MOLINE, ILLINOIS (March 15, 2023) — WQPT, the locally owned and operated PBS station is getting ready to celebrate their 40th anniversary serving eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The station is holding a Gala on April 21 at Old Oaks Winery in Milan and tickets are available to attend by visiting Special Guests include Whitney Reynolds of The Whitney Reynolds Show and Jim Mertens, host of The Cities.

What began as a vision by a small group of dedicated citizens in 1983 — with just four hours of daily programming — now reaches more than 800,000 viewers in Iowa and Illinois 24/7. Viewers are able to access programming through over-the-air signals, streaming, cable/dish providers, and on-demand digital delivery. In addition to their primary public television channel, WQPT also broadcasts a secondary channel — Deutsche Welle.

The journey to a local public television station took several years, hundreds of volunteers, and the tireless focus of one man, Robert Fletcher, WQPT’s first General Manager. In the early days, volunteers were recruited at a Friends of WQPT booth located at South Park Mall. One of those recruiters was the first president of the Friends group, a woman named Evelyn Perlmutter, and one of those early volunteers would go on to become WQPT’s fifth General Manager, Rick Best.

WQPT was the first station to switch from analog to digital television in the Quad Cities, and WQPT was the first station in the nation to enter into a public/private relationship to establish their master control offsite through fiber.

WQPT supplements their on-air programming with off-air educational outreach. This includes visits to libraries throughout the region, teaching family learning/ESL classes weekly and partnering with teachers to place free books in the hands of at-risk-children. This past year, they interacted face-to-face with 8,887 people through community events, after school programs and visits to local classrooms.

Over the years WQPT’s events have included Imagination Station, The Ready to Learn Races, Brew Ha Ha, The Wall That Heals, and many more. Programs like a real-time call-in program named Calling Representative Evans, with the late Representative Lane Evans answering calls live on the air, to Currents at the Crossroads, with the late Ellis Kell. Public-affairs programming including shows like Perspective to The Cities with Jim Mertens, now in its thirteenth year on the air. Award-winning documentaries like The River Rescuer: Chad Pregracke to Letters Home to Hero Street, focused on our community and the many amazing things and extraordinary people in the QCA and surrounding area.

WQPT’s license, originally held by Black Hawk College, was transferred to Western Illinois University in 2010, making WQPT a self-sustaining department within the university.

All of this has been made possible by the hard work, volunteerism, and generosity of our viewers, supporters, and grantors. WQPT hopes you’ll join the celebration.

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