WQPT-TV will save an estimated $300,000 a year when it changes its programming model, the Quad-City PBS station’s general manager said Friday morning.

The station unveiled its new programming lineup to the news media, with about one-fourth of its present PBS shows retained, many of those in new time periods.

WQPT’s new schedule begins next week.

“The new schedule … is designed to provide a greater variety of programs in television markets where most of the viewers have access to more than one public television station, as is true in the Quad-Cities region,” general manager Rick Best said. “Our intent is to improve the variety of programs by eliminating some of the duplication between stations and focusing on those genres that have the most appeal to viewers in this region.”

Best told members of the Greater Quad-Cities Telecommunications Commission board earlier this month that surveys of local viewers have shown that nature and history programs are the most popular.

The move to the different programming model began when Black Hawk College, which has held the broadcast license and housed the station since it signed on nearly 25 years ago, eliminated funding for WQPT with the 2007-08 budget and took steps toward selling the station’s license and equipment. Although the college has dropped those plans for lack of a buyer, Best said the station conceivably could be housed in a new location someday.

The need for the Public Broadcasting System’s program differentiation plan, or PDP, became more apparent when Iowa Public Television continued to make inroads into the Quad-City market, he said. Although the statewide network has had a repeater tower in Davenport for several years, it recently began broadcasting its digital signal from a tower in Orion, Ill. — the same tower from which WQPT broadcasts.

“Once PBS saw there was an obvious overlap of programming services there, it was an easy decision for them to make” to approve the PDP, Best said.

WQPT program manager Jerry Myers said he now has 675 hours of new PBS programming to schedule per year, compared with 2,700 hours under the previous arrangement. Myers said he is working mainly with three different public broadcasting syndicators to make up the difference and has secured such series as “Wild!” which is nature programs; “The History Project,” a collection of history programming from around the world; and classic episodes of “Sherlock Holmes” with Jeremy Brett as the famed sleuth.

The station also can rerun any of the programs in its library that it has aired in the past three years, Myers said.

“I have a great amount of freedom, which means I have to be more aware of what’s in the library,” he added.

Stations with a PDP also can exchange programming, he said. He already has received boxes of tapes from the PBS station based at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Myers said.

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The change also means additional local programming, Best said. Besides “Perspective” and “Quad-City Life & Times,” the station is adding a healthy cooking show, “Recipe Re-Do,” premiering at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, and has in the works a weekly media roundtable, a program to teach kids fitness in cooperation with local YMCAs and a program directed at those 50 years and older in the Quad-City area.


Here are some of the changes WQPT is making in its programming schedule, beginning next week.

The weekday daytime schedule will remain the same from the 7 a.m. sign-on until 10 a.m. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (minus the “Charlie Rose” rerun that remains from 1 to 2 p.m.), children’s programming will leave, and different themed packages of shows for adults will be in their place. Monday will feature gardening and home design; Tuesday, woodworking and home improvement; Wednesday, sewing and crafts; Thursday, international relations; and Friday, cooking and fitness.

“Sesame Street” will rerun at 3 p.m., followed by “Arthur,” “Wordgirl” and “Reading Rainbow.” A 5:30 p.m. airing of “Charlie Rose” will lead into a 6:30 p.m. block that includes some local programming as well as programs on inventors and nature.

Many of the well-known PBS titles will be on at new days and times:

- “Antiques Roadshow” moves from 7 p.m. Mondays to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 p.m. Fridays.

- “Nova” moves from 8 p.m. Tuesdays to 7 p.m. Sundays.

- “Nature” goes from 7 p.m. Sundays to 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

- “Classic Gospel” will add a 7 p.m. Monday airing to its 8 p.m. Saturday schedule.

- “American Experience” moves from 8 p.m. Mondays to 7 p.m. Tuesdays.

David Burke can be contacted at (563) 383-2400 or dburke@qctimes.com.

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