History of WNIN
Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation founded local educational television in the late 1950's by initiating the Southwestern Indiana Educational Television Project, a consortium of 16 southwest Indiana school corporations. Through a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Project began producing a series of educational programs at commercial station WTVW.
The program was dropped in 1968 but soon the EVSC obtained a license to operate its own station with the call letters WNIN. With equipment donated by WTVW and other stations, WNIN began broadcasting in 1970 from studios created in the old McCutchanville School. One year after signing on, WNIN found itself with $59,000 deficit. A community subscription campaign failed to meet its goal, resulting in the station going off the air in 1972.
An independent non-profit, community-owned corporation was formed in 1973 for the purpose of reviving the station. A $100,000 gift from the University of Evansville was the turning point that enabled Southwest Indiana Public Television to put WNIN/TV 9 on the air.
The first Great Channel 9 Auction both took place in 1974, fueling plans to add a radio station and to eventually relocate both stations to a single new facility. WNIN-TV's first local programs included Ride the Reading Rocket, The Public's Business, and Primetime 9. Through the years, WNIN has hosted many famous on-air guests, from the governor of Indiana to Donnie & Marie Osmond.
The station's first Capital Campaign to raise $3,000,000 began in 1981 for the purposes of moving the station to a downtown location, developing a public radio service and replacing the used television equipment. The campaign raised approximately $1.2 million and placed the station in a deficit situation.
WNIN 88.3 FM went on the air in 1982, broadcasting from the basement of the old McCutchanville School. Radio Reading Service was added three years later.
David Dial was hired as President and General Manager in 1983, succeeding Glen Traw and Bob Edelman (under EVSC management) and Vince Saele and Art Paul (as WNIN General Managers).
In 1986, WNIN purchased one of Evansville's oldest buildings, the Willard Carpenter home, for $260,000. A $900,000 capital campaign enabled the purchase of new equipment and then the retirement of the mortgage three years later.
Two additional TV channels were added in 1991 when WNIN signed an agreement with EVSC to operate WNIN-ETV on cable channels 12 and 13. The channels were initially used as a demand system to provide video material to teachers in the classroom. The City of Evansville also provided important on-going funding to support after school and community programming.
The 1990's also brought the addition of Descriptive Video Service, the Sesame Street Pre-School Educational Outreach Program (RTL), and the development of one of the first local community computer networks in the country. It was in 1993 that WNIN changed its corporate name to Tri-State Public Teleplex, Inc.
In 2001, the State of Indiana granted its public TV stations $20 million to assist in compliance with a federal mandate for digital conversion. With its 3.5-million-dollar share, WNIN purchased 20 acres of land in Boonville, Indiana for a new 1,000-foot tower and transmission site to add a high definition channel, datacasting and multichannel capabilities, 5.1 digital surround audio, and Internet streaming capabilities by 2006. WNIN raised nearly $2 million in a local capital campaign to complete the conversion.
In 2005, WNIN-TV formed a partnership with the Vanderburgh County Commission to begin live coverage of government meetings. The County purchased the necessary equipment that is operated through fiber optic lines from WNIN's Carpenter Home headquarters and pays for each half-hour of coverage. In 2007, the City of Evansville joined in a similar arrangement.
WNIN FM 88.3 took a big step into radio's digital age in 2006 with the construction of a new radio control room made possible through federal grant funds.
In 2008 our name changed to WNIN Tri-State Public Media, Inc.
In 2009, WNIN completed construction of its next-generation, all-digital facility. The installation of high-definition television and radio equipment enabled the station to continue to provide its content in the highest quality possible.