Satellite viewers in Montevideo, Willmar, Ortonville and Redwood Falls and all points in between have expressed disappointment about not being able to see local programs like Postcards, Your Legislators, Prairie Yard & Garden, Funtime Polka and Grassland Jam. For years they have been asking: “When will Pioneer come to satellite TV?”
Station manager and chief engineer Jon Panzer has worked diligently to get Pioneer’s signal to the uplink buildings in the Twin Cities in an affordable way.
“Four years ago it would have cost us more than $50,000 a year and the signal would only have been in standard definition,” Panzer said. “Now we have a high definition signal for half the cost.”
The expense and delay had to do with the complicated chain of connections that had to be created. Panzer spent countless hours negotiating and building connections between Pioneer’s central equipment room in Appleton to the Federated Telephone network in Bellingham to the SDN Communications network based in Sioux Falls, the 511 Building in Minneapolis and finally to the DirecTV building in Oakdale and Dish Network building in St. Paul.
Now viewers with dishes will be able to see Pioneer on Channel 10 in the local station line-up. Pioneer has received support from the Appleton Project to help defray the initial costs of building the satellite connection. It is hoped that funds raised through increased membership and program sponsor support will pay for the ongoing expense of bringing the signal to these viewers
With a satellite signal extending all the way to western Wisconsin on the east and to the Missouri River on the west, Pioneer will have one of the largest geographic viewing areas of any PBS station in the nation emanating from one of the smallest towns in the PBS system.