KCTF Receives $500,000 Rapoport Foundation Grant

July 26, 1999

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Waco public television station KCTF today received the largest contribution in the station's history with the announcement of a five-year, $500,000 grant from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.

The gift will allow KCTF to increase its signal reliability, dramatically expand its coverage area, enhance its award-winning educational, cultural and public affairs programming, and prepare for the implementation of digital television.

"The missions of these two local organizations-KCTF and the Rapoport Foundation-are quite complementary and benefit the lives of thousands of Central Texans in every age group," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., who made the grant announcement during a news conference. "KCTF serves as an essential lifelong learning resource providing quality public television programs and services for the enrichment of area residents, and the Rapoport Foundation strives to meet basic human needs while building individual and social resiliency."

"The public owns public broadcasting," said Bernard Rapoport, whose foundation has a history of funding PBS Ready to Learn children's programming on KCTF. "Public broadcasting is the last resource we have to make certain that information is not controlled by anyone except by the public itself."

The first $200,000 of the Rapoport Foundation grant will be applied as matching funds for the station's $1 million digital-capable transmitter and tower upgrading project. Coupled with a pending grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, a 25-year rent-free tower lease with AM/FM Inc. (formerly Gulfstar Communications), and other local funding, the grant will allow KCTF to more than double its viewing audience to over half a million people. In addition, the station will be able to reach 12,000 Central Texas residents who do not currently receive over-the-air public television service. The remaining $300,000 of the grant will provide matching funds to allow the station to upgrade its master control and production facilities in preparation for the digital conversion in 2003.

This digital conversion will lead to a process called "multicasting," where instead of one channel, there will be four. Programming can be specialized for each channel, including channels dedicated to educational programming.

"Digital broadcasting is more than pretty pictures," Sloan said. "It allows the technology to catch up with the mission of public television, and the mission of the Rapoport Foundation."

Multicasting will allow for distributive education channels to be broadcast over the air at different times of the day, breaking down time/place barriers that many students face today. Depending on local needs, programming might also be accompanied by soundtracks in several languages, or by curriculum guides, and by supplementary information for teachers. Properly configured, digital television could even broadcast software or content from the Internet, either to digital television sets or directly to computers, connecting schools, libraries, businesses and universities.

KCTF operates as a community licensee of Brazos Valley Public Broadcasting Foundation, which was transferred to Baylor's control last January. It is governed by a 12-member board of directors composed of community and university leaders.

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