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Update About Funding Public Broadcasting

An update on federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and local public media stations.

Dear Supports,

The budget compromise for the remainder of FY2011 that passed Congress marks an important milestone for public broadcasting. In eight weeks the situation went from the total elimination of any federal funding (as passed by the U.S. House on 02/19) to the preservation of 93 percent of the appropriation for CPB, including a slight increase to the CPB in 2013. Federal funding is funneled through CPB directly to your local stations.

Now, the sprint to the passage of an FY11 Continuing Resolution (CR) will be replaced by a marathon to the FY12 federal budget. There will likely be renewed calls in Congress to eliminate public broadcasting funding in the coming months and public stations like AETN must be prepared to stand up again to defend our mission and values.

More than 360,000 citizen advocates joined the group 170 Million Americans to advocate their feelings about public television and public media services. Visit 170millionamericans.org to learn more about the services and their goal to sign up one million advocates.This strong base of supporters will allow voices to be heard throughout this ongoing process in the coming months and years as Congress works through significant budget issues. We heard from Washington that the hundreds of thousands of individual contacts from across the nation had a positive impact.

Here are the details of the budget deal as it relates to (CPB):

$445 million for (CPB) in FY2013

  • This maintains the critical two-year advance funding mechanism that has been in place for CPB since 1976.
  • This funding is not subject to the 0.2 percent across the board rescission in the CR.

$430 million for CPB in FY2011

  • This funding is subject to a 0.2 percent across the board rescission in the CR.

$6 million for the CPB Digital program

  • This funding is subject to a 0.2 percent across the board rescission in the CR.
  • This is a cut of $30 million below FY2010 levels; however, it is the amount requested by the president for FY2012.

$27.3 million for Ready To Learn

  • This funding is up to the discretion of the Department of Education, which could affect the level of funding for popular PBS children's educational programming.
  • This is level funding from FY2010.

$4.5 million for Rural Digital

  • This funding is subject to a 0.2 percent across the board rescission in the CR.
  • This is level funding from FY2010.

We will keep you updated as this process rolls on.

Please know how grateful we are for the interest and involvement of so many supporters of AETN and our appreciation to all who have contacted or will contact their Washington delegation.

Whatever a person's individual feelings about this or other issues, democracy requires involvement, and we hope this continues as our nation grapples with a myriad of tough issues.

Allen Weatherly
Executive Director
Arkansas Educational Television Network

Updated 4/12/2011

...that 73 percent of television viewers say that public television sets the standards for quality on television overall'

...that the majority of support for the quality programs you see each week come from individual viewers just like you'

...AETN has a special focus on the educational needs of our children and their families'

Viewers and donors such as you make it possible for AETN to continue to be of tremendous value to Arkansans of all ages because we:

  • Provide a place where all points of view can be expressed
  • Help educate learners of all ages
  • Are a safe haven for children
  • Offer programs that educate, enrich and inspire
  • Reach beyond the television screen to make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.

AETN Means Local Service

Arkansas has many new faces in the Arkansas statehouse and in Washington, D.C., and with new faces comes a need to either familiarize or re-familiarize those leaders about how important AETN is in our state. If you feel the same, let your representatives working in Little Rock and Washington know how you feel about AETN.

Key items from the latest Roper survey say:

For the seventh year in a row, PBS ranks as the most trusted institution among seven public institutions measured, dramatically out-scoring the other institutions: 45 percent trusted PBS 'a great deal' with courts of law following second by a distant 26 percent of respondents. You'll find that the survey results highlight what you may already instinctively know: that public television is trustworthy, an exceptional value for your tax dollars, a great resource for children and teachers, and a leader in addressing current issues of the day.

More than 75 percent of respondents indicated that PBS does well (responding 'very well' or 'moderately well') in addressing the following issues:

  • Providing people with access to arts and culture (88%)
  • Promoting an understanding of American history (84%)
  • Improving literacy (81%)
  • Promoting an understanding of science and technology (81%)
  • Informing people of America's ethnic and cultural diversity (81%)
  • Providing access to a variety of viewpoints (78%)
  • Informing people about health issues (77%)
  • Informing people of important political and social issues (76%)

America's unique public broadcasting system is a collaboration of 1,300 local, non-commercial radio and television stations that meet the standards of, and are supported by, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In Arkansas, AETN and our state's public radio stations work with hundreds of national and local producers and community partners to ensure universal access to high-quality, non-commercial programming.

By supporting AETN with financial gifts to the AETN Foundation you help provide your family and fellow citizens with quality educational television in Arkansas that embodies the value we all consider essential.

We hope that you will call your Members of Congress and tell them what you think of public broadcasting and the proposed cuts. Congress could take action on these cuts in the next few days, so please act soon if you are so inclined.

  • Rep. Tim Griffin (202) 225-2506
  • Rep. Steve Wommack (202) 225-4301
  • Rep. Rick Crawford (202) 225-4706
  • Rep. Mike Ross (202) 225-3772
  • Sen. John Boozman (202) 224-4843
  • Sen. Mark Pryor (202) 224-2353

You can also go to each Member's website and use email to let them know your feelings. It's important that Congress hears from you. If you would like to send a message to your representative, visit www.arkansashouse.org or call 501-682-6211. You can also contact our state Senators at www.state.ar.us/senate or calling 501-682-2902.

Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/aetntv), and tell us how you feel.

You can also support public media by

Visiting the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting page at www.170millionamericans.org

AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly, who just completed 10 years as the network CEO and with 30 years experience in educational television, recently sat down and reflected on some relevant questions related to AETN, PBS and the current threat to any federal funding for public broadcasting.

Weatherly, also the CEO of the AETN Foundation (without pay), has twice been elected by public television stations to the PBS Board of Directors. These duties have allowed him to witness close-up the work of stations all across the country and the challenges non-commercial public media is facing in a difficult environment.

Q1. How worried are you about your federal funding'

It would be a bit disingenuous of me to not recognize what is going on in Congress and how it may affect AETN.

It is clear that America must find ways to tighten our country's fiscal belt and right-size government spending, but legislation to eliminate funding for public broadcasting overlooks the critical value that AETN has brought to Arkansas for 45 years and the services PBS' nearly 360 member stations across the nation provide to major cities and small towns. And that does not even mention 800 or so public radio stations.

With that said I am concerned, but hopeful.

I am concerned because federal funding provides vital seed money for PBS member stations like AETN, which are locally owned and operated, supporting their programming and initiatives, which serve every community across the nation.

Understand that most funding from federal sources goes directly to the local stations, not to PBS, or in radio's case, NPR. It is the local stations who will be directly and immediately impacted by elimination.

I am hopeful, though, because we have long had the support of Arkansans, the American public and the Members of Congress who represent them because we are recognized for providing critical services for the entire nation.

Public television is America's largest classroom, the nation's largest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world ' all at the federal funding cost of about 59 cents per Arkansan per year.

AETN is a state entity and as such has always received operational support from the state which amounts to about $1.76 per Arkansan per year. So everything we get from government sources per Arkansan amounts to about 60% of the cost of one Big Mac.

Citizens help support AETN as well with the understanding, I believe, that we exist to try to provide services and programming not designed to make a buck ' which is fine for commercial television ' but to serve a mission.

AETN's mission has always been clear:
The mission of the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is to offer lifelong learning opportunities to all Arkansans; to supply instructional programs to Arkansas's schools; to provide programming and services to improve and enhance the lives of Arkansas's citizens; and to illuminate the culture and heritage of Arkansas and the world.

To accomplish this mission, AETN, through the creative use of telecommunications, will present a high-quality public television service designed to inform, educate, motivate, entertain, enlighten and inspire.

The unique combination of local, corporate, state and federal support is the key in allowing public media to not be forced to chase audiences or a coveted section of a desired demographic and to try to provide quality children's, educational and arts and cultural programming that aims to meet our mission ' not a bottom line.

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Q2. Do PBS member stations really need the federal appropriation'

Federal funding provides vital seed money for PBS' nearly 360 member stations, which are locally owned and operated, supporting public service programming and initiatives, particularly among underserved groups like rural populations who wouldn't otherwise be able to access what public television stations provide.

