Panzer was an Eagle Scout, (Order of the Arrow, Vigil Level) in high school and he brought this proven ability to focus and serve in a leadership capacity to Pioneer. “When I started working here, I hate to say it, but to be honest, things were a mess,” Panzer said. “I have spent 25 years cleaning stuff up and putting things in order.” In the past 25 years Panzer has overseen and directed a complete rebuild of the station from the cameras, to master control to the tower system and transmitters. He wrote, secured and delivered on more than $5 million in state and federal grants that have helped pay for everything from new towers, the conversion to digital broadcasting, a mobile studio and a system of backup generators.
Panzer taught himself a lot about what he knows by reading trade magazines and books and from his co-workers at Pioneer. “Back in the early days, we just did a lot of things without knowing that we couldn’t or maybe shouldn’t do them and we learned by doing, “ he said. His first boss was visionary General Manager Ansel Doll and “he was always trying something new,” Panzer said. “Ansel knew how to raise money and network with people,” Panzer said. “But he was not big on the details. In many cases, Ansel would get something started but I and many others here at the station had to pull it off. Nevertheless, I miss him,” he added.
Looking to the future of broadcast television and rural public media, Panzer is up for the challenge. “The mainstream broadcast media has abandoned the rural midwest -- we are the only ones left,” he said. “We are here to tell the stories and we are going to have to do that in cheaper, quicker ways while still maintaining the standard of quality that PBS is known for.”
According to Panzer, the capability to produce high quality content has never been greater, but “it is never about the equipment, it is about the people who run the equipment.” Fortunately, Pioneer has dedicated production staff who have been working together to produce award winning programing in recent years.
“My hope is that we will continue to attract people to get involved, invest in the future and have fun,” Panzer said. “There is so much potential.”
Pioneer Public Television is a viewer supported PBS station dedicated to sharing the art and culture of local communities with the world. For more information call 800-726-3178 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.