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Prairie Public Television

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prairie Public
TypeTerrestrial state public broadcasting network
First air date
KFME: January 19, 1964
PPT network: 1974
Broadcast area
North Dakota, Northwest Minnesota, Eastern Montana, Southern Manitoba
additional coverage in portions of northern South Dakota and southern Saskatchewan
Canadian cable coverage in portions of Manitoba and northwestern Ontario
OwnerPrairie Public Broadcasting
Key people
John E. Harris III, CEO
Former names
North Central Educational Television
9 full-power television stations,
3 translator stations
Prairie Public Radio (NPR)
Callsign meaning
Second and third letters: see table below
AffiliationPBS (1970–present), American Public Television
NET (1964–1970)
Official website

Prairie Public Television is a state network of public television stations operated primarily by Prairie Public Broadcasting. It comprises all of the PBS member stations in the U.S. state of North Dakota.

The state network is available via flagship station KFME in Fargo and eight satellite stations covering all of North Dakota, plus portions of Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota. It also has substantial viewership in portions of the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. PPT is also available on most satellite and cable television outlets serving North Dakota.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Prairie Churches
  • ✪ PBS Kids Program Break (2016 Prairie Public Cable-Winnipeg)
  • ✪ Homesteading
  • ✪ Prairie School Television (c. 1988)
  • ✪ Minot Rebuilding Dreams


(choir) Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound (Tom Isern) All these steeples, the vertical spikes in our prairie horizons. They look like exclamation points, but I think maybe they're question marks. Where did all these churches come from? Who built them, and where did those people go to? And what does it mean, when every other material expression of who those people were is gone, but the steeples remain? They're expressions of faith I'm sure, but I think maybe more than one kind of faith. And that leaves us to contemplate not only what we can learn about these prairie chuhes, but what we can learn from them. ...was blind but now I see. (woman) Production funding for "Prairie Churches" is provided by grants from... and by... [piano plays softly] (Loretta Bernhoft) My father was baptized, confirmed, married, and buried through this church. This has been where I was baptized, confirmed, married, and expect to be buried from. Vikur Lutheran Church was founded by immigrants from Iceland, and it's 125 years old. It unfortunately, these days is used quite often for funerals. We don't have a lot of baptisms and weddings anymore, again, because of rural declining population, but we have some dedicated people who want to make sure that we keep the building in good shape. [acoustic guitar plays] As we were working on the kneeling rail for the altar, we needed to take off the pad and preserve the fabric so we could resow a new kneeling pad, and when we pulled the old kneeling pad away, we learned that for over 100 years people have been kneeling on straw. There are times when you're doing projects like this that it really takes you back to what our ancestors had to work with and how they struggled to do the best they can with what they had and obviously did a beautiful job. When the settlers came and first set down their roots here, their main social activity or event was a gathering for worship services. So the church was the focus of their social life as well as their spiritual life. And we've really come full circle because we don't have a school anymore. We've lost a lot of the businesses that used to be here, so really, now our church is once again not only our spiritual life, but our social life because that's where we see people. If we only see them once a week, we see them in church. So that remains a a very strong part of our community, and maybe that's part of the reason we would hate to see the churches close, because then we may all go in different directions to worship, and that would further break those ties of the small rural community which we don't want to see happening. [choir sings a wordless melody] (Tom Isern) I think for most people who are caring for country churches, they're doing it as an homage. They had ancestors or predecessors in the community that they thk should be remembered, and that church is the material remembrance from those people. But I have to say in some cases it is just pure cussed stubbornness that has kept them going! There have been a family or a couple of families that say, we're not gonna let the place die. Many times with a church that's completely lost its constituency, it does come down to one or a very few, and a person can do that when you think about it because these churches have lost cash value, and people will buy a country church and say, I'm going to see that it stays around. Often they don't have the means to do the rehabilitation themselves, but you can stop a wrecking ball yourself. Rehabilitating and maintaining a country church has a lot of investment in terms of sweat equity involved. It doesn't necessarily require enormous outlays of cash, and the groups that you see trying to restore and maintain rural churches, you don't find them conducting massive capital campaigns. They rely heavily on volunteers, and they scrounge materials. It's really pretty heartening what people can accomplish, and if you can keep a church tight-- you know the basics for keeping a building together. It's the roof and the foundation. If you can keep those essentials together, you can basically put the church into safekeeping. Well, I've had a hand myself in helping to preserve some of the prairie churches in North Dakota, and I'd have to say that's a point of pride, and I think it's worth doing, not just because of the purposes of the people immediately involved with that particular church but because we hold these in trust. Of course, I'm a believer in the future of the northern plains, and I actually believe there will be a realized purpose for these buildings if nothing else because they make a place a place. (man) We pray in Jesus' name, Ame. You may be seated. I have no doubt that large numbers of prairie churches can be saved, but it depends on people believing there's some reason to save them. It's not a matter of shortage of resources. It's a matter of shortage of faith. The prairie churches are just a symbol of the way things are on the northern plains in that we have more history than we have people and taking care of our history, in particular our material history then, it sufferers just from the lack of available people. It's a logistical problem. I happen to have faith things will work out better in the future, and if we gamble some resources on making that happen, have we lost that much? Won't we feel the better for having done it in the present anyway? Let's invest a little faith. [piano plays "Faith of our Fathers"] This church was closed in 1984 over Christmas service. I was the youngest member of the congregation. In 1995, we had an auction sale. I bought a lot of the furnishings in here-- the pews, the altar, the baptism font. I used my own money. I was single at that time, and it was close to about $4000 I spent on furnishings. They decided, well, if you're serious about buying the furnishings, maybe you want to buy the church? So I bought the church from the cemetery association, and we kept it. I got married probably within 2 months after that, so my wife had inherited this little project too, and she was very supportive of that. It gets difficult sometimes, the financial part of it. It's a big building. It's a lot of work sometimes, and too, as a farmer trying to save time to work on the church, do your farming, it's hard to manage sometimes. It means a lot to our family. This church was organized over at my farm with my great grandparents. We were there at the beginning and also at the very end. We'd kept it, not just for our family, but for other families to use and to visit. Usually, once a year, we had a Christmas service or a summer service. We've had baptisms, we've had a wedding. We do get a handful of visitors every year saying that "I was baptized here." "I was married here." "I had my confirmation here." So it's a nice thing to see that they like it, and they appreciate it. There is a lot of memories inside these walls. There's a lot of memories. This has been a very rewarding project. I enjoy it. I enjoy seeing the church. I enjoy driving by it. Even when you're working out in the field, it's nice to see the church there. This is where I can see for miles away and say okay, there's the church, I know where I'm at. This is my lighthouse on the prairie. [piano plays "How Great Thou Art"] [orchestra plays] (woman) Hallelujah (Gerald Paliwor) Every time you're driving along and you see a church that looks very familiar if you check into the history of it, a lot of the times, you'll find the name Father Philip Ruh associated with that church. He was a very motivated individual, as you might guess by the design of the building and the adjacent grotto, and as well, he's credited with over 40 works in Canada. He was a self-taught architect. He didn't have any formal training in architecture. He was just very well read, and as I mentioned, he was obviously a very motivated individual because you look at some of his works and you imagine that, how would you even go about designing a place like this? Well he was, like I say, obviously