This access includes content that expands the minds of children, documentaries that open up new worlds, non-commercialized news series that keep citizens informed on world events and programming that brings the arts, theatre and music to people wherever they live.

These dollars are particularly important to smaller stations. While the appropriation equals about 15% of our system's revenue (about the same % for AETN), that's an aggregate number. For many stations in rural America, the appropriation counts for as much as 40-50% of their budgets.

Something to keep in mind is how the appropriation is leveraged: for every dollar in federal funding invested in member stations, public television raises an additional $6.00 on our own, including contributions from many, many people who voluntarily support our community-based work. So when we call the federal appropriation seed money, we mean it.

The small, but vital percentage of our overall budget that comes from a federal appropriation is what forms the foundation upon which we build our capacity to serve all Americans with content and services that educate, inform and inspire.

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Q3. What are you doing to defend public broadcasting from a de-funding threat'

AETN, as a state entity, is careful not to spend any public funds for the specific purpose of lobbying. The private 501-C3 AETN Foundation, does support national public broadcasting organizations delivering our case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

There is a group of local stations who have launched a grass roots effort, called 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting, to give supporters of public television and radio a way to let Members of Congress know that public broadcasting is too important to cut. The AETN Foundation supports the aims of this group and is a member of the coalition.

I am continually impressed by the true transparency members of the public television family demonstrate when dealing with issues like this. Of course, we do not have the kind of lobbying dollars or power that others may have but we do have the support of millions of Americans. The 170-million figure refers to the amount of people who use public broadcasting annually.

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Q4. What will happen if federal funding is lost'

The lofty answer: If the government cuts PBS member station funding, citizens could lose access to content that expands the minds of children, documentaries that open up new worlds, non-commercialized news series that keep citizens informed on world events and programming that brings the arts, music and theatre to every community across the country. For the price of about one dollar per American per year, is it worth the loss'

Specifically, I believe it is America's and Arkansas's children who will feel the greatest loss. PBS is America's largest classroom, available to nearly all of America's children ' including those who can't attend preschool.

PBS offers educational media that helps prepare children for success in school and opens up the world to them in an age-appropriate way. 

PBS is the #1 source of media content for pre-school teachers and the #1 place parents turn to for preschool video online, with content proven to improve critical literacy skills in young children. Without it, teachers and families would lose access to innovative lessons, and fun, educational videos that engage young minds.

There is a large and growing body of research that proves PBS content helps children learn.

A study conducted by the Education Development Center showed that preschool children who participated in a curriculum incorporating PBS KIDS video and games into classroom instruction were better prepared for kindergarten than children who didn't.

According to a study entitled 'G Is for Growing', children who watched SESAME STREET in preschool spend more time reading for fun in high school, and they obtain higher grades in English, math and science. PBS children's programming teaches important educational and life skills, cultivating and challenging the critical thinkers and innovators of tomorrow.

In Arkansas, AETN is all about education with services designed especially for schools and teachers over the past 45 years. Our ARKANSAS IDEAS (Internet Delivered Education for Arkansas Schools) website with the Arkansas Department of Education is a one-of-a-kind professional development center available free to Arkansas teachers and is the literal envy of public media stations and states. This, along with additional programs and services folks expect from AETN, brings what I can defend as an extraordinary value to our state.

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Q5. Is this attack as serious as the one in 1995'

It's difficult to compare the situations as so much about the political, media and economic landscapes are very different today. But given the economic challenges our country faces, we know that every dollar spent by the government is under serious review.

I believe it is appropriate for Congress to review the programs it funds, and that a thorough analysis will show that the funding of public television benefits a broad segment of the public, which would not be well served if the funding was eliminated.

We do know that one of the arguments made in 1995 is less true today. Sixteen years ago, with the advent of many new cable channels, those calling for cuts in the funding of public broadcasting stated that there was no longer a need for it; that the marketplace was producing high-quality programming on its own. There is no question that there is some high-quality programming available on cable now, but cable networks follow the dictates of the commercial marketplace.

Public broadcasting presents programming that viewers value but fall outside of a commercial network's economic calculations, such as the in-depth documentaries of Ken Burns, curriculum-based children's content that improves academic skills, arts and culture series and much more.

Another fallacy related to the suggestion that other channels are sufficient, I personally enjoy arts and culture programming as a staple of my viewing. It is clear that channels like Bravo and A&E, sometimes cited as examples of such alternatives, have moved rapidly away from their original work with the arts. Why' Well, they need to make a buck for their investors. That is perfectly legitimate and proper, of course, but it does not always bode well for arts and cultural programming.

Even after 30 years in this business, I strongly believe the best source of non-commercialized, free programming on television that educates, inspires and informs continues to be AETN, in association with PBS and its member stations.

One other fact: remember that PBS is not a producing organization. They have never produced a program. The member stations provide the programming. PBS invests on our behalf and puts together a program schedule we can choose to use. Several AETN productions have been seen nationwide providing a positive view of our state.

In fact, I think it is more essential now than ever. Digital platforms mean that Americans have more access to media than ever before, which means it even more important for there to be a non-commercialized source for content that educates, informs and inspires.

In our state, I strongly believe we need 'Arkansas Week', 'Exploring Arkansas with Chuck Dovish', 'Outdoor Hotline', 'Men and Women of Distinction', and our music series 'AETN Presents: On the Front Row' to celebrate and help explain Arkansas. Award-winning locally produced AETN productions like 'Silent Storytellers' and others document our state for future generations.

I know for certain that our governing Commission, staff and volunteers work hard to stretch what dollars we have as far as possible to bring quality mission-oriented programming to Arkansas.

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Q6. How do you feel about NPR's decision to fire Juan Williams'

First, it must be noted that PBS and NPR are different organizations and as such PBS had no role in the matter. NPR has made several public statements about this issue and I have no insight or anything to add to what has already been said other than to make it clear that we support our colleagues at our local public radio stations in Arkansas. I think they do terrific work.

Q7. What's your response to the various proposals to eliminate funding for public broadcasting'

In this difficult economic environment, I think it is critical that every dollar spent by the government undergo serious review and I hope there is not just a rush to cut without considering the value provided.

Public broadcasting, certainly AETN, has a mission to provide free content that expands the minds of children, documentaries that open up new worlds, non-commercialized series that keep our citizens informed on world events and programming that brings the arts, theatre and music to communities across the country. Without public broadcasting, the programming options available to such disparate groups as parents, children and rural Americans would be, I believe, significantly limited.

I have been told, even by Members of Congress, that they increasingly believe that AETN and public television is an oasis (their words) in a sea of reality shows and other programs that are sometimes not suitable, in their opinion. In fact, I hear this more than I ever have in my three decades working in this business. This does not exactly square with the argument that there is adequate programming available elsewhere that would make up for the loss of public television.

I don't in any way discount the legitimacy of asking whether the support we receive is appropriate. But I do believe it is appropriate because we provide this state with high-quality, free services including educational content for children. And we have done so for more than 45 years.

Cutting CPB funding would save Americans less than half a cent a day, but would cost our community vital services that many of our citizens now depend upon.

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Q8. Do you have government relations/lobbying consultants'

Public broadcasting is represented by advocates at the national level who work with local stations to initiate advocacy, planning, research and communications activities at the national and community levels. AETN does not employ any outside lobbying consultants.

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Q9. Are you worried that the return of a Republican house will mean you will face more charges of liberalism'

I know our schedule and what AETN produces for Arkansans. As I understand the main critiques we have heard, the calls to cut or reduce the funding PBS and local stations receive from CPB are based on the very legitimate concern about the size of the U.S. budget deficit, not perceptions about public television's content.

I am not quite sure what programs are being discussed when I visit with folks who make the general claim that PBS or AETN are specifically biased. Jim Lehrer and the 'PBS Newshour'' I think they define the term 'fair and balanced.' 'Frontline'' Seems to me they have a history of taking on everybody. 'Great Performances'' 'NOVA'' 'American Experience'' Is it 'Arkansas Week''

I just hope folks who make such general statements actually watch AETN. If they still think we are this or that after watching our programming, fine. Democracy means diversity of thought.

