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AETN Director’s Blog – Allen Weatherly

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I have personally worked in public service media since 1980, and while I am a huge fan of general audience programming on AETN like ”Masterpiece,” “American Experience,” “Nature,” Ken Burns' films and so much more, I have remained committed and loyal primarily because of what our system – certainly here in Arkansas through AETN – does for our children. 

It is no surprise that parents say PBS KIDS is the most educational media brand for children (SSI survey 2016). PBS KIDS reaches nearly 99 percent of U.S. television households, providing children access to what is often their only source of educational TV. In a month, nearly 11 million unique visitors access A recent study confirms that parents overwhelmingly agree that no other media brand meets their children's school readiness needs like PBS KIDS. 

On our main AETN channel we broadcast 61 hours of educationally-vetted programming for children each week. For those who can receive our AETN-3 sub-channel we present another 61 hours. Personally, this scheduling information fills me with pride. 

Study after study shows that nearly half of America’s children are not prepared to succeed when they enter kindergarten – an issue to which Arkansas is certainly not immune. To address this national problem, AETN and PBS partnered with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to launch PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a national initiative that surrounds children ages 2 to 8 with research-based literacy content. PBS KIDS Raising Readers has successfully leveraged the power of media across all platforms to close the literacy achievement gap. AETN has been honored as a national leader in this initiative, and AETN is also a partner in the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-level Reading, part of a national campaign dedicated to helping kids read at grade-level by the end of third grade. 

A while back I had lunch with a friend of mine who was running a commercial television station, and he began to tease me about how much more money he had to spend. No doubt that is true, and I watch a lot of programs on other channels and formats. I just smiled at that comment and said, “Yes, but I can sleep at night. I know what we present has real value to Arkansans, especially our children.” 

AETN and PBS KIDS rock, I believe, and it remains at the heart of our mission. Thanks for your support … even if you no longer watch “Clifford The Big Red Dog,” “WordGirl,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Curious George” and all the rest. Trust me, many future Arkansas leaders do.  


PBS Trust Survey Results


Allen Weatherly, executive director, AETN

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