Lakeland PBS In Brainerd Celebrates 30 Years
After Lakeland PBS was started in Bemidji as KAWE in 1980, the station set out to serve a larger audience and put up a transmitter for the Brainerd Lakes Area in 1988.
“The way the Brainerd office came about is really due to the support of people in central Minnesota, people wanting a local public television station there,” said Bill Sanford, Lakeland PBS General Manager.
The only location for KAWB at first was a small building by the transmitter, just north of Pillager.
“It quickly evolved to the point where we felt we needed an established presence right here in the heart of the Brainerd Lakes Area,” said David Henschke, a member of the KAWB Community Advisory Council.
Nearly 10 years later, the actual Brainerd studio came to life.
“Until I was hired in 1997 and I worked out of my home for a couple of years, doing fundraising,” said Dan Hegstad, KAWB Corporate Support Manager. “Then, two years later we opened our studio and office here.”
Playing a large role in the space in Brainerd is Lakeland News, which went on air for the first time in 1998, and since then, many reporters have called Brainerd home.
“It makes me smile thinking that we have come a long way,” Henschke said.
Also making the journey is the champagne bottle that was broken into at the groundbreaking 30 years ago today.
“Hopefully, this will be around for at least another 30 years, long after we are all gone,” Hegstad said with a chuckle.
But looking towards the future, the Brainerd studio could soon see some changes.
“It really needs to be updated, so we are looking at options of doing that right now,” Sanford said.
The end goal, of course, is to provide local television in the Brainerd community.
“The fact that we are celebrating 30 is pretty special,” Sanford said.