But I know this: the American public has named PBS the most trusted institution among nationally known organizations for seven consecutive years and ranks PBS second behind military defense as an exceptional value for tax dollars, according to national polls conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media.

A recent comprehensive statewide survey conducted by Oakleaf and Associates found that no matter their political affiliation, Arkansans have an extraordinarily high perception of and support for AETN. They also believe AETN works hard to be fair.

I think it's fine that people have diverse tastes and define that this or that program is a favorite - or not so favorite. With the average household spending at least half of their day with some form of electronic media I would hope all use their discretion and make good choices about what they want to watch. I know I do, and I watch many cable and commercial broadcast programs as most do, in addition to AETN.

Our challenge is to show the value we provide, and frankly what would be missing were public broadcasting not exist. When it comes to programming for children, for example, we know we have very wide support from people who consider themselves conservatives. So our task is to show our value, and what would be missing were there no broadcasters dedicated to using the public airwaves to serve the public good.

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Q10. What about declining ratings at PBS'

PBS' national ratings are actually increasing. PBS' full season for 2009-2010 wrapped with 18% increase from the 2008-2009 season. PBS' full day viewership is the 12th most-watched channel among all broadcast and cable networks for the 2009-2010 season, just below Fox News Channel.

PBS and stations are also building a growing audience on digital platforms, from PBS' highly trafficked website ' welcoming 20 million visitors each month ' that includes local station content to PBS' iPhone and iPad apps and more. Our video player is fabulous and you can watch full-length programs at your leisure at home or on the road.

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Q11. What is AETN focused on now' 

We continue to do our work every day to serve children and families, showcase the best of Arkansas and present the quality programming available through PBS. Budgets are extremely tight these days ' even without this federal threat ' and we are not looking to become a commercial entity searching for ratings.

Again, I love many broadcast and cable television programs and am not some sort of purist. I just strongly believe in what we do. And what we will continue to try to do.

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- February 14, 2011

AETN is not just television anymore.  AETN?'s mission to educate, enrich, expand Arkansan's? minds with quality programming means that we have to go beyond the broadcast to bring viewers opportunities to personally connect with those programs to make them meaningful to each person who chooses to watch them.  

Impact stories are personal examples of how AETN has taken the broadcast from the living room to communities across Arkansas and how our efforts have impacted the lives of children, individuals and families.   

AETN will continue to create community engagement opportunities through exhibits, outreach events, concerns, screenings, summer camps and partnerships.  Keep up to date on those near you in our Engage section.

Impact Stories: Arkansas IDEAS

AETN's Arkansas IDEAS professional development website for teachers first of its kind in the nation.

In his inaugural address this year, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said 'Our system of education, at every level, has made remarkable progress'Arkansas has proven, again and again, that it can set the standard for the nation and the world'we stand on solid ground with strength enough to move the world.'

For nearly 50 years, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) has been carrying out its mission to educate, enrich and inspire Arkansans of all ages through programming and outreach into communities from the mountains south to the Delta. In 2005, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 2318 that created a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Education and AETN to provide high-quality, online professional development (PD) for educators licensed in Arkansas. The result was Arkansas IDEAS ' Internet Delivered Education for Arkansas Schools. IDEAS is designed to enhance educators' content knowledge and instructional skills. To date, the website provides more than 5,700 credit hours of professional development, and currently serves more than 23,000 registered educators in all regions of the state.

'Thank you so much for all that you provide for us,' Pamela Powell, library media specialist at Heber Springs Elementary School, said. 'I'm sure you don't hear that often enough, but I and my teachers really do utilize your programs and appreciate all you do.'

Arkansas now has the largest comprehensive continuing education online portal for educators. Teachers have access to the highest quality professional development through IDEAS. The cutting-edge online portal provided in IDEAS is evidence that Arkansas is leading the way in providing professional growth and development for teachers.

'You guys are the best,' one teacher registered in the system said. 'It's good to know that there are different branches within our educational system that are willing to work together.

'As I said in a previous e-mail, this has got to be about the best PD resource I've ever seen. I've recommended you to many colleagues, both working and non-working. Just so you know, I have gone back through in the past two days and gotten an additional six hours in technology (the required amount for the State Dept.). I'm going to try to get a few more hours in within the next few days, also. You have renewed my faith in 'the system'...it's so refreshing to have a caring partner at the other end of the e-mail address!'

Arkansas currently requires one of the highest numbers of professional development hours in the nation each year to maintain a teaching license. Arkansas IDEAS professional development website for educators was designed to answer to that charge. As a result of the progressive action of the state's legislature, Arkansas's licensed educators have state-supported access to online educational professional development trainings, courses and resources.

ASCD, the internationally renowned producer of books, video, audio and onsite professional development for educators and leadership in the world, is joining Arkansas IDEAS this year, making Arkansas the first state to offer this unparalleled resource.

Arkansas is the only state to offer ASCD's entire library of award-winning online courses to its educators in an online format, the crux of IDEAS learning management system. IDEAS and ASCD's interactive, self-paced courses on educational strategies and issues are related to curriculum, with flexibility without sacrificing meaningful content. Courses include audio and video clips, examples from actual classrooms, as well as extensive reading materials. The highest quality professional development offered by ASCD is now accessible to educators in the state through IDEAS.

'I would hope that administrators could see the vast money savings and increase in the morale of the teaching staff by allowing us to (with their approval of content area) get professionally enriched without cramming 15 minutes of information into a 6 hour period,' teacher and coach Ron Graves said. 'I teach computer business applications and have readily explored the technology areas offered in Microsoft.

I am open to advice as how to expose my high school students to this online training. I know that the self-paced, personally-motivated training presented would be helpful. I found the courses to be like 'peanuts' ' ya can't just eat one! Keep bringing us the good stuff!'

Other comment about IDEAS include:

'I used to wonder about the value of IDEAS in regard to 'seat time.' I took a course today for the 'fun of it' in managing negative people, and I was impressed. If you follow all the links embedded in the course, you get your seat time in. I'm a fairly good reader and my 1 hour course and test took 53+ minutes. Maybe they are not all like that, but good stuff today in my humble opinion. I suspect the seat time depends a great deal on the amount of prior learning the student possesses at the onset of the course. I purposely picked what I thought would be a new learning. While there was some cross-over from past learning, I still spent a lot of thought time processing what I was reading.' ' Dr. Randy C. Barrett, superintendent, Gentry Public Schools
"This is the first time I have done this, and I am so impressed I hope to continue with these courses in the future. They are so helpful, and I can do them at home whenever I have a chance. This is wonderful, and what has been selected for me is amazing. Thank you all for this opportunity.' ' Registered teacher on the portal
'I am so thankful for this opportunity to get my professional development hours this way. I was extremely nervous about the time crunch to get these hours in because I have little ones and no grandparents or babysitters. This was truly an answered prayer.' ' Tommie Leigh, teacher

Arkansas is setting yet another standard in education for the nation. Additional information on Arkansas IDEAS can be found at www.arkansasideas.org.

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Impact Stories: Arkansas Week

AETN's 'Arkansas Week' has long history of devoted viewers, encourages community journalism/

'Arkansas Week,' the Arkansas Educational Television Network's (AETN) weekly news analysis program, has addressed public affairs across the state for more than 25 years. Recently, producers introduced a new program format that allows viewers to suggest topics of discussion for their area of the state.

'We introduced online components and audience-produced segments to allow our viewers to be a part of public affairs programming in their state,' AETN Executive Producer Carole Adornetto said. 'For more than 25 years we've been providing valuable news analysis, and we believe the public brings us varied topics and viewpoints to enhance the conversations of our weekly panel.'

Viewers are invited to become community journalists for the program by creating 60 to 90-second videos about the hot topics in Arkansas news. Videos may be submitted on DVD or online through www.youtube.com/aetntv.

Additionally, AETN welcomes viewers to submit suggestions for discussion topics through e-mail paffairs@aetn.org; Facebook, www.facebook.com/aetntv; and Twitter, www.twitter.com/aetn.

Veteran journalist Steve Barnes has hosted the program since 1988.

Below are just a few comments about 'Arkansas Week' from viewers and panelists:

"Over the last quarter century the political conversations have become increasingly confrontational and adversarial and argumentative. I'm delighted that 'Arkansas Week' has remained true to its commitment, providing dispassionate discussion and analysis on Friday evenings, keeping us informed and enlightened about our state and its politics." ' Hal Bass
"I remember the first show 25 years ago. The panelists were, as I recall, John Ward, the editor of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway; Paul Greenberg, who was at that time at Pine Bluff Commercial; and I. And the moderator was a young philosophy professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. And the big topic was the return of Bill Clinton from the political wilderness where the voters had exiled him two years earlier. But none of us foresaw what was coming and over the intervening 25 years, I don't think we've gotten anymore clairvoyant." ' Ernie Dumas
"For 25 years 'Arkansas Week' has given you the most unique perspective in the state. From the grid iron to the capitol. They have all the news here." ' Joseph Halm
"I'm always impressed when I travel around the state how many people watch 'Arkansas Week' and depend on it as a source of important information." ' Hoyt Purvis
"One of the things that has always impressed me about 'Arkansas Week' is the length that it will go to bring people from around the state from different areas to meet and talk about their views. I appreciate it, and I know of viewers who have stopped me on the sidewalk and in stores who have appreciated it also." ' Doug Thompson
"For 25 years 'Arkansas Week' is one of two things that has kept me home on most Friday nights. The other was being married." ' Roy Ockert
"This is the best program for finding out what's going on in Arkansas for Arkansans. There's nothing like it anywhere in the state." ' Ann Clemmer

'Arkansas Week,' one of the most trusted public affairs programs in Arkansas, airs Fridays at 8 p.m. Each week, a dedicated, distinguished group of Arkansas journalists and political scientists discuss issues in the news. The program repeats Sundays at 6:30 a.m. on KUAR public radio, FM 89.1, Little Rock. Full video episodes and podcasts are available online at www.aetn.org/arkansasweek.

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Impact Stories: ATV Safety

'A Trip Unplanned: ATV Safety' educates viewers on the importance of all terrain vehicle safety training.

Every year, more than 700 deaths occur as a direct result of ATV-related injuries. Thirty-five percent of those 700 deaths are children under the age of 16. The highest risk age group is males under the age of 16. Every week, more than one child is admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital after an ATV-related injury, and Arkansas currently has one of the highest child injury rates in the nation.

'A Trip Unplanned: ATV Safety' features Arkansas resident Ashley Mays, a mother who learned firsthand the tragedy associated with improper ATV use when her son was injured on an ATV when he was only three years old. Now, at age seven, her son is still dealing with injuries from the accident.

'I am willing to tell my story for so many different reasons, but the main reason is to save another family from going through what we went through and are continuing to go through,' Mays said. 'It sounds cliché, but when you go through it you just want to do whatever to save one kid ' literally, one kid ' from going through something similar.'

'A Trip Unplanned: ATV Safety' featured a live panel discussion and call-in with representatives Dr. Mary Aitken, professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Mike Klumpp, associate professor of 4-H Youth Development with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service; Eric Devries, Central Arkansas Regional Education Coordinator with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commisson; and Mays.

After the program aired statewide, many people were thankful for the resources and information that were provided and even had heartbreaking stories to add:

'I lost my 12-year-old daughter, Sarah Beth Prat, to an ATV accident on May 17, 2001. Racing with her cousin in a hayfield, she lost control, and the 500 cc ATV flipped and rolled, crushing her body as if it were a ragdoll. I am pleading with all parents everywhere to please listen to the warnings that are so well written on this website. You cannot raise them in a bubble, but you can use common sense. Just ask yourself this question: Would you allow your child to ride a motorcycle' Of course not. Yet what parents do not understand is that these machines have just as much power, can go just as fast and are more dangerous for children who do not have the motor skills or physical strength and lack the cognitive skills needed to operate these machines safely. I wish I knew these facts before Sarah's death.' ' Barbara Brodnax
'I have children and grandchildren who go out and ride and hunt. It scares me to think they could end up like that. I want them to see this video. Great to include hunter education!' ' Ron Gibson

'A Trip Unplanned: ATV Safety' is available to the public free of charge through Arkansas Children's Hospital. Classes on ATV safety are offered throughout the state by the 4-H program of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission through their hunter education course.

'A Trip Unplanned: ATV Safety' is available to watch in its entirety online at aetn.org/atvsafety.

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Impact Stories: Exploring Arkansas

AETN's 'Exploring Arkansas' provides residents adventures in their own backyards.

'Exploring Arkansas,' one of the most popular programs AETN produces, features outdoor activities for Arkansans of all ages. Hosted by outdoor enthusiast and longtime television personality Chuck Dovish, 'Exploring Arkansas' is a one-of-a-kind program that showcases what Arkansas is all about and focuses on extreme adventures and little-known areas of the Natural State. During a time when many families and individuals are struggling with tightened budgets, 'Exploring Arkansas' provides affordable, educational and healthy outdoor activities for the whole family without the stress and expense of traveling out of state. "From the Mississippi Delta region, to the Grand Prairie, to the Ozarks and the Ouachitas, what Arkansas has to offer is truly phenomenal,' Dovish said. 'Exploring all of these areas one can reconnect with nature and realize how special the Natural State really is.

'I get comments from parents all the time saying how much they look forward to each episode so they can take their kids to the places we've been and create in them a bond with the outdoors. Thus, all of it hopefully will play an important role in future conservation and preservation.'

Each episode includes high adventure and outdoor recreation, featuring some of the most breathtaking and spectacular sights in Arkansas, as well as how-to guides to activities such as rappelling, spelunking, canoeing and geocaching. 'Exploring Arkansas' may be seen its entirety online at www.aetn.org/exploringarkansas, and many fans of the show consider this one of the best resources the show has to offer.

'I have been wild caving in several area caves, carrying extra flashlights and batteries,' Arkansan Jennifer Bland commented. 'These are great natural wonders of Arkansas and should be kept on the video list for viewers like me.'

'Exploring Arkansas: National Wildlife Refuges' will also premiere in March 2011. This series will feature 10 National wildlife refuges across Arkansas and highlight the benefits of preserving natural habitats for endangered wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

'Exploring Arkansas' showcases one of Arkansas's best features: its natural landscape. For 30 minutes each Monday at 6:30 p.m., viewers all around the state are given the opportunity to learn about the adventures waiting for them, often in their own backyards. 'Exploring Arkansas' provides the perfect medium for people to connect through shared appreciation for the great outdoors and evoke pride in their home state.

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Impact Stories: Family Day

AETN's annual Family Days bring PBS Kids to Northwest Arkansas

Each spring on the first Tuesday of Arkansas public schools' Spring Break, AETN partners with the Harvey & Bernice Jones Center for Families in Springdale for Family Day with PBS KIDS.

This event allows families to participate in activities designed to educate and entertain all ages. AETN Family Day is entirely free to the public and hosted in the 220,000-square-foot Jones Center, which features an Olympic-size pool, ice skating rink, fully equipped gymnasium and more. Activities are planned around these Jones Center amenities and coordinated to the PBS Kids characters in attendance.

This year's PBS KIDS characters include Clifford the Big Red Dog, Sid the Science Kid, Buddy from 'Dinosaur Train,' The Cat in the Hat and DOG from 'WordWorld.' AETN offers attendees buttons, stickers, activity books, temporary tattoos and other great giveaways in addition to photo opportunities with their favorite characters. The Jones Center provides lunch for everyone, inflatable bounce houses and materials for activities. This annual event is promoted in AETN and Jones Television broadcasts, and all photos from the event are posted to flickr.com/aetntv and are available for download.

