Thinking Inside the Box

Spring's a Busy Season at MPTV

by Ellis Bromberg, General Manager of MPTV

Hi, Ellis Bromberg with another video "Thinking Inside the Box." It's springtime, such a great season in Wisconsin. You can take walks by the lake again, catch a game at Miller Park, get the grill ready for those backyard cookouts to come. It's just a great time.

But at Milwaukee Public Television, it's also the last quarter of the fiscal year, so we're working on fundraising efforts for the final sprint, and planning next year's budget.

We know many of you are having a tough time in this economic downturn; it's a challenging time for us, too. Viewership of our stations remains strong; people continue to tune to our stations for information and entertainment they can't get elsewhere. But donations are down, and that has an impact on what programming and services we can offer.

I'm recording this just before the start of THE GREAT TV AUCTION -- that's our biggest fundraiser, and we're hoping it'll be true to form this year. Since it provides folks an opportunity to get such great bargains, and to help MPTV while doing it, we hope it will be the kind of success it usually is and give us a big shot in the arm. You know, ours is the largest public television auction in the country, and I invite you to participate along with tens of thousands of others who bid high and bid often!

As you probably know, MPTV produces a lot of local programming, and we're very proud of that. At our April town hall meeting in Germantown, those who attended told us they valued local programming and encouraged us to do more.

The fact is, the economic climate threatens our ability to produce such programming without underwriting support. Don't forget, we don't air commercials, and we're prohibited as a non-commercial station from doing so. But like other non-profit organizations, we do seek and welcome underwriting from foundations, individuals, even companies who want to support the work we do.

And I'm pleased to report we have received underwriting in recent days for a couple of major projects over the next few months, and I wanted to tell you about them, briefly.

First of all, a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will enable us to offer a series of programs, including a live town hall meeting and on-line support, to help our viewers better understand and deal with the home mortgage crisis. It's a critical topic to so many. Our initiative will bring together community organizations and offer people vital information on how they can deal with the problems they're facing.

Secondly, I'm pleased to report that we have secured sufficient underwriting to present live high-definition coverage of THE GREAT CIRCUS PARADE, returning to downtown Milwaukee on July 12th after a six-year hiatus. And here's something very exciting: we will not only broadcast it locally, but will be uplinking our coverage to satellite so that PBS stations across the country can show our CIRCUS PARADE. It's a complicated television production, by the way, but we can handle it, and we're looking forward to sharing this unique Wisconsin event with you and with public television viewers across the country!

We've got a lot of other things in the hopper, and you'll see them announced on-air and in our monthly magazine FINE TUNING, as well as right here on

And speaking of, be looking for the launch of our revamped website in June or July.

And finally, don't forget we will sign our two analog stations, channels 10 and 36, off the air for good on June 12th. On that day we will go all digital, and I'll talk about that in detail in my next video column.

For now, you enjoy springtime in Wisconsin and on Milwaukee Public TV while I put the finishing touches on our budget! I hope I'll still be smiling when I see you next month!