a quite an intelligent fellow. Now, he was originally a Roman Catholic priest from Alsace-Lorraine, but due to the shortage of Ukrainian Catholic missionaries in Canada, he was asked to convert to the Eastern rite. So he was sent to the Ukraine for several years, where he learned the language, then he migrated to Canada. How he ended up in Cook's Creek, the faithful of the area had heard of Father Ruh's prowess as an architect and had petitioned to have him come to Cook's Creek to help build a new church. The Bishop sent him out here to have a look. His exact words were, "What a God forsaken place this is!" He wrote back to the Bishop, are you sure this is what you want me to do, and the Bishop replied yes, this is where you will serve. So he said it was not his will that he be in Cook's Creek, but it is "The Will" that I be here so I shall serve. Now, the interesting thing is-- that was in 1930 that he arrived, and they started building the church, and he was the resident priest until 1962 when he passed away. So we presume the place kind of grew on him a little bit. Some considered him quite gruff and quite forward and abrupt, but if you look at any project of great scale, usually the person that's driving the project has to be a very take-charge individual. So for some he might have been a little on the rough side. Imagine trying to get a group of volunteers moving in a direction on a project, not only such a large project, but for such a long time-- we're talking 22 years. If you talk to the old-timers of the area, like my father, and even today, I was talking with him and he was telling stories of when he was 14 years old, helping to build the church, and how Father Ruh would be pitching in, and his hands, Father Ruh's hands, were much rougher than any of the other laborers because he was always, always a very hands-on laborer. He didn't supervise the job just. He also was involved with the pitching and the throwing of whatever materials were required. He had his lighter moments as well, and he, well, to put it bluntly, had some of the best moonshine in the area! [laughs] And he was known for it! So quite a character when you get right down to it. It started in 1930, and there literally was no work to be found in The Depression. They would donate their labor to the church, and that was how the church was constructed. Another interesting note was there was no machinery allowed in the building of the church, not even a cement mixer. So when you look at everything in the church and imagine how could that be built by hand? Well, that's exactly how it was built. Father Ruh was very strict that it be built by the hand of man for the Glory of God. So that was your "hammer and a nail, shovel, and a pail" was the tools of the trade. There was a lot of innovative thinking when the structure was being built how to make it look like marble, and the pillars outside and all that, and a lot of it was local materials they were able to come up with and some very clever work in the design of it. He realized not to overstep your bounds 'cause in his own writings, it was "slow and sure," better than "speedy and bankrupt," especially at that time when resources were strained, moneywise. And manpowerwise, he worked with what was available, and he raised what was needed by whatever means, be it dances, bingo's-- you name it. He raised funds, and he built as the funds were available. He said there would be no debt incurred in the building of the church, and they never did. Now, it took 22 years to build. It was completed in 1952, then it was consecrated in 1954 and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (woman) Ave Maria gratia plena, Maria gratia plena, Maria gratia plena. Ave ave Dominus. Dominus te-cum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus. Et benedictus. Et benedictus fructus ventris, Ventris tui Iesus. Ave Maria. [piano plays] (Rolf Berg) This has been our home all our life. My wife and I both have attended this church. We were both baptized here just a couple weeks apart and both went to Sunday school here, were confirmed in the same class, and my hope and prayer is that it can continue running in the years ahead. This church is the Viking Lutheran Church. We had the dedication of this building in 1909. At that time, we were considered the biggest rural church, Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, between Minneapolis and the West Coast. I think anytime we have people come here and tour, they can't believe the windows that are here, and the rare thing about them is how they got here without any problem. When you stop and think about that, you marvel at what these people have done here and the work that they've done to build this church. Most of the material came on train and was carted by horses! And these picture windows, and all the things in this church were brought here on wagon boxes. [orchestra plays "the Hallelujah Chorus"] I went to Bismarck, and I went up to the historical society, and I said, I'd like to have you see something in Maddock. I'll never forget that day 'cause Lou Hefernil walked in, and he looked up at the chandelier and looked at that window and looked at that window. He said "Rolf, you don't know what you've got here, do you?" I says "Lou, that's why you're here." Well he said, "The chandelier and the windows," he said, "I'm considering they're more valuable than the rest of the building you have here. The value on them is unbelievable." So in 1979, we were listed on The National Registry. One thing I notice about our rural churches, the membership of these churches are more permanent. They want to keep what they've got. The people all feel a part of the building itself, and I think that's why the building is still here and maintained as such because they're very proud of the architecture, the stained-glass windows, and then the fact that many of them, it's their grandpa and grandmas that have done this work. And so all they're doing is continuing, not because they feel they have to, but because they want to continue the heritage that was here down through the years. [orchestra plays "the Hallelujah Chorus"] [pipe organ plays "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"] (Ronald Ramsay) Buildings are total sensory experiences. Too often because architecture involves objects, we tend to think of them as exclusively visual things. They're not. Next time we go to a religious service, start to pay attention to all 5 of your senses. Don't just look at the building, but listen to it, smell it, and there are even instances where we taste buildings, especially churches that, old masonry churches, that begin to develop rising damp, and you walk in and you can almost taste the mildew in it. Coming to church and attending a service is a multisensory experience. When people began arriving here in the middle of the 19th century, they were bringing a certain expectation about what a church was supposed to look like, came with a kind of architectural baggage of the motherland, and whether you built that in wood or masonry or tin or stucco didn't really matter very much. It was the form. You can read a building from the outside, what's going on on the inside, and in many instances, you can probably predict who's inside. Certainly the Scandinavian churches have a kind of sparseness to them. I think if you go back to the history of the Scandinavian immigration, many of the people who came, especially from Norway, were Hauge Lutherans, and Hauge Lutheranism was a Lutheranism of deprivation. It was learning how to find sanctity in having less rather than having more. And so all these Hauge Lutherans came here and built churches that were lean and spare and stripped of ornamentation because from their theological perspective, ornament was sin. A pair of towers, either identical or mismatched, probably a pretty good indication that Roman Catholics are in there. Coming from Eastern Europe, most of the Eastern churches took as their pattern the