Family Day 2008 was purposely planned to be located in the area of the state with the largest Latino population. During Family Day planning, AETN discovered that the majority of Northwest Arkansas was underserved, which cemented our decision to locate this free events in this region of the state, thus allowing AETN to extend its accessibility and outreach. The goal of Family Day is to offer children on spring break an alternative to usual spring break activities or sitting on the couch. AETN partnered with the Jones Center primarily because of a similar mission to serve family and community, as well as to educate and enrich the lives of Arkansans. The Jones Center was a natural and wonderful partner, especially with a facility that can accommodate the volume of people that this event draws.

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AETN's Family Days attract approximately 5,000 children and their families annually, providing them with opportunities they couldn't have gotten anywhere else. Many of the families in attendance drive two hours or more just so their children can meet their favorite characters. Many of the attendees see a side of AETN they've never seen before. Through these Family Days, many people discover that AETN creates much more than television programs.

The partnership between the Jones Center and AETN has developed over four spring breaks, with the intention of working together for many more years. AETN's education department is also working with the center to produce summer camps and community education opportunities in coming months.

Comments have included:

'AETN approached us about partnering with us on Spring Break Week, and let me tell you, AETN came on board with a great staff and a great plan to engage our kids and a lot of different activities. The PBS characters came, and we had five or six wonderful characters who engaged our kids in fun activities, and we had cross promotion. Bob the Builder did building projects and Angelina Ballerina did dancing projects. We're right by the airport, so Jay Jay the Jet Plane was a big hit with our kids. But not only the characters, but the care and concern AETN's staff took with our patrons. And how they understood them, even though they're based in Conway and Little Rock area, they understood our viewers in Northwest Arkansas, what they're needs were. It was great to see an outreach to this area and have people really be able to talk to the AETN executives and staff about what they see in their programming and what they want to see in their programming. I can't wait to have them back next year.' ' Tyler Clark, Youth Coordinator, Jones Center for Families, Springdale, Ark.

It's obvious that AETN and the Harvey & Bernice Jones Center for Families are an unmatched pair in reaching out to the community, and future joint endeavors are expected to continue to appeal to and benefit Arkansans of all ages.

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Impact Stories: In Their Words/WAR

AETN preserves, shares World War II history through veteran interviews, outreach around 'The War'.

In 2005, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) embarked on what would become an award-winning and nationally recognized project, 'In Their Words: AETN's World War II Oral Histories Project,' designed to complement Ken Burns's 'The War.'

'In Their Words' was developed to help record and preserve Arkansas's WWII veterans' stories about their first-hand experiences during WWII. AETN has recorded countless hours of testimony from more than 550 members of Arkansas's WWII generation. Interviews are available in their entirety online at InTheirWords.org. This website also provides history about WWII and provides teacher and student resources.

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The 'In Their Words' project affected not only the veterans who had a chance to recount their stories, but their families who hoped to have the stories preserved for future generations. Many sons, daughters and grandchildren would often comment to AETN staff who were conducting the interviews that they had never heard many of their loved ones' stories.

In addition to recording oral histories, AETN arranged for 47 WWII veterans from across the state to travel to Washington, D.C., to visit the National World War II Memorial in a four-day, 'Tribute Tour' on June 9-12. Gov. Mike Beebe was on hand to honor the generation's past sacrifices and wish them well on their journey to the nation's capitol. The group was given the opportunity to tour many landmarks in Washington, D.C., and was the first time for many of the veterans.

Mary Williams, of Drasco, Ark., heard about the project not long after her father had been placed in hospice. The following is from an interview she gave AETN in 2008:

'The first I heard of it, I saw a commercial on AETN, and I have a father who was a WWII veteran. At the time that I saw the commercial he'd had a serious heart attack, and he was in the hospice homecare as an inpatient.

They weren't giving him a very good prognosis, and I saw that commercial, and I thought, oh my, this is something they invented for daddy. I don't remember if I got on the Internet or if I just called the number, but I got a hold of Gabe Gentry, and I started calling him every little bit, saying you've got to hurry, you've got to come. My father's in the hospice and you are doing this project for him ' I'm sure of it.

So they came. I think it was December the 30th, 2005, and daddy had been in the hospice since November first. He'd had a serious heart attack on I think November the 30th. And so he was 89 or 90 years old. They hadn't given him very long to live, and he was in the hospice.

He stayed in bed most of the time, and they came, and he did the interview, and he sat up that whole day and that was the first time I'd ever listened to daddy's whole story.

Daddy was not one of these vets that wouldn't talk. We knew all of his stories, but we'd just heard them in pieces, and that day when we listened to him we heard the whole story, and it really made me appreciate what had happened to him, and it just made me take it more seriously.

So the interview and the process of the interview and the people listening to daddy who'd been telling these stories for all these years really seemed to help him. He actually started getting better. He started walking in the halls in the hospice and about three months later they kicked him out, and then he really enjoyed doing the interview and there was some time later, about a year later or so when AETN called back and said that daddy had been chosen to go on the tour if he was able.

By this time the doctors had told him he was no longer terminal, and he was well enough to go on the tour to Washington. When he went to Washington he really enjoyed that. His favorite part though was when he got to the World War II memorial. There were a lot of children there, and the children came up to him and asked if he was a World War II veteran. He told them he was, and he started telling them his stor,y and it was just like a big point in his life. It was like it'd invigorated him and when it was time to leave the World War II memorial, we were running to keep up with him and he's 90 something years old. But it was just really a good thing for him.

Well, we were all really happy because it made him happy, and it made him happy to be able to share and that someone was really listening, and we were all glad that we'd had the whole story recorded because when they did the interview they started from before he was in the service, and he told everything in sequence of what happened so we got to hear the whole story and I think that it meant a whole lot more to hear it as a story and not just as little incidents like we had heard before. At the time when they did the interview and daddy was so sick, it was something that he really enjoyed doing. And so we were really happy that we found something we could do for him. All of my sisters, and I have three sisters, and we all agreed that we thought this project had come along just for him. It was just something that he was suited for. I said that before, that he was a person that'd been telling this story because the things that he saw really bothered him, and I think he had nightmares for a long time and he told me once that being able to talk about it helped him'just helped him to deal with it. He has an excellent memory and all of these things, especially these that dealt with civilians are still very vivid in his mind and to be able to tell them and to be able to know that we were going to know what he'd been through, it just meant a lot to him and so now we have it on a tape and our children will know'our grandchildren will know and it's just there forever.'

'In Their Words' producer Gabe Gentry recounts a particular event on the 'Tribute Tour,'

'When we arrived at Reagan national airport in Washington, D.C., U.S. Airways made an announcement that any passenger waiting on an aircraft in the terminal could come to gate 35 and welcome Arkansas World War II veterans who were flying in to see the World War II memorial. When the veterans got off the airplane there were over 250 strangers waiting at gate 35 holding flags. They were shouting welcome to Washington ' they were shouting thank you for your service. I was one of the last ones to get off of the plane so I didn't know what it was like until I began looking at the footage that we'd recorded that day, and there wasn't but a handful of veterans that made it through that tunnel, that line of passengers without breaking down. I mean it was overwhelming.'

Within Arkansas, AETN helped drastically raise awareness of the World War II generation. AETN has interviewed more than 550 veterans, approximately 30 of whom have since passed away. Their stories will live on forever. Through this project, AETN received countless thank you notes and viewer e-mails and phone calls from across the state ' perhaps the most response AETN has gotten from a project in years.

'In Their Words' was recognized for both promotion campaign and outreach at the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) awards ceremony on Jan. 15, 2009. The panel of industry experts who judged 'In Their Words' called it 'astounding,' adding, 'What a treasure the state of Arkansas has in its public television station.' The judges also cited the campaign's many ambitious elements ' an interactive exhibit, unmatched press coverage, the veterans' trip to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. ' saying that they set this project apart from 'War'-related projects at other public television stations.

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Impact Stories: Misunderstood Epidemic/Depression

AETN Depression Initiative reaches out to a community in need.

In response to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently issuing Arkansas an F grade for its public mental healthcare system and in partnership with National Mental Health Awareness Month, AETN began a new broadcast and community outreach health initiative to further the network's statewide reach and compliment the biannual AETN series 'Healing Minds. Changing Attitudes.'

