MOLINE, ILLINOIS - Thirty years ago, WQPT, Quad Cities PBS went on the air for the first time with four hours of programming. Nancy Reagan hosted "The Chemical People," and the station held a televised talk back. Since that day Nov. 3, 1983, WQPT has expanded its broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week on its main channel (Mediacom 10 - Ch. 24) and its secondary channel, MHz Worldview.
The station's founding general manager was Robert Fletcher, who spent 10 years laying the groundwork for local public television and headed the station in its early years. Fred Marino followed him from 1986 to1992 and Jerry Sandler from 1992 to 1994. Moss Bresnahan expanded the station's impact in the community, and Rick Best, who started as a WQPT volunteer, business manager and assistant general manager took over general manager duties in 1997, retiring in 2012. Mary Pruess has served as general manager since April 2013.
Milestones in the station's history include the transfer of the WQPT license from Black Hawk College to Western Illinois University in 2010, the conversion to digital transmission in 2005 and the addition of the Sterling/Rock Falls transmitter in March 1991.
"We always seek ways to improve on what we are doing, both on television and in our community," said Pruess. "We are grateful for the support of so many who have made this milestone possible. Our volunteers, partners, sponsors and our faithful members have made it possible for WQPT to reach 30 years, and with their continued support, the sky is the limit."
The WQPT- exclusive series, "The Cities with Jim Mertens," began in 2009. Other long-run series that have called WQPT home include "Perspective" and "Life and Time," hosted by Susan McPeters. "Get Movin,'" "Artists in Profile," "Originals at RME," "Recipe Re-Do," and "Dining In" were produced by WQPT, and "Romper Room," produced by WQAD, found a home in the late afternoon on WQPT. Throughout the years, the station has produced documentaries like "3 Esthers" and "Chad Pregracke: The River Rescuer," along with such special performances as "The Nutcracker," "Dracula" and "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play."
WQPT has won numerous national awards including an Emmy nomination for "Scattergood," two CINE Golden Eagle Awards, Telly Awards, the PBS Sterling Award and others.
While education was always at the core of the WQPT mission, the "Ready to Learn Initiative" began in 1995. Since that time, WQPT has distributed more than 123,000 books to low literate, low-income children and has conducted more than 1,600 workshops in area schools.
WQPT will air a history of the station, "WQPT: Thirty Years, A Million Thanks," on Friday, November 1 at 7:30 pm and November 2 at 6:30 pm.
WQPT is a media service of Western Illinois University located in Moline, Illinois.