Orthodox pattern of Eastern Christianity with domes of one sort or another that were not nearly as prominent in the West. And so here we have another ethnic group bringing an expectation with them of what a church is supposed to look like. It's supposed to look like the ones back home. The building is, after all, a glove, and the hand that's in the glove are the people and the liturgical practice. The glove is going to take its form from the hand, and it's important as a people that we keep certain examples to remind us of where we've come from and how far we've come and how far perhaps we have yet to go. When you look at the building like this, where at the time, there were maybe 50 or 60 people in the community, somebody had a lot of vision to build something like that. I'm sure some of them must've called them, I don't know, maybe "crazy" to build such a big place that would hold 500 people when there's only 50 or 60 people. But it's often filled up. Our church is Saint Joachim Chevaliers De La Broquerie. It was completed in 1901. The bricks were manufactured just outside of town here. I know that the wood was made, cut, and sawed by the first pioneers, so we're very proud of our church. You can see the architecture is something that we're very proud of. I don't know how they did it, you know, when there wasn't as many people to maintain a place like this. It must've been difficult. Now it's quite costly just to heat it. I remember when I was a kid, they didn't heat the church like all week in the wintertime. It was just wood furnaces, and the wood was supplied by the parishioners. In some places I've seen some beautiful churches that they said ah, it's not worth fixing, it's too old, so they let it go, and then they have to tear it down and build something else, and I think it's something lost. We're lucky that we still have our church. It's part of our culture, of our heritage so it's nice to keep those things. If you throw away this, you throw away part of history. [pipe organ plays "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring] (Burt Imhoff) We have people come here from all over the world, and they can't figure out what this art is doing out here in the middle of nowhere. Did he donate pictures to churches in Saskatchewan? Definitely. A lot of churches he did for free of charge. My grandfather originally came from Germany. From Germany, he immigrated to Reading, Pennsylvania. From Reading, Pennsylvania, at his late 40's, he moved up here to St. Walburg, Saskatchewan. He came up here on a hunting trip with some people he knew, and there was inexpensive land up here at that time, so he bought land, and he liked the area, and he moved up here. They moved in 1914. He hired other people to work his land and to break it because he wasn't a farmer. He was an artist, and that's all he did. He decorated a lot of churches. He was trained in art schools in Holland, Dusseldorf in Germany. Most of his work was done in the States, in the Dakotas and mostly around Pennsylvania. The list we have of all the churches he did was over 90, but obviously, he did a lot more than that because there are some churches that he did that we haven't got lists of. We're at the Imhoff studio, the working gallery of my husband's grandfather Berthold Von Imhoff. He started all these paintings in charcoal first, and then he would put 3 coats of oil. And he also only painted by the north light because he also had to mix his own colors. Couldn't buy the colors that he used at that time. That's why all the windows in this studio are on the north side, and he could get the true colors that way. When they would contact him to do a church, he had numerous amounts of small paintings, like you see them all around the side over here. He'd take those with him, and they would pick out what they wanted in a church, and then he would paint it in life size. All the pictures that he did were done right in this building, and then they were taken down to the church and then put up, unless it was a curved area like over an altar or a curved dome or something, then the canvases were put up, and they were painted right in the building right there. Even though they lived up here in Saskatchewan, they would go back to the States and do projects. When they did the large church in Reading, Pennsylvania, they moved down there. We're in the St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. This is undoubtedly Berthold Imhoff's masterpiece. At the top of the ceiling here are 224 life-sized figures processing towards the altar. In the sanctuary, we see St. Paul preaching to the people of the East and St. Peter preaching to the peoples of the West. Berthold received a commission from St. Peter's Church to paint this procession of Saints, and he did this at his studio at St. Walburg, Saskatchewan, and put the paintings on a train, and he and his son Carl came down here and installed the paintings in approximately the mid 1920's. When he moved up here, yeah, he was well off, but everything he made in churches, he would put back in his canvases. He painted when he didn't have commissions. All the ones you see in here today, he just painted to paint-- no sale for him-- He never did sell a picture. He never painted a picture to sell. It was just churches that he was commissioned to do. In the United States, he did very well. Everything he had, he paid for with the work of his artwork. Much of the work he did in the churches in Saskatchewan, often they were donated. It was important to him that they had something that reminded them maybe of their homeland 'cause a lot of these were European people, and the churches were decorated beautifully there, and so he would give them a gift that way, a reminder of their homeland. And also even in worship, the art helped them because it drew them to thinking of things that were say, removed from everyday life. A decoration from the Pope came in 1937. He was knighted with the Knighthood of Saint Gregory the Great. It was befitting that knighthood was bestowed on him because Saint Gregory the Great was noted for his charity. He used his wealth to the good of everybody. When he died, he was not well off at all. He was in fact very poor, so for helping with Mrs. Imhoff, his wife gave a painting to the undertaker because there was no money. He was a very spiritual person, and I wouldn't say so much religious as very faithful. He had a faith, and he had a goodness in him. I mean, he had to have to have given so much, not only in his artwork but in other charity too. Like if somebody was hard up, he would help them out, and that was not known until after he died. (choir) Faith of our fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword. Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy Whene'er we hear that glorious Word! Faith of our fathers, holy faith. We will be true to thee till death. [resonant clanging of a churchbell] (man) Let us pray. Most high God in the heavens cannot contain, we give you thanks for the gifts of those who have built and maintain this house of prayer. We used to have a membership that was very large here. (man) You made all things. (John Boen) We have a picture down in the basement of one of the special occasions up here. That photo is approximately 3 feet long to cover the number of people here, and they were all church members. And now when we took one about 10 years ago, that's about 10 by 12 inches square. We are struggling to keep the church going. It has been here for 134 years, so we'll try and make it go for a few more. I believe my great grandfather was a member of this church. I've been a member here all my life. Betty and I were married here, and our 2 daughters were married here. [piano plays softly] It's had many good happy events, but it'll be a shame to board up the windows. I hope it doesn't happen in my day. [violin plays softly] (Sheldon Green) Saints Peter and Paul Church in Strasburg, North Dakota, really is symbolic of the immigrant experience. Yes, they