The project premiered with the airing of 'The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression' and a 30-minute follow-up called 'HouseCalls: Depression.' The program was hosted by Dr. T. Glenn Pait, director of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, a division of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Dr. Pait is well known in Arkansas for an ongoing "Here's to Your Health" series on Arkansas's NPR affiliate, as well as three-minute health spots that run on the state's CBS affiliate.

This 30-minute program was designed as a health initiative pilot program featuring two to three expert guests discussing various issues surrounding depression and included how to find more information about the topics on the AETN website.

'Housecalls: Depression' provided experts in the field of depression sharing the latest information about the epidemic, demographics, symptoms, causes, risk factors, medications, side effects and alternate therapies. The program is viewable online at AETN Depression.

Representatives from the following organizations participated in the live show: UAMS; NAMI Arkansas; Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services; and Arkansas Chapters of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

Additional outreach efforts included AETN partnering with the Faulkner County Public Library for 'The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression' screening. Each person attending the initial screening received a copy of the book, journal and DVD of the documentary. The screening led to an ongoing DBSA support group being formed for the residents of Central Arkansas, and the group now meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month. The first meeting drew more than 30 depression/bipolar sufferers and family members, many desperate for help, understanding and a safe place to share. Its impact was immediate and will continue to grow as word gets out and the meetings continue.

Comments AETN has received about productions and outreach around 'The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression' include:

"Dear AETN,
WOW! What a wonderful meeting. We are off to a great start, and I will be so proud to watch our group develop.
First I want to thank you for your work in putting together the excellent program last Saturday. That takes a lot of effort to put that all together. Then I want to say a special thanks for the boost in getting a support group started in Conway. I am pleased to tell you that I submitted the application for the room and have now confirmed that our organization meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. Thanks again for all of your help. We have been there. We can help." ' Jerry Quick, State Coordinator, DBSA Arkansas

In another effort to reach as many people as possible, AETN purchased 200 copies of 'The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression' and distributed them to the state's schools, libraries and universities. The impact of these resources was immediate and will continue to grow and reach more Arkansans as people find and use them in their local libraries.

One comment included:

'Thank you so much for sending out 'The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression' to our school. We plan on using it during one of our in-service days when school resumes in August. We know it will be very beneficial.' ' Valarie Harp, Library Media Specialist, John Tyson Elementary, Springdale, Ark.

AETN's Depression Initiative, funded in part by a grant from Iron Zeal Films, has been a great success throughout Arkansas and will undoubtedly continue to serve Arkansas for years to come. Unlike other projects that have a clear start and finish, this project will continue to build in many ways.

This depression project was the force behind a new health initiative at AETN that is currently in development and is tentatively titled "Good Health with Dr. T. Glenn Pait."

AETN's outreach and production crew learned much from this project. First and foremost, there is an immediate need for resources, current medical information and common understanding on the topic of depression. Arkansans are anxious to learn more about the causes and treatments for this disease. This project went a long way toward educating those not suffering from depression that patience, correct information and support are key to progress in learning to function with this disease.

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Impact Stories: National Parks Initiative

AETN encourages viewers to get outside, reconnect with the Natural State through State & National Parks Initiative.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) spent more than 18 months (January 2009-September 2010) encouraging Arkansans to reconnect with their home state through the AETN Arkansas State & National Parks Initiative in conjunction with the national premiere of Ken Burns's 'The National Parks: America's Best Idea.'

The AETN State & National Parks Initiative reached beyond the broadcast, providing enriching opportunities for Arkansans of all ages and engaging them in socially conscious endeavors that benefited the people and natural resources of Arkansas.

'AETN provides an enormous amount of information and educational opportunities for so many people,' Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said. 'They do a great job of blending the information, in part the education component they are charged with providing, and doing it in a way that's entertaining and interesting. It keeps the focus of the viewer.

'AETN's opportunity to be able to provide a framework for history and our parks is an educational tool that I think helps improve the quality of life and the future of our society. Knowing your history helps you focus on where you are today and where you need to go tomorrow.'

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One of the major components of the initiative was the development of the AETN Arkansas State & National Parks Passport Program. This free, pocket-sized booklet encouraged people to visit featured parks ' all six National Park Service sites in Arkansas, as well as six state parks to balance out the geographic regions of the state ' in turn earning prizes. Over 100,000 Passports were distributed to parks, schools, chambers of commerce, churches, community groups, libraries and through individual orders, which came not only from Arkansas, but also Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Montana, Nevada, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky and Minnesota.

One family actually travelled 1,319.6 miles in four days while using their Passport. Here is an excerpt from their story:

'I cannot say enough good things about our parks we have in Arkansas. I had the opportunity to visit all fifty-two Arkansas State Parks last year for the Arkansas State Park Cache Geocaching Challenge, but for some reason had never taken the time to visit the National Parks in Arkansas. Thank you for nudging us in that direction with this program as we have had a blast! We hope everyone has as much fun on their AETN Passport adventures as we did!' 'Justin Murphree

Read the full story online at AETN Parks Storyshare.

In addition to engaging Arkansans through the Passport Program, AETN hosted six daylong Meet Me in the Park events, one at each of the six National Park Service sites in Arkansas, in order to showcase the unique activities and history each had offers. These events were completely free for the public and featured screenings of national and local documentaries, activities that highlighted the history and natural features of the park, PBS characters, free refreshments, living history, tours of the AETN production truck and more. The cumulative total for these six events reached more than 10,000 attendees. Several families utilized Meet Me in the Parks events as part of their family summer vacations, and others who were new to the state used them as a means to learn about Arkansas.

AETN also conducted the Arkansas State & National Parks Amateur Photo Contest, which was all done online and featured winners in three categories. Prizes were awarded by Lewis & Clark Outfitters and Arkansas Parks & Tourism live on air during the premiere event for 'The National Parks: American Best Idea.' Photos are available for viewing at AETN Parks photo gallery.

AETN's Arkansas State & National Parks Initiative recently received a NETA Award for Community Engagement Based on a National Project.

One judge said:

'AETN staff developed a creative way to reach beyond the broadcast and provide enriching opportunities for Arkansas of all ages. The creativity was evident in the design of the Passport Program, Green Membership and the cause marketing partnership with Lewis & Clark Outfitters. Way to go, AETN!'
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Impact Stories: Protecting Arkansas Seniors

AETN's "Protecting the Health and Finances of Arkansas's Seniors" addresses the needs of Arkansas's aging community.

During the summer of 2009, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) joined forces with the National Center for Media Engagement (NCME) and a diverse group of regional organizations to implement a multimedia initiative designed to facilitate dialog with, educate, engage and ultimately protect the health and financial interests of Arkansas's senior citizens.

Preliminary discussions with community leaders concluded that one of Arkansas's greatest financial needs centered on the increasing costs and demands for social services. Factors contributing to this demand are the 27 percent of the state's population who live below the poverty line and the 31 percent of the population ages 50 to 84.

Some of the other issues facing Arkansas's aging community include: living on a fixed monthly income, made harder with the economic recession and investment losses; rises in healthcare expenses and the need for Medicare gap insurance; rising costs of living; scams targeting the elderly; employment for seniors; financial planning; and health issues such as depression, chronic pain, loneliness and drug addiction.

To address these urgent needs of Arkansas's senior community, AETN convened professionals from several government agencies for a one-day workshop open to the public that focused on consumer alerts of interest to seniors, bank safety and soundness, securities fraud, senior insurance issues, Medicare fraud and how to make good financial decisions.

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With more than 120 attendees in the AETN studios, the workshop was videotaped, videostreamed for the web and delivered to state libraries. Throughout the workshop, participants were given the opportunity to ask experts their own questions regarding financial, insurance and health concerns.

