These are challenging times for many Idahoans: scary, dangerous, divisive. As Idaho’s only statewide media outlet, Idaho Public Television is in a unique position to offer assistance. We take that responsibility seriously and are working hard to earn your trust. Let me explain.
When the pandemic struck Idaho two months ago, IdahoPTV sprang into action. We began carrying Governor Brad Little’s press conferences on the coronavirus live, both online and on-air. In addition, we provided feeds to all the other broadcasters in Idaho who wanted them.
On March 26th we began producing a live Q & A program Thursday nights with Governor Little and other officials such as Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and Labor Director Jani Revier. In addition to airing these programs live on Idaho Public Television and Facebook, we have made them available to other radio and television broadcasters across the state. These programs have continued almost every week since March.
We also began producing and airing daily Coronavirus Updates each weeknight before and after the PBS Newshour, providing Idahoans with the latest information on new cases, CDC recommendations, and where COVID-19 has spread in Idaho.
Normally our weekly public affairs program Idaho Reports ends for the season when the Idaho Legislature adjourns. We have extended the series to help address how the pandemic is impacting Idaho. Each Friday evening, the program features interviews with leading experts in business, health care, agriculture, education and more.
We have also started a new on-line series, 180 with Marcia Franklin, that looks at how people’s lives have taken a 180 degree turn since the pandemic. The series showcases Idahoans’ incredible resilience and creativity during these times. All this while our staff has been mostly sheltered in place at home.
With assistance from the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters, we even devised a way to continue “The Idaho Debates,” giving Idahoans valuable information before the primary elections in May.
As most of you know, our state funding has been cut, along with the funding of other state agencies. But thanks to funding from the CARES Act, and support from our viewers, Idaho Public Television will continue to help Idahoans weather the coronavirus pandemic by providing vital, timely information.
I am particularly proud of the efforts we’ve made in helping Idaho students learn from home. Many families don’t have a computer, but nearly every family has a television. Beginning in April, we partnered with the Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Department of Education and Idaho Business for Education to provide direct instruction from Idaho teachers to students at home in grades 3 through 6. Each weekday morning children receive five hours of quality educational learning via our statewide “Create” broadcast channel. Classroom Idaho: Learn at Home has been so positively received by students, parents and educators that we are going to continue it during the summer and fall.
We’ve also provided supplemental educational content from such series as NOVA, American Experience and The Great American Read for students in middle and high school. This is in addition to our 24/7 PBS “Kids Channel” full of great educational programming for kids in math, science, history, engineering, geography, literacy, the arts, and more.
We continue to produce and distribute our local IdahoPTV productions such as Science Trek and Idaho Experience and even Outdoor Idaho, programs that are regularly used in classrooms throughout the state.
And if that isn’t enough, Idaho Public Television provides to any public, private, or home schooler free-of-charge PBS Learning Media – an on-line portal featuring thousands of educational resources and videos searchable by grade level, subject matter and Idaho state content standard. Our team of credentialed teachers on staff work one-on-one with Idaho teachers and parents to provide educational resources and professional support to help get through these trying times.
We are all struggling to get through this worldwide pandemic, but Idaho Public Television is committed to helping with content and services that can make a difference in the lives of Idahoans. Thanks to Congress, the State of Idaho, the State Board of Education, the governor, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and our wonderfully supportive donors for providing the funding and support to make this work possible.