came to the New World, and they came to start fresh, but they also came as people of faith just like they had been in the Ukraine. They did not leave that behind. The Strasburg church was built in 1909 to 1911 at a cost of $45,000, so at that time that was the finest building for miles around. The feeling among the German Catholics was only the best house for God, and so there was this tradition that the church was the finest that they could possibly build. We're going to spare no expense. In fact, there was a real feeling that we must sacrifice personally, or our family must, in order to build this magnificent house. When Saints Peter and Paul Church was being built, not everyone was 100% behind donating their own labor to build the church. Some of them thought just if I pay the money, I can stay at home and farm. And so there were several vocal farmers that said, why should I give up my time to build this church when my work is needed at home? And it wasn't more than a few days after that that severe hailstorms swept through the area, and the hail decimated crops far and wide. Generally they destroyed the fields of the people who were vocal about not wanting to give their labor to the church. The people who had sent laborers in or sent sons or fathers in to work on the church, somehow their crops were spared. And so the following day, the work site at the church was swelled with all these farmers wanting to come in and work. Apparently, they didn't want to run the risk of hail again. As soon as the building was finished, a lot of the parishioners started donating statuary art in honor of an immigrant or a family member. Quickly the church filled. There's something like a dozen angels. There's 10 statues to saints. There's the glass windows. Most of these were given in the name of someone that was being honored or recalled. There was a priest in Strasburg in the 1980's that wanted to remove the high altar, and during the congregational meeting when this was put out, there was a voice from the back said, "If that altar moves, your backside will be filled with buckshot!" And so the diocese moved that priest to a different church. The parishioners in Strasburg wanted to maintain that link with their European past and honoring the pioneers that came. They didn't want to touch anything. Over and over and over again, the people who are most familiar with these rural heritage gems, are the least impressed by them because they're so used to them. They've seen them all their lives, and they seem to have an impression that it's the same way all over. They're everywhere, so why should we save this one? It takes someone who's not from the area to say no, this is really special. You guys really have to do something with this. The Manitoba Prairie Churches Project has 2 principle funders. It's the Thomas Sill Foundation of Winnipeg and the Kaplan Fund out of New York City. Being with the Manitoba Culture Heritage and Tourism Historic Resources Branch, we often help people when they come to us to try and organize a project to save something. I got a call from the Kaplan Fund in New York City, and they were funding a prairie churches program in Saskatchewan and North Dakota. It was like a cross-border northern plains thing that they were doing, and they were saying well, do you have any interest in churches in Manitoba? Oh, do we have an interest in churches? We probably have the best variety of country churches on the whole continent. You have to come see them. Here we've got Mennonites and Poles and Icelanders. It's just a wonderful, wonderful variety, and the churches are part of that cultural landscape which again, sadly, is disappearing. And if you are fortunate enough to drive around and see some of these, you'll see what I mean. They're all different. Some are just spectacular churches, and I don't know who the architects were. Some of them look like Turkish mosques. Some of them look like simple little gable roofs with a teeny-weeny little dome where the mammas and the grandmas and the grandpas and the grandkids all came to help out. We've got quite a few churches that are preserved. There is a couple of churches not far from here that haven't been used as churches since the mid '60's, and they're just now religious landmarks. The people who used to go there or have family buried there, they go back, and they cut the grass and paint the church every 10 years and roof it, and it hasn't been used like for 30 years as a church, but it's this wonderful landmark in the countryside attesting to the settlers and what once was here. So even though it's only used once a year or not at all doesn't mean you can't save it as a landmark. So every little one's a big success because it was part of the cultural landscape, and it would be really, really sad to have what used to be a landscape dotted with grain elevators and churches and domes poking up over the tree line than to have nothing on the landscape. So things like this are very important to preserve. [choir sings] (Dot Connolly) We were sitting at the restaurant, a bunch of women and myself, and somebody came in and sad vandals have broken into the church. We walked through the doo, and as you walk in, there's a large red carpe. In the center of the carpet, the cross lay on the floor smashed in 2. There was cigarette butts, and there were pop cans and beer cans. The icons on the wall as you go into the iconostas were stabbed in the heart. The people felt such a feeling of sadness. It was just overwhelming to think here's another thing that is lost, another part of the community, sort of the final nail in the coffin. I had my granddaughter with me, and she said Grandma, why don't you fix it up? Why don't you patch the roo, paint the walls, and patch up the cracks? And I thought what do we have to lose? We still all figured that there was no way, but we thought, well, we'll try. And so we tried one step and the next step and the next step. The first thing to do was the basement which was the biggest project. We got quotes that that was going to be $80,000. Well, how could we get $80,000? But we wrote to the governmen, Hugh Packland in Winnipeg with the Winnipeg Foundation and the Kaplan Fund, which of all is the Welch's grapefruit people out of New York City. Well, I would go and find these people, and then I'd come back in the community and say the Welch's grapefruit people out of New York City want to put some money into our church. And people would just shake their head. "Why are you putting money into that old church when there's so much else to do?" "Why don't you fix the roads?" So the first year they thought we were crazy. The 2nd year they were pretty sure we were crazy. We're going into our 5th year, and the local people are starting to think that ths is something pretty fantastc that the community did. This church now is coming alive once again. That first service that we had was an amazing thing to happe. The old people who were sure that they had lost their church, that they would never have a service in that church again, they came, and in the center, they put a picture of the Madonna, and people come up the carpt on their knees to kiss that picture. And there were the old people, the local men, the big macho men that you see in the coffee shop every morning, on their knees with tears in their eyes coming to kiss that pictue because they thought that they would never see that happen. [woman sings, with piano accompaniment] Our Father Which art in heaven Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come Thy will be done On earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our debts As we forgive our debtor And lead us not into temptation But deliver us from evil For Thine is the kingdom And the power And the glory forever, Amen. (choir) Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. [choir hums the melody] (woman) Production funding for "Prairie Churches" is provided by grants from... ...and by the members of... To order a DVD...