Below are a few comments from workshop participants:

'Thank you for hosting the seminar for seniors. I am retired Air Force and have attended many workshops, seminars, etc. This was by far the best. The speakers were knowledgeable and had a genuine interest in helping. Also thank you to the AETN staff. They are great! I'm enclosing a check to help with operating expenses." ' Geneva Gatsch, Conway, Ark.
'We traveled from Hot Springs Village to attend your program on Protecting Arkansas's Seniors July 27, 2009. Speakers were both entertaining and educational. All of the employees of AETN were very courteous, helpful and well informed. Mike Clay answered some of my personal communication questions, too. Thank you and keep up the good work." ' Don and Nancy Fry

On Aug. 12, 2009, AETN created a special night of primetime programming dedicated to the Arkansas senior community. "Protecting the Health and Finances of Arkansas's Seniors" was a two-hour, viewer-call-in broadcast delivered to a statewide audience, featuring a panel of experts and a phone bank full of informed volunteers offering up-to-date information and connecting those in need with community resources. The program was an outstanding success, and included more than 600 phone calls from across the state.

Professionals from the following organizations were included in the program and served as experts in various areas.

  • AARP Arkansas
  • Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
  • Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services
  • Arkansas Attorney General
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Center on Aging
  • Arkansas Insurance Department
  • Case Management Society of America
  • Arkansas Securities Department
  • Ameriprise Financial (retirement planning)
  • Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care

After the program, AETN received this letter from AARP Arkansas:

'Dear AETN Team:
Congratulations on a very successful show last week. In my opinion it was yet another excellent example of your continuous commitment to provide valuable, quality information to the viewing public. You took it a step further by writing a grant that enabled state agencies and consumer groups to come together to get the messages to the people about the most up to the minute issues affecting healthcare and financial security.
We appreciated the opportunity to cover those important issues on the two hour call-in show and to have our representatives from these groups available to answer questions and resolve concerns on the spot. We provided good information and helped individuals who were in difficult situations solve their problems. Just sitting at the phones I heard heartbreaking stories about individuals being scammed and not knowing where to turn. I also heard emotional pleas from persons not having coverage for badly needed medications. I know that some of the representatives are continuing to provide assistance to those callers in complex circumstances.
Thank you for your hard work in the planning, preparation and delivery of an excellent show. It is always a pleasure to work with you and your team of highly skilled professionals." ' Maria Reynolds-Diaz, State Director, AARP Arkansas

This project also included a companion website, aetn.org/seniors, which features Arkansas seniors' comments and content designed to initiate dialog and offer access to helpful resources. The site contains videostreams of the entire workshop, live broadcast and access to governmental resources available for the senior community.

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Impact Stories: Silent Storytellers

Emmy Award- winning 'Silent Storytellers' explores history, culture, significance of Arkansas's cemeteries.

'Silent Storytellers,' an original documentary produced by AETN and independent producer Hop Litzwire, premiered in 2010 and explored the history, culture and importance of preserving Arkansas's cemeteries.

Filmed over two years, 'Silent Storytellers' explores the cultural, artistic and personal stories cemeteries provide to the surrounding communities. Working closely with cemetery researcher and author Abby Burnett, 'Silent Storytellers' featured cemeteries in 10 counties throughout Arkansas, each with their own tales of murder, family heirlooms and folk-art inspired carvings.

'The number one thing that interests me in cemeteries is the sense that you're walking into an area filled with stories if you can just extract them,' Burnett said.

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'Silent Storytellers' also features information about the best techniques for preserving, repairing and maintaining tombstones and cemeteries alike, which is something many Arkansans appreciated. After the program aired, many people who saw the film commented on AETN's website about how much they liked the program:

'This story really touched me. I love history, and I thought the segment about the children going out to the cemetery and selecting a tombstone to search and find history about that person was so awesome. They will always remember that, and I find this so amazing that there is such a program as this. I am not from Arkansas and didn't even know these types of programs existed. This is wonderful.' ' Joan [last name withheld]
'I want to thank you both also for including Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren in this documentary. It has meant so much to me personally, and I feel that Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren is finally getting the recognition that it deserves. 'Silent Storytellers' has done SO much to raise awareness of the cemetery's importance and the need to protect and preserve the architecture there. The local citizenry is very, very proud of this documentary.' ' Randy Smith
'This program on old Arkansas tombstones knocked me out. I stayed up until 1 a.m. watching it. Catch it if you can on AETN.' ' Anonymous

Additionally, after the documentary aired volunteers with the Paraloma Cemetery reported that a man from a nearby town drove up to the cemetery one morning with the suggested appropriate cleaning tools and proceeded to clean 20 stones at the cemetery as an act of preservation. When asked by one of the Paraloma volunteers why he was there to clean, he answered that he had seen a program on AETN and wanted to help.

'Silent Storytellers' received three Emmys in the 2010 annual awards competition of the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). 'Silent Storytellers,' as well as behind-the-scenes clips, additional interviews and downloadable information about tombstone preservation, may be viewed online at aetn.org/silentstorytellers. The film was funded by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Arkansas Department of Heritage.

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Impact Stories: Telling Amy's Story

AETN combats domestic violence with live show and call-in crisis hotline following 'Telling Amy's Story'.

One in four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The FBI says that domestic violence is the most under-reported crime. These alarming statistics prompted the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and Verizon to partner to address domestic violence in Arkansas through special programming and events.

'In the past 10 years, Arkansas has had an average ranking of ninth nationally for domestic homicides per capita, ranking as high as third for two years and first in deaths of African American women in 2002,' Jayne Ann Kita, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV), said. 'Reaching out to victims, providing resources and hope, and educating the public about the prevention of domestic violence are all vitally important to the state to help diminish this disturbing trend.'

To address the issue, and provide critical resources and safety information to Arkansans, AETN premiered 'Telling Amy's Story,' followed by a live domestic violence crisis hotline. 'Telling Amy's Story' chronicles the tragic death of Amy Homan McGee, a domestic violence victim, mother of two and former Verizon employee who was shot and killed by her husband.

'Domestic violence should not happen to anybody, but it does ' and when it does, there is help,' AETN Executive Producer Carole Adornetto said. 'AETN provided that help with a confidential hotline staffed by experts who care and who provided crisis intervention, information and referrals to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families.

'AETN made a commitment to helping Arkansans whose lives are compromised by domestic violence.' During the live show and hotline AETN's Studio A was transformed into a place for victims, and their friends and families, across the state to come for help. Within seconds of the 800 number being shown during the broadcast, two phones rang, then the calls came in waves. The looks on the faces of the domestic violence advocates manning the phone bank said it all that night ' looks of compassion, understanding, intent listening and sadness, clearly illustrating that AETN was providing a powerful public service to viewers.

'What do I do'' volunteers heard. 'This is happening to me.' 'He's in the other room.'

The phone bank volunteers repeated 'document, document, document,' then silently listened and nodded with empathy, sometimes for 10 minutes or more. Many volunteers were victims themselves: a man, a mother, a shelter manager, a self-defense instructor.

Guests being interviewed during the broadcast told tales of suffering, leaving and then helping others find their way. Detectives spoke of taking calls from the same women over and over for months, encouraging them to leave, seek help, do something. They said how they'd see them again and again, not leaving, and dreading the phone call from a woman they had gotten to know all too well.

'We can't make them leave,' one detective said. 'I can only say, 'I'm here for you when you need me.'' Judge David L. Reynolds talked about restraining orders.

''It's just a piece of paper,' I have to tell them,' he said. ''It can't really protect you. You have to do that yourself. It's just paper.''

One woman called in only to pledge support.

'Thank you for doing this kind of programming,' she said. 'It's much needed.'

The ACADV Clothesline Awareness Project, a visual display that bears witness to the deadly reality of domestic violence, was also featured during the crisis hotline. Additionally, AETN created a domestic violence resource website at www.aetn.org/domesticviolence. AETN has also partnered with the ACADV and Women and Children First to reach all corners of the state with potentially life-saving information. AETN and the ACADV marked the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) by screening 'Telling Amy's Story' at the Arkansas State Capitol throughout the day in the capitol rotunda.

AETN's 'Telling Amy's Story' outreach project is a critical example of how public broadcasting is embracing a shift to public service media by focusing on such relevant topics that other media outlets may not be addressing ' and serving a desperate community need that bubbled to the top when looking at statewide issues.

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Impact Stories: Viewer Feedback

AETN viewers value public broadcasting, educational TV options.

