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Pioneer PBS suffers catastrophic event, ceasing over-the-air operations.

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GRANITE FALLS, Minn. – Recently, a construction crew working near a Pioneer PBS tower severed major power and fiber optic lines needed to keep Pioneer PBS broadcasting over the air on television. The damaged fiber cannot be fixed and new fiber must be installed. The station has ordered replacement fiber to be run. This event will only affect viewers who rely on over-the-air television. Our regular programming will continue on streaming services and online platforms. 

Pioneer PBS engineering is working diligently to resolve the issue including multiple vendors of equipment needed to get back on the air as soon as possible. The station is assessing the financial implications and the time it will take to return to full service. Currently, Pioneer PBS cannot reasonably forecast a completion timeline and encourages the public to visit its website at for updates. 

There is an impact to Pioneer PBS staffing due to the severity of this damage and repair costs. The board of directors and the general manager are managing the impact while being responsible stewards of public and donor financial support. Pioneer PBS’s local productions and programming, vital to sharing the voices of western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and northern Iowa to the world, will continue to prepare for new seasons next year and specials as early as this fall. 

Pioneer PBS staff have spent many years intensively learning how to implement digital streaming strategies and are dedicated to learning and understanding new ways that allow its audience to have access to their favorite shows. Pioneer PBS continues to operate on its streaming platform, the free PBS app and its social media platforms, including The portion of viewers who do not have capacity to view online, Pioneer PBS is trying to organize community engagement opportunities to bring people together to view their favorite shows.

During the past year, Pioneer PBS made several major investments in upgrading technology to complete its master control move to Granite Falls. Despite aging infrastructure, Pioneer PBS maintained services to most communities during other upgrades. However, this incident requires Pioneer PBS to rebuild its foundational infrastructure. This is a major investment for Pioneer PBS, in the several hundreds of thousands of dollars range.  

During this time of major transformation, Pioneer PBS needs the full support of its members, viewers, board and employees as it works tirelessly through this issue. The station’s top priority is returning broadcast service as soon as possible. Pioneer PBS needs the understanding and continued support of its 45-county community while it works through logistical issues. As a nonprofit, Pioneer PBS membership dollars go to support the services and employees that bring the award-winning productions the world expects from this station.

“The board of directors has pledged to do everything it takes to ensure the continuation of local public broadcasting services to the entire region that Pioneer PBS serves,” said Mark Olson, chairman of the board of Pioneer PBS. “We appreciate our members’ and donors’ financial support, and we are working hard to rebuild Pioneer PBS into an even stronger station than before this horrific incident.” 

Based in Granite Falls, Pioneer PBS is located in one of the smallest towns out of any station in the PBS system and is dedicated to remaining here for the benefit of our region. “Pioneer PBS will need the region’s continued support as it works to keep the station’s services and programs growing into the future,” said General Manager Shari Lamke. “Our mission remains to facilitate educational growth, support cultural opportunities and promote economic development for western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota, northern Iowa and beyond.”