Prairie Public television studio in Fargo, North Dakota
Prairie Public television studio in Fargo, North Dakota

In 1959, North Central Educational Television, the predecessor organization to Prairie Public, was incorporated. On January 19, 1964, KFME signed on from Fargo as North Dakota's first educational television station.

The Prairie Public name was adopted in 1974, the same year the first satellite station, KGFE in Grand Forks signed on, marking the beginning of the statewide network. A year earlier, KFME had almost shut down due to lack of funding. KFME acquired a color video tape recorder in 1967, and color cameras in 1975.

The FCC had allocated educational frequencies to Bismarck, Minot, Williston and Dickinson in the 1960s. While KFME was picked up on cable in Bismarck in the early 1970s, most of the western part of the state was one of the few areas of the country without educational programming. it would be 1977 before the state legislature granted Prairie Public funding to build a statewide public television network. KBME in Bismarck was established in 1979, bringing over-the-air public television to the western portion of the state for the first time. KSRE in Minot followed suit in 1980 and KDSE in 1982. Prairie Public purchased the Fargo American Life Building in 1983 and moved its studios there in 1984. In 1989 KFME and cable feeds went to a 24-hour television broadcast schedule. The Prairie Satellite Network distance education state network, with 70 sites, was completed in 1994. Later, KWSE in Williston signed on in 1983, and KJRE in Ellendale/Jamestown signed on in 1992.

Prairie Public became the first broadcaster in North Dakota to broadcast in high definition, with KFME-DT and KBME-DT debuting in 2002. Digital-only station KCGE-DT Crookston/Grand Forks signed on in 2003, with the rest of the Prairie Public stations broadcasting in HDTV by 2004.

The transmitter for KGFE was damaged in May 2004, due to ice buildup on the tower, which caused very large chunks of ice to fall off and go through the roof of the transmitter building. This caused water damage to the transmitter's equipment, as well as damage to the roof of the transmitter site.[1] KGFE went back on the air in February 2005 at low power, then later became a secondary station from the KCGE tower. KMDE-DT of Devils Lake signed on in 2005 to cover the western half of KGFE's viewing area, as KCGE covered the eastern half of KGFE's viewing area.


Prairie Public is carried on most cable systems in southern Manitoba, including Winnipeg. Manitoba has historically been a significant supporter of Prairie Public. Indeed, the network's audience there is far larger than its American one; the Winnipeg area alone has a population greater than the entire state of North Dakota.

Prairie Public has produced numerous local documentaries, including many about southern Manitoba, including Portage Avenue: Dreams of Castles in the Sky, Red River Divide, Assiniboine Park: A Park for all Seasons, Lake Winnipeg's Paradise Beaches, among others.

Prairie Public was first available in Manitoba in 1974, when KGFE signed on VHF channel 2 from the WDAZ TV Tower in Dahlen, its signal was easily received in the Morden-Winkler area. Prairie Public has been carried on cable in Manitoba since 1975, when KGFE was picked up by cable systems in Winnipeg[2] and Brandon, Manitoba. In 1986, Prairie Public was nearly dropped from cable in Winnipeg.[3][4] After the crisis, Prairie Public set up a fixed microwave link to carry stronger signals into Winnipeg. In 1998, a signal link failure forced PPTV off cable in Brandon for several months.[5]

Not only must Prairie Public take its large Canadian audience into account in its programming, but a significant portion of its donations during fundraising drives are in Canadian dollars. The station has opened up many of its contests for Canadian residents. It is also involved in many family events in Manitoba, including the International Friendship Festival in Winnipeg, and an annual Mister Rogers Neighborhood Sweater Drive.[6]

Canadians are well-represented in Prairie Public's leadership; two directors of Prairie Public are from Winnipeg.[7] Additionally, a Manitoban chairs the television programming advisory board.[8]

Since KGFE's analog service went off the air in 2004, Prairie Public has been available only by cable in Manitoba. In 2012, MTS brought Prairie Public's signal into northern Manitoba for the first time when its Ultimate TV service launched in Thompson and The Pas.[9][10] Coverage is not complete, however; cable systems as far south as Winkler use alternate PBS feeds. Prairie Public is also absent from the lineups of satellite providers Shaw Direct and Bell TV, making it unavailable to many rural residents and cottages.

Elsewhere in Canada, Prairie Public is carried on cable in Kenora, Ontario, and is available over-the-air near Estevan, Saskatchewan. Prairie Public was formerly on cable throughout Saskatchewan, until 1984.[11]


Many original Prairie Public productions are available on the broadcaster's YouTube Channel.[3] The stations also carry programs from PBS, American Public Television, and other distributors, as well as from independent producers.


Current programs

  • Prairie Pulse with John Harris, Friday 7:30pm CT / 6:30 MT
  • Prairie Mosaic, Thursday 9:30pm CT / 8:30 MT
  • Painting with Paulson, Saturday 3:30pm CT / 2:30 MT


Weekly regional programs

  • SPIN (1976)
  • North Dakota This Week (1980)
  • Skyline (early 1980s)
  • Prairie News Journal (1990–1997)
  • PlainsTalk (1998)
  • Prairie Pulse (2004–present)


As a member of Minnesota Public Television Association Prairie Public also broadcasts Almanac from Twin Cities Public Television in Minneapolis-St. Paul, as well as Minnesota Channel on Prairie Public's digital channels throughout North Dakota. Many shows produced locally by Prairie Public are enjoyed by the Minnesota Channel's viewers throughout Minnesota.


Full-power stations

There are nine full-power stations in the state network, in major cities throughout the state. In 2009, the state network ended analog service for all stations, and they map via PSIP to their former analog channel location.

Station City of license Channels First air date Second and 
 third letters of 
 callsign meaning
ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
KFME Fargo Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
January 19, 1964 Fargo-
56.2 kW 342 m 53321 47°0′45″N 97°11′41″W / 47.01250°N 97.19472°W / 47.01250; -97.19472 (KFME)
KGFE Grand Forks Digital: 15 (UHF)
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
September 9, 1974 Grand
22.6 kW 186.1 m 53320 47°58′38″N 96°36′18″W / 47.97722°N 96.60500°W / 47.97722; -96.60500 (KGFE)
KBME-TV1 Bismarck Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
June 18, 1979 Bismarck-
97.3 kW 392 m 53324 46°35′23″N 100°48′2″W / 46.58972°N 100.80056°W / 46.58972; -100.80056 (KBME-TV)
KSRE Minot Digital: 40 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
January 25, 1980 Souris
146 kW 249.4 m 53313 48°3′2″N 101°23′25″W / 48.05056°N 101.39028°W / 48.05056; -101.39028 (KSRE)
KDSE Dickinson Digital: 9 (VHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
August 4, 1982 Dickinson/
Stark County
8.35 kW 243.5 m 53329 46°43′35″N 102°54′57″W / 46.72639°N 102.91583°W / 46.72639; -102.91583 (KDSE)
KWSE Williston Digital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
April 8, 1983 WilliSton
84.9 kW 278 m 53318 48°8′30″N 103°53′34″W / 48.14167°N 103.89278°W / 48.14167; -103.89278 (KWSE)
KJRE Ellendale Digital: 20 (UHF)
Virtual: 19 (PSIP)
May 19922 James
72.3 kW 162.5 m 53315 46°17′56″N 98°51′56″W / 46.29889°N 98.86556°W / 46.29889; -98.86556 (KJRE)
KCGE-DT Crookston, MN
(East Grand Forks/Grand Forks)
Digital: 16 (UHF)
Virtual: 16 (PSIP)
2003 Crookston/
Grand Forks/
East Grand Forks
105 kW 219.6 m 132606 47°58′38″N 96°36′18″W / 47.97722°N 96.60500°W / 47.97722; -96.60500 (KCGE-DT)
KMDE Devils Lake Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
2006 Minnewaukan-
Devils Lake
134 kW 244.5 m 162016 48°3′47.8″N 99°20′8.7″W / 48.063278°N 99.335750°W / 48.063278; -99.335750 (KMDE)

1: KBME-TV used the callsign KBME (without the -TV suffix) from its 1979 sign-on until 1998.
2: The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says KJRE signed on May 12, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on May 11.

Digital television

Digital channels

The digital signals of PPT's stations are multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]
xx.1 1080i 16:9 PPB1 Main programming / PBS
xx.2 480i 4:3 PPB2 World/Lifelong Learning
xx.3 480i
16:9 PPB3 Minnesota Channel
xx.4 480i 4:3 PPB4 PBS Kids
  • In most areas, subchannels are only available in standard definition. However, Minnesota Channel is carried in high definition by KGFE Grand Forks, as the only other subchannel is a standard definition feed of the main PPT/PBS channel. All four Prairie Public subchannels and the high definition feed of the main PPT/PBS channel are carried on KCGE in the Grand Forks area.

Analog-to-digital conversion

During 2009, in the lead-up to the analog-to-digital television transition that would ultimately occur on June 12, Prairie Public shut down the analog transmitters of its stations on a staggered basis. Listed below are the dates each analog transmitter ceased operations as well as their post-transition channel allocations:[21]

  • KFME shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 23 to VHF channel 13.
  • KGFE shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, on June 12, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 56, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to UHF channel 15. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 2.
  • KBME-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 22. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.
  • KSRE shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on February 17, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 40. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6.
  • KDSE shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 20 to VHF channel 9.
  • KWSE shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 51. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.
  • KJRE shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, on February 17, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 20. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 19.

KCGE-DT signed on in 2003 as a digital-only station, although it also had to endure a temporary shutdown in early 2009 in final preparation for the transition.

KMDE signed on in 2006 as a digital-only station, although it also had to endure a temporary shutdown in early 2009 in final preparation for the transition.

Network translator stations

A translator network also serves areas where over-the-air reception for a regular station is hindered by area topography, distance and to fill in holes between full-power stations. Translators broadcasting in digital have their virtual channel mapped via PSIP to the channel number of the full-power station it rebroadcasts.[22][23]

Call sign Location Translator

K17OB-D Plevna, Montana 17 KWSE 4
K04IH-D Baker, Montana 4 KDSE 9
K13PZ-D Poplar, Montana 13 KWSE 4
  • Formerly,
    • K02FO Valley City, relaying KGFE until 1992, when KJRE 19 in Ellendale signed on.
    • K07NE Lisbon relayed KFME.
    • K11QD Hazen relayed KSRE.

Cable and satellite

Prairie Public is carried on all cable systems in North Dakota, as well as on a number of cable systems in northwestern Minnesota and eastern Montana. In Manitoba, Prairie Public is carried by Shaw Cable on most systems south of the Interlake (including Winnipeg), and by Westman across southwest Manitoba. MTS carries Prairie Public on their phone-line service, MTS TV. In Ontario, Shaw Cable carries Prairie Public in Kenora.

On satellite, KFME is carried on the Fargo/Grand Forks DirecTV and Dish Network local feeds, while KBME is carried on the Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson DirecTV and Dish Network feeds.

See also

External links

Online Videos A-Z Index
YouTube RSS feed


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