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WVIA broadcasts to region for over 50 years

Broadcasting for over 50 years, WVIA has been a presence in public television serving 21 counties in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, according to Neil Prisco, creative director-marketing and branding for the station.

“Over the years we’ve enjoyed a great ratingship with the people in that area, due to their member support, their support of our programming and us being able to create programs that tell stories of that area,” Prisco said of the Lycoming County area and residents.

The station also operates the WVYA radio studio located in the Community Arts Center.

“We’ll have live broadcasts from that studio as well as different interviews in the studio,” he said. “It kind of adds the local connection to the area.”

In the past, WVIA has been involved in the Little League World Series as well as participating in the Little League Museum’s Kids’ Day event. The station has also broadcasts the Little League World Series parade.

Sharing that it is a “passion project of the station,” Prisco said that every year the station broadcasts nationally the Little League Challenger games.

“That actually gets distributed nationwide throughout PBS affiliates as well as the ESPN online affiliate,” he added.

According to Prisco, WVIA is a mission-driven organization with a goal of educating and informing the public about local, regional, state, national and world events and happenings.

“We started as an education-based station and we remain true to that. We are proud to give our public well-informed, in depth coverage that other affiliates are not able to do. It’s because of the support of the people that we are able to continue to do this,” he stated.

“For us it’s a combination of we’re proud to be able to showcase the stories of the world to the people of Lycoming County and we’re proud to showcase the stories of Lycoming County out to the world,” he added.

During the past year with schools seeking to meet the task of educating students remotely, WVIA has aided in this effort.

“WVIA has always been rooted in education and the pandemic highlighted how WVIA and other PBS affiliates can be of use to school districts, to educational intermediate units, to educators and students as an educational resource,” he said.

“We’ve always had a presence serving the underserved and made sure that we could provide educational assets and opportunities to those who might not otherwise have them, When something like a pandemic comes up I think that ability to do that is showcased on a larger scale because we have the platform built to provide that,” he added.

During the pandemic, WVIA changed the station’s afternoon schedule to make it entirely educationally based. Shows were specific to grade levels and curriculum.

“This way teachers, students and families could go online and find a curriculum that corresponds with the program they’re watching and get an education from that to go along with their grade level,” Prisco explained.

The educational programming that began at WVIA during the pandemic has turned into a statewide initiative called, “Learning At Home” which has been highlighted around the country. This in turn has created datacasting, which aids the ability of curriculum and information to get into homes that don’t have internet access, a problem many area students have to deal with.

“It is a bigger problem than a lot of people realize in the state,” Prisco stressed.

“Our ability through our broadcast towers to get information out through that platform is a vital asset,” he added.

According to Carla McCabe, WVIA President and CEO, “Pennsylvania PBS stations are now an important part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education official Continuity of Education plan, and GEERS (Governors’ Emergency Education Relief) grant funding now allows WVIA and the other six stations to launch a new service of datacasting, using a portion of the broadcast spectrum to send education materials to devices in homes without internet access.”

McCabe also stated that aside from education, “our goal next year is to increase our local output across all platforms.”

“In October this year, we launched a new multi-platform weekly public affairs series, Keystone Edition and we plan to build upon that as well as additional long form local content,” she added.

McCabe noted that the pandemic, although tragic, “created innovative opportunities to serve.”

“In the realm of education, the pandemic identified ways in which WVIA could fill educational gaps as well as help teacher better reach their students,” she said.

Looking ahead, Career Spotlight, a new program which will begin mid-January, is aimed at middle and high school students who want to obtain career information as they prepare for the job field or higher education.

Each week, WVIA Education will interview a local representative from regional industries, corporations, trades and small businesses, showcasing important and interesting jobs in the region and how students can follow similar career paths.

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