PBS Appalachia Virginia Launches First All-Digital Public TV Station

PBS Appalachia Virginia
(Image credit: PBS Appalachia Virginia)

BRISTOL, Va.—PBS Appalachia Virginia has launched what it is billing as the nation's first all-digital public television station with the creation of a new station serving Southwest Virginia. 

Starting Saturday, June 10, viewers can watch the new station through local cable providers or enjoy live streaming via the website PBSAVirginia.org or the mobile app PBS Appalachia Virginia. Additionally, viewers around the world can access programs on-demand at PBS.org or through the mobile app.

In partnership with Hard Rock International, PBS Appalachia is also planning to construct a state-of-the-art television studio in the Hard Rock Bristol location. The resort and casino is dedicating 4,000-square-feet of space to house a glass-encased television studio, podcast studio, and adjacent control room, allowing people to witness television productions in progress or enjoy local shows on a massive virtual wall during non-production hours. 

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino logo

(Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino)

“Partnering with Hard Rock is a perfect fit for PBS Appalachia because we are both community-minded companies who want to help move the region forward," says Julie Newman, general manager of PBS Appalachia, and former news anchor of WCYB-TV. "We are grateful for their partnership and support." 

The studio's strategic location will ensure regional access and high foot traffic.

“We work to improve lives, help communities and sustain the Earth, infusing the power of music into all we do. Ever since Hard Rock's founding, we have planted roots and thrived wherever we operate. We are proud to partner with PBS Appalachia, " says Allie Evangelista, president of Hard Rock Bristol. 

Construction will take place over the next year, with anticipated opening in July 2024.

In addition to broadcasting the full PBS schedule, PBS Appalachia will debut with three local series. Episodes from all three programs were pre-released and have garnered a remarkable total of eight Emmy nominations from the esteemed National Capital Chapter, along with five Telly Awards and two VAB Awards.

The funding for PBS Appalachia has been made possible through the restoration of state support. 

Previously, Blue Ridge PBS operated two transmitters in Southwest Virginia, but it was challenging for viewers to access over-the-air signals due to the topography of the Appalachian Mountains. In 2013, following the de-funding of public media in Virginia, the decision was made to shut down these transmitters. 

However, under the leadership of Va. State Sen. Todd Pillion (R) and Va. Del. Israel O'Quinn (R), a budget amendment for Fiscal Year 2023 was passed to establish PBS Appalachia. 

In announcing the launch, the station thanked Delegate Will Morefield and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission for their support in funding PBS Appalachia's endeavors over the past three years.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.