Bristol, VA

PBS Appalachia Virginia and Hard Rock Bring Public TV's First All-Digital Station

John M. Dabbs

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WTTG morning newscast in 2019Photo byWikiwand/Creative Commons

BRISTOL, Va. - A media revolution is underway in Southwest Virginia as PBS Appalachia Virginia steps into uncharted territory with the launch of the nation's first all-digital public television station. The innovative platform, set to go live on Saturday, June 10, results from a unique partnership with global entertainment brand Hard Rock International.

The novel concept aims to expand the reach of regional broadcasting, breaking past traditional boundaries with online streaming services via the website PBSAVirginia.org and the dedicated PBS Appalachia Virginia mobile app. The programs will also be accessible worldwide on-demand at PBS.org or through the mobile app.

"This is a groundbreaking venture, not just for PBS Appalachia and Hard Rock, but for the entire community," says Julie Newman, General Manager of PBS Appalachia and former news anchor of WCYB-TV. "We're stepping into a new digital broadcasting era with an unprecedented community-focused strategy."

The collaboration also involves the creation of a state-of-the-art television studio housed within the Hard Rock Bristol location. The resort and casino will dedicate 4,000 square feet of its area to a visually-striking, glass-encased television studio with a podcast studio and control room.

Visitors to the resort can witness the magic of television production in progress or enjoy local shows on a grand virtual wall during non-production hours. This new venue is expected to become a high-traffic attraction, elevating the region's media landscape.

The station has set its sights on sharing the authentic voice of Central Appalachia with the world, celebrating the region's progress and culture, and debunking stereotypes. PBS Appalachia promises content that resonates with the heart of Appalachia, featuring local producers and award-winning programming.

On its debut, PBS Appalachia will launch three exclusive local series: "French Magnolia Cooks," a culinary expedition through Southwest Virginia; "Hometowns," a heartwarming journey into the region's communities; and "The Life of a Musician," a captivating insight into the lives of talented guitarists. These series have already drawn critical acclaim, with eight Emmy nominations, five Telly Awards, and two VAB Awards.

This digital revolution was realized through restored state support and the relentless efforts of VA State Sen. Todd Pillion (R) and VA Del. Israel O'Quinn (R). The budget amendment for Fiscal Year 2023 has paved the way for establishing PBS Appalachia, promising a bright future for public media in Southwest Virginia.

With this pioneering venture, PBS Appalachia Virginia and Hard Rock Bristol are creating a new era of public media, blending traditional programming with digital broadcasting, and promising an enriching and engaging experience for viewers across the region and beyond.

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John is An outdoor enthusiast passionate about travel and adventure, a consultant, author, and journalist.

Bristol, TN
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