At the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), the viewer services coordinator is often the first point of contact with the public regarding the services AETN provides, both broadcast and outreach. This is one of the most important positions at AETN because the viewer services coordinator helps solve a wide variety of problems, including reception issues, programming and network information.

This position is usually the first person to hear what the public thinks about the work AETN does, and following are just a small sampling of some of the most positive comments AETN has received over the years: Linda Ott of Traskwood, who has been watching for 13 years, shared the story of her son Michael, who is autistic and watches the kids shows because they're beneficial to him. She said the programs get him talking and opening up, as well as helping him socially and improving his speaking skills. She added that not having programs interrupted is very helpful in keeping his attention and that he gets upset when he can't watch AETN. Anne Ramsey of Batesville teaches classes at the Shepherd's Center in Beebe. She uses some of our locally produced programs ('Silent Storytellers,' 'City of Visitors') in some of her classes. They are used as educational and social tools.

Hi, I wanted to tell you something that you could mention should you speak before the politicians determining this. Many Americans like myself have a low income and cannot afford cable or satellite. Frankly there is a great deal of 'garbage' on the networks that are available to people like myself. I do not know what I would do without AETN. I am handicapped and have to do a lot of physical therapy just to keep walking. It would be very boring if I didn't have AETN to watch while doing the PT because I do not like the filthy so-called comedy shows; the reality shows where people brutalize one another; or the violent shows. AETN edifies as well as entertains. I already feel to some degree AETN has been taken away from me because even with an HDTV (admittedly not a high priced one) and the better of the antennas, reception is no longer good. I do not believe the new air waves work as well as the old analog signal. I am beginning to feel like people in Washington make decisions like the Air Waves and now this decision with total disregard for the lower echelon of society. They say they want to help, but it seems to me they are progressively removing quality of life. I am horrified to hear this about AETN. I wholeheartedly support lowering the national debt but the first step they should take is to quit spending so much on pork barrel projects and other wasteful spending. I will also sign up on the site, but thought you might want to hear a specific reason of how this would impact a portion of society. Thank you very much. ' Margaret L. Pleasants, Little Rock, Ark.
'Our school, along with other schools in the district, have numerous children who have lost parents and grandparents as caregivers. About two weeks ago a 49-year-old grandfather fell over dead with a heart attack, and he was raising one of our second graders in his home. We had a grandmother die with a heart attack here at school during parent teacher conference who was raising her grandchildren. Our counselor would love to have these DVDs ['When Families Grieve'] as a resource to help our students, as well as other family members. Last year, three of our elementary students drowned. One of the students was a second grader here at Morrilton Elementary. We have had parents killed in car accidents, died from cancer and numerous other causes. These DVDs will be used at school in small group counseling, as well as distributed to grieving families of our students.' ' Betty Patterson, a counselor at Morrilton Elementary School, regarding the special 'When Families Grieve'
'Enjoy watching all of your craft & hobby shows and English comedies.' ' D. Wigman, Mountain View
'For all the viewers that look to public television for balanced news reporting and first class entertainment, thank you.' ' Dennis Yarbro
'There are lots of us woodworkers in Arkansas who love to watch educational shows on woodworking. I appreciate that you do carry 'The New Yankee Workshop.' Thanks for bringing the best woodworking program back to AETN!' ' Ron Spears
'I am a former Rogers, AR, public school teacher, and currently I'm homeschooling our children. I would love to use the AR programs AETN has produced in teaching AR history. I found the link to streaming videos and wondered if I may be given access, as public schools have. I've seen a few programs recently that were extremely interesting for me, and I'm sure our daughters would love them! It would be such a great help to have access, as public schools have, to the public television programs produced about our state. I especially loved the 'City of Visitors' program on Hot Springs. What an amazing story about the history of one of our own towns ' a story which I've never heard!' ' D. Martin, Rogers, Ark.
'I was searching the directory on the Internet to see if there were more painting shows on other than Bob Ross, which I love to watch. I'm just eager for more, as well as more sewing, quilting, etc. I searching the web for more, I saw a website that said there was a new channel called Create' TV. Is that coming to Arkansas' I live in the Fort Smith area and am eager to know more.' ' M. Whitten, Greenwood, Ark.
'The trio which included YoYo Ma, at the Lincoln Center was the program I accidentally stumbled upon. Wonderful! We've always watched AETN, and now we've got more to love!' ' D. Gibson, regarding digital channels
'I do enjoy a lot of the programming on your network. It is the highlight of my weekend.' ' Chris Jablonski
'Hi. I joined AETN a few months back in order to support BBC World News. That is a great show. I just noticed that you are showing 'BBC Newsnight' on Fridays as well. Thank you.' ' Mike Newman, Fort Smith, Ark.
'I really enjoy alot of your programs. Thank you for providing 'tv worth watching.'' ' Mark Cochran, Benton, Ark.
'We also very much enjoy 'Great Performances' and the Saturday evening line-up. Please continue to give us 'the good stuff!'' 'Martha Lynn & Felix Thompson
'I am a Comcast subscriber in Little Rock. I receive AETN 1, -2, -3 channels plus AETN1 in high def. I routinely search all three for programming that interests me. I have found a good variety and appreciate the options. Recently, I noticed that the weekly McNeil News Hour is available at 9 p.m. in addition to its regular time slot. Also, I can find the Friday evening 'Washington Week' and other news roundups on other days. This is a particular benefit to me because I often am unable to watch these at the normal times. I hope you'll continue to offer these alternatives (and more). Thx.' ' Raymond W. Whittier
'I really like the switch to the 'World' format on AETN 3 (19-3) over the air for me. Maybe because I'm older, I appreciate this programming over the educational programs usually shown. Yes, I do enjoy some of the shows, but not enough to go out of my way to watch them; and no, I'm not a news junkie. I especially enjoy the world view you present, that's education to me. So I hope you will continue this programming after school starts again. I realize the 'E' in AETN is for education, which is required for you to get a lot of your funding, I guess I'm hoping maybe you'll start AETN-5 for the school kids. In any event, keep up the good work. Being on a fixed income & not quite a 'senior,' I often can't manage even the minimum pledge, but I hope to soon. Thanx.' ' Sandy Nowinski, Trumann, Ark.
'Several years ago, my wife suffered a massive stroke that initially rendered her unable to talk, walk or read. After being released from many weeks at a rehab hospital, her speech therapist told her to supplement her vocal therapies and exercises by watching the kids' programs on AETN. She was told to try as best she could to count along or say the letters on 'Sesame Street' or sing along with 'Barney.' Now she reads regularly, speaks with only a modest impairment and even sings in our church choir. I am totally convinced that she has had this level of life-changing success thanks, in part, to those children's programs on AETN that helped her relearn how to read, speak and sing.' ' Mike McCullars, Conway, Ark.
'PBS has truly unbiased news reporting in 'Frontline' and 'The NewsHour,' real commitment to the arts and education of youth. There is no substitute for PBS. Discovery Channel and History Channel have good shows, but they lack the 'intelligence of, say, 'Nature' and 'American Experience.' When watching the cable shows, I feel as though I'm watching something geared toward kids, when in fact it is supposed to be for adults. PBS never talks down to the viewing public.' ' Jaimie
'Public TV stations across the country made themselves invaluable to the communities they serve by providing outstanding community services through projects and events. Without PBS, there is a vast wasteland of programs that focus on the stupidity of people and bad choices. Not very inspiring television to watch. As for asking whether public TV is still necessary, that's like saying 'now that we have Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com, libraries have become redundant' or 'we don't need public parks because everyone can go to the country club.' I consider PBS and AETN a form of education, and everyone needs equal access. I'm a proud donor to AETN.' ' Pamela
'We still need PBS! The 24-hour cable news channels are more 'infotainment' than news ' and some just tell you what to think and berate you if you don't agree. Most cable channels are too narrowly focused and of too varying quality, and almost every channel comes with advertising for stuff I don't need or want. In fact, PBS is the only channel I can let my kids watch without the advertising and without worrying about how suitable the programming is for them. I have to cleanse myself periodically by enjoying programs that only PBS provides.' ' Craig, Prescott, Ark.
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