districts in this project in sustainable and long-term ways.
Finally, our statewide television partnership with Alaska Public Media in Anchorage and KTOO-TV in Juneau successfully completed its second year of operation in 2014. It is through this partnership that KYUK-TV is able to provide a full PBS program stream to our community along with other relevant public programming like 360North and Gavel Alaska during the legislative session. Although KYUK is not capable of providing locally produced programming to the statewide service at the present time while we are rebuilding our digital capacity, when we complete this project we will become a more active program provider in this shared TV service.
We are in a rebuilding period that will continue for the next twelve to eighteen months that will bring KYUK-TV into the digital era so that we can continue to provide public media services to our community as we have done since 1972.