Message from the General Manager
At a recent dinner, a quick question about the winter’s most notable program, Downton Abbey, evolved into a long and detailed discussion of where a station like WGBY fits in the ever changing world of media.
Two folks at my dinner table stated pointedly that they did not see how WGBY had anything at all to do with Downton or any of our other national programs for that matter. Of course, I had to respond with the obvious “Viewers Like You” explanation that donations to local stations like WGBY are aggregated by PBS to buy and produce our mutual national program schedule. But it didn’t end there, the second gentleman stated flatly “I don’t give you money because I can watch on your station, on CPTV, on Demand or DVR. I already paid for the program when I paid my cable bill!” When I countered that we don’t get any money from cable, he replied simply “that’s crazy!”
Perhaps in this digital world that is a bit more convoluted than it need be, but that’s the system we have and it has yielded some remarkable programs for almost 50 years. However, it does beg the question about the role of the local station. One obvious answer is the work we do sharing local stories through our local programs and I’ve written about that often. But another very important role is to facilitate genuine face-to-face contact around important ideas and programs. Even in this digital age where we each have our own personal screen, we still know that many experiences are better when they are shared with others.
We do that a lot through screenings and events. Our Masterpiece Ball in January is one. Last month’s Fan Fair let hundreds of families experience the Love of Learning first hand. This month we’ll mark our 30th year of bringing fine wines, beers and local specialty foods to our community in downtown Springfield during our Wine Lovers Weekend. In June, our Asparagus Festival will celebrate local agriculture and music in historic Hadley. Between all of those major events will be screenings and educational workshops from a variety of national producers and local partners.
National networks don’t do these things, your local station does. We serve you with great national programs, compelling local stories and many types of events. All thanks to your support!
Russell J. Peotter