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
Affiliation(s)PBS (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, and 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.

Prairie Public Television is headquartered on 5th Street North in Fargo, with a satellite studio on North 15th Street in Bismarck.


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 on the WDAZ-TV tower mast 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 Satellite 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] Cable companies in Saskatchewan largely carry Detroit Public Television instead, while SaskTel carries WGBH.


Many original Prairie Public productions are available on the broadcaster's YouTube Channel.[1] The stations also carry programs from PBS, American Public Television, and other distributors, as well as from independent producers.


Current programs


Weekly regional programs


As a member of Minnesota Public Television Association Prairie Public also broadcasts Almanac from Twin Cities PBS in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, as well as Minnesota Channel on Prairie Public's digital channels throughout North Dakota.


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 license1 Channels First air date Second and
third letters of
callsign meaning
ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates Public license information
KFME Fargo Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 13
January 19, 1964 (59 years ago) (1964-01-19) Fargo–
56.2 kW 342 m (1,122 ft) 53321 47°0′45″N 97°11′41″W / 47.01250°N 97.19472°W / 47.01250; -97.19472 (KFME) Public file
KGFE2 Grand Forks Digital: 15 (UHF)
Virtual: 2
September 9, 1974 (48 years ago) (1974-09-09) Grand
22.6 kW 186.1 m (611 ft) 53320 47°58′38″N 96°36′18″W / 47.97722°N 96.60500°W / 47.97722; -96.60500 (KGFE) Public file
KBME-TV3 Bismarck Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 3
June 18, 1979 (44 years ago) (1979-06-18) Bismarck–
97.3 kW 392 m (1,286 ft) 53324 46°35′23″N 100°48′2″W / 46.58972°N 100.80056°W / 46.58972; -100.80056 (KBME-TV) Public file
KSRE Minot Digital: 15 (UHF)
Virtual: 6
January 25, 1980 (43 years ago) (1980-01-25) Souris
146 kW 249.4 m (818 ft) 53313 48°3′2″N 101°23′25″W / 48.05056°N 101.39028°W / 48.05056; -101.39028 (KSRE) Public file
KDSE Dickinson Digital: 9 (VHF)
Virtual: 9
August 4, 1982 (41 years ago) (1982-08-04) Dickinson/
Stark County
8.35 kW 243.5 m (799 ft) 53329 46°43′35″N 102°54′57″W / 46.72639°N 102.91583°W / 46.72639; -102.91583 (KDSE) Public file
KWSE Williston Digital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 4
April 8, 1983 (40 years ago) (1983-04-08) WilliSton 84.9 kW 278 m (912 ft) 53318 48°8′30″N 103°53′34″W / 48.14167°N 103.89278°W / 48.14167; -103.89278 (KWSE) Public file
KJRE Ellendale (Jamestown) Digital: 20 (UHF)
Virtual: 19
May 1992 (31 years ago) (1992-05)4 James
72.3 kW 162.5 m (533 ft) 53315 46°17′56″N 98°51′56″W / 46.29889°N 98.86556°W / 46.29889; -98.86556 (KJRE) Public file
KCGE-DT Crookston, MN
(Grand ForksEast Grand Forks/Thief River Falls)
Digital: 16 (UHF)
Virtual: 16
2003 (20 years ago) (2003) Crookston/
Grand Forks/
East Grand Forks
Golden Eagles

(nickname for University of Minnesota Crookston's athletic teams)
105 kW 219.6 m (720 ft) 132606 47°58′38″N 96°36′18″W / 47.97722°N 96.60500°W / 47.97722; -96.60500 (KCGE-DT) Public file
KMDE Devils Lake Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 25
2006 (17 years ago) (2006) Minnewaukan
Devils Lake
134 kW 244.5 m (802 ft) 162016 48°3′47.8″N 99°20′8.7″W / 48.063278°N 99.335750°W / 48.063278; -99.335750 (KMDE) Public file


Digital television

Digital channels

The digital signals of PPT's stations are multiplexed:

Prairie Public Television multiplex[13]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
xx.1 1080i 16:9 PPB1 Main programming / PBS
xx.2 480i 4:3 PPB2 World
xx.3 480i
16:9 PPB3 Minnesota Channel
xx.4 480i 4:3 PPB4 PBS Kids

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:[14]

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.[15][16]

City of license Callsign Translating Channel ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates Owner
Baker, MT K04IH-D KDSE 4 0.015 kW 9 m (30 ft) 3624 46°18′45.0″N 104°12′26.7″W / 46.312500°N 104.207417°W / 46.312500; -104.207417 (K04IH-D) Baker TV Tax District
Plevna, MT K17OB-D 17 0.754 kW 42 m (138 ft) 52825 46°20′05.0″N 104°30′46.8″W / 46.334722°N 104.513000°W / 46.334722; -104.513000 (K17OB-D) Plevna Public School Trustees District #55
Poplar, MT K13PZ-D KWSE 13 0.054 kW 37 m (121 ft) 53011 48°08′25.0″N 105°07′16.9″W / 48.140278°N 105.121361°W / 48.140278; -105.121361 (K13PZ-D) Poplar TV District
Scobey, MT K26PD-D 26 0.239 kW 68 m (223 ft) 191359 48°47′51.0″N 105°21′26.3″W / 48.797500°N 105.357306°W / 48.797500; -105.357306 (K26PD-D) Klear VU Television District

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

Online Videos A-Z Index
YouTube RSS feed


  1. ^ "Broadcasting News-May 2004". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  2. ^ "Videon Will Offer Viewers New Fare". Winnipeg Free Press. July 11, 1975. p. 11.
  3. ^ "The CBC as a "cultural conduit connecting our coasts"? That's so 1986! | The View from Seven". 2010-05-20. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  4. ^ "ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 86-184". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 6 March 1986. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  5. ^ "ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 99-50". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2012-10-26.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "CDBS Print". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  8. ^ "Prairie Public Broadcasting » Staff and Board". 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  9. ^ "MTS President and Thompson Mayor celebrate launch of fibre optic network and Ultimate TV service in Thompson | MTS". Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  10. ^ "MTS's premium Ultimate TV service now available in the Pas, Manitoba | MTS". Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  11. ^ "ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 84-915". 23 October 1984. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  12. ^ "FCC History Cards for KGFE" (PDF).((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "RabbitEars TV Query for KFME". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  14. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  15. ^ "RabbitEars.Info". RabbitEars.Info. 2011-08-26. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  16. ^ "RabbitEars.Info". RabbitEars.Info. 2011-08-26. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  17. ^ a b "Local Channels on DISH Network (Unofficial Listing)". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  18. ^ a b "DIRECTV Mobile site". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  19. ^[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ a b "Shaw Television — Find the complete list of channels in your area". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  21. ^ "Selector | Westman Communications Group" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  22. ^ "Basic Channels". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  23. ^ "Cable TV « City of Barnesville". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Channel Line-ups -Fox Sports Network North, HD, Premium Movie-Midcontinent Communications-SD, ND, MN". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  25. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2012-10-04.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Loretel Systems, Inc". Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  27. ^ "CATV - Garden Valley Telephone Company". Archived from the original on 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
  28. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2012-10-04.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ a b "channel-lineup". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  30. ^ "Sjoberg's Cable | News & Information". Archived from the original on 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
  31. ^ "TV Listings- Find Local TV Listings and Watch Full Episodes -". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  32. ^ "TV Listings- Find Local TV Listings and Watch Full Episodes -". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  33. ^ "TV Listings Guide and TV Schedule, Where to Watch TV Shows - Zap2it". Archived from the original on 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  34. ^ "File Not Found". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  35. ^ "Consolidated Channel Line-up". Archived from the original on 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  36. ^ "CSiCable The Better Way - Valley City Guide". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  37. ^[permanent dead link]
  38. ^[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ "MLGC Cable Television". Archived from the original on 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  40. ^ "Cable TV | Northwest Communications Cooperative". Archived from the original on 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  41. ^ "Television Services | NDTC | Devils Lake, ND". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  42. ^ "TV – Polar Communications". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  43. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2012-09-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  44. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2012-09-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  45. ^ "Video « RTC – Reservation Telephone Cooperative". Archived from the original on 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  46. ^ "United Communications". Retrieved 21 August 2018.