In Business: A Look Behind the Scenes as Lakeland News Celebrates 25 Years
This week is special for Lakeland News as the newscast and its crew celebrate 25 years on July 13. But staying on the air for that long doesn’t come without behind-the-scenes support.
Since 1998, Lakeland News has brought local coverage to north central Minnesota. Now, with the 25th anniversary just around the corner, both those in front of the cameras and behind the scenes are looking at how this coverage has impacted the area.
“Blows my mind that time has flown this fast,” said current Lakeland PBS CEO Jeff Hanks. “When Lakeland News started, we decided to make that shift away from doing some of these local productions into doing Lakeland News.”
“It was a learning experience back then,” explained weathercaster and former reporter Stacy Christenson, who has been around since the show began. “We were going through all of the steps to try and actually make this happen. So it was a lot of cold calls to people explaining what we were doing, trying to make contacts, to find story ideas.”
“I thought it was a great idea from day one because there was nothing here,” noted Master Control Lead Operator Dave Sievert. “So the fact that we could cover this stuff, that was really kind of neat.”
Over 120 reporters have worked for Lakeland News, and some have even filled in as anchors at times. But not all have worked in the current building. In 2015, Lakeland PBS and its news department moved into the Grant Avenue location from Deputy and Bangsberg Halls at Bemidji State University.
While the coverage is brought to viewers by the reporters, those behind the scenes are the ones making sure Lakeland News continues to stay on-air for years to come.
“We get support from people who appreciate what we do enough to make a phone call or go online and actually say, ‘I want to pledge this money because I appreciate it and I enjoy what’s going on,'” said Christenson about the support a non-profit like Lakeland PBS has from the community.
As part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations, Lakeland News will hold a pint night at Bemidji Brewing on Wednesday, July 12. An open house will be held the next day, July 13, at both the Bemidji and Brainerd studios from 4 until 7 p.m.