Kansas City PBS has announced “Picture This,” a new community engagement initiative designed to make public media more accessible for all through expanded coverage, deeper support of local journalism and a renovation of its historic headquarters at 125 E. 31st St. in Kansas City, MO. Fueled by private funders and the donations of the community the public media organization proudly serves, today’s announcement marks the beginning of the public phase of this fundraising initiative.
“Since we first went on the air, Kansas City PBS has relied upon the support of our generous community to bring civic affairs, arts, education and history to life on our channels,” said Kliff Kuehl, President and CEO of Kansas City PBS. “As we look to expand the impact of public media, we’re asking our neighbors to picture this: public media that lifts our community, provokes constructive dialogue and informs us all while leading us to action.”
This initiative in total marks a $16.5 million investment in midtown redevelopment with $800,000 left to raise during the public phase. A portion of this funding supports a renovation of the historic headquarters led by local architecture firm El Dorado and significant updates in technology creating a space that allows the creativity and expertise of Kansas City PBS, 90.9 The Bridge and Flatland’s talented teams to shine. Innovation will be fostered through modern floor plans and equipment, sparked by collaborative spaces inside and out that will provide an inspiring backdrop to contemplate projects and entertain ideas. This re-envisioned space will also allow the station to invite the public in for panel discussions, concerts and screenings, offering a hub for the community to experience the valuable services that Kansas City PBS provides firsthand.
A portion of funds raised for the “Picture This” campaign will support Kansas City PBS’ continued excellence in content across all platforms. It will expand services through content excellence and creators funds providing support for new and emerging talent in the Kansas City area and fostering the growth of local film production and journalism in the process. Investment in this work will allow us to convene important conversations, support local journalism and engage emerging filmmakers. “Picture This” asks the community to imagine a future where they have a stake in the public media that serves them, where they help tell the stories of our past, examine the issues of our present and look toward solutions for our future.
Kansas City PBS has served the metro area for more than 60 years providing a valuable public service through the delivery of quality programming, educational services and serving as a convener of civic affairs conversations. As the landscape of public media has evolved, Kansas City PBS has evolved with it, adding additional services and advancing technology to meet audiences where they are with the programming they want.
“Kansas City PBS’ local programs highlight the strengths of our community while not shying away from the challenges that are keeping us from reaching our full potential,” said Kuehl. “We don’t do this alone. We harness collective resources through our partnerships with civic, business and nonprofit organizations.”
“Our focus has always been on stories that matter,” said Kuehl. “These stories are created only with the support of the community. This is truly public service media. As we move forward, we’re asking you to picture more: more coverage on the issues that affect us all, more moving stories of triumph, a wider window into our history and more programming for our children, inspiring them to be life-long learners.”
Kansas City PBS serves more than 800,000 people each month with local content garnering over 1.75 million impressions. Nationally, PBS and its member stations are recognized No. 1 in public trust (Marketing & Research Resources, Inc. Jan. 2021), vastly outperforming commercial cable TV, broadcast TV, digital platforms and newspapers.
“This campaign has been well-planned since the beginning,” said Mollie Hale Carter, chair of Kansas City PBS’ “Picture This” campaign committee. “Now that we have all experienced a time that reminds us of the importance of community and the need for understanding of our region and the world, this work is an exciting example of what is possible when we come together. I am so proud to be a part of KCPBS's journey.”
“Kansas City PBS has served the metro area for over 60 years, bringing civic affairs, the arts and education right into our living rooms,” said J. Randall Vance, President & Chief Operating Officer of Sunderland Foundation. “The promise of a more expansive and accessible public media in Kansas City is not only aligned with our own heritage, values and mission – but it will create a more engaged, informed and vibrant community.”
“Enterprise Bank & Trust made this a priority immediately after hearing about the opportunity,” said Adam Kilpatrick, Senior Vice President, Director of Commercial Real Estate at Enterprise Bank & Trust. “We wanted to support this project from a community and social service perspective. There is not another source of free, beneficial programming with ties to early childhood education in Kansas City. The number of people that KCPBS reaches is astounding, and the variety and quality of programming they supply is impressive. This is a chance to help them build on that.”
“Kansas City PBS is a community treasure that plays an essential role in keeping democracy vital,” said David Dowell, AIA Partner at El Dorado. “Once in a generation, they avail themselves of a well-earned facility refresh, updating infrastructure, improving the workplace, shoring and shining up a series of existing buildings (and one new one!) for another generation’s worth of service. It’s been an honor to lead the process of re-envisioning the home for KCPBS, Flatland and 90.9 The Bridge. My hope is that our collective efforts over the past 3-plus years yield a healthier, more flexible and functional place to do good work. Abundant natural light, access to fresh air and numerous gardens, a fully accessible facility, indoor/outdoor spaces for work and hosting events – these are just a few of the improvements that await you. We thank KCPBS for your trust.”
“A.L. Huber is absolutely honored to be the construction partner on the transformation of the KCPBS building,” said Keith Dorrian, Senior Vice President of A.L. Huber. “Kansas City PBS has long served our community and we are excited to be a part of their incredible growth and future.”
The "Picture This" campaign has received community philanthropic investment of nearly $13 million. Major supporters include The Sunderland Foundation, Mollie Hale Carter, Marlese and Robert Gourley, Francis Family Foundation, Hall Family Foundation and Mike and Marlys Haverty. A special thank you to Sunflower Development Group and Enterprise Bank & Trust, who have invested in the initiative and helped Kansas City PBS receive an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits.