Woodward, Okla. —
As the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority approaches a 55th year of public broadcasting, its leaders are in the process of preparing for the future.
"We're working on a strategic plan to set us on the path for the next 3 years," said Executive Director Dan Schiedel during a meeting at the Woodward Conference Center on Friday. "Then we will put together an action plan we can actually launch this fall."
OETA executives and consultants were in Woodward as part of their statewide "listening tour" to gather ideas of what viewers like, don't like or would like to see.
The tour started in Lawton and will also include stops in Tulsa, Durant and Oklahoma City.
"We're trying to get feedback from communities involved with the future of the network," Schiedel said.
A number of ideas were expressed by residents attending the meeting, including:
• Trying to get the OETA news back to a nightly show. Currently, the news is on Friday's only due to budget cuts.
• Possible programs promoting agritourism and ecotourism, areas of tourism that continue to grow and bring people to the state with events like the recent Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Woodward.
• Programs studying how "we govern ourselves," to explain how government operates at all levels.
• Continued human interest stories and documentaries
• Developing ideas of how people can submit video from events across the state.
• Possibly using university students to shoot footage of events in different parts of the state - the OETA is testing that idea with Cameron University.
• Devise ways to make public television more aware to residents by using e-mail blasts, social media and podcasts.
The executive director pointed out that OETA has 4 high powered transmitters and 14 translators to cover the state and is the only television operation that serves all of Oklahoma.
In addition to programming, he said the network can be used for emergency communications and Amber Alerts, among other things.
Schiedel said the OETA viewership is about 1.8 million who tune in on a weekly basis.
He said the OETA website (oeta.tv) also is important in a number of ways, including education as visitors can access free content for every different aspect of education.
Called by officials "Oklahoma's Classroom," the website offers some 20,000 teaching tools including virtual field trips, public health education, adult literacy and GED programs.
Schiedel said OETA is funded through government and private resources as non-commercial televisions is prohibited by the FCC from selling and airing commercial advertisements.
He said around $2 million is raised each your through festivals and donations with the rest coming from state and federal dollars.
According to OETA information, for every $1 the state invests, they are able to raise $3 to assist with programming.
"OETA is one of the most watched public networks in the nation," Schiedel said.