Virtual Visit

Iowa PBS | Extra
Mar 13, 2022 | 6 min

Enjoy a virtual visit of the Iowa PBS studios. To schedule an in-person tour, please contact us.


Narrator: Hello and welcome to Iowa PBS. We are the statewide public television station in Iowa and our studios are located in Johnston.

Iowa PBS's journey began when President Johnson signed the Public Television Act in 1967. In 1969 channel 11 was transferred from the Des Moines Public Schools' KDPS TV to KDIN and we started broadcasting as the Iowa Educational Broadcasting Network. For many years we operated as Iowa Public Television and in 2020 we became Iowa PBS. Our station is different from other TV stations because a lot of our funding comes from people just like you who donate to Iowa PBS through the Friends of Iowa PBS Foundation.

As you enter the building, the engraved bricks outside the studio recognize individuals and families who have made an estate gift to support the Iowa PBS Foundation.

In our lobby you'll notice a number of awards we've received. We hold several regional Emmy awards among our staff, as well as a national Emmy for the 1973 documentary Take Des Moines Please.

Iowa PBS is committed to telling the unique tale of Iowa. Some of our locally produced programs include Iowa Ingredient, Iowa Outdoors and Greetings From Iowa. We also have a nationally syndicated program called Market to Market, as well as numerous documentaries such as Carrie Chapman Catt: Warrior for Women and The Forgotten War: Iowans in Korea.

Around the building, outside the studio spaces, you'll see this special light. It tells us if someone is recording in a studio or audio booth. If the light is on it's important to be quiet in the hallway so our sound isn't captured on the video or audio.

Welcome to Studio 1. In this studio we record our weekly productions of Market to Market and Iowa Press. There are a number of studio cameras and one even mounted on a large crane.

If you visit Iowa PBS for an event you'll most likely enter through the Maytag Lobby. This lobby leads you to our black box theater space, The Maytag Auditorium. The walls and floor are black so we can customize the space with backdrops, props and lighting. You will notice the lighting grid on the ceiling. This allows our team to light each production in the best way possible. The Maytag Auditorium is used for a variety of productions each year including musical performances, political debates and our own special events like screenings and member events.

This is our scene shop where our masterful production technicians build sets for our productions. They transform our spaces so that each program can shine. Not only that, but you may recognize some character cutouts around the shop.

You may notice that there are windows into many of our rooms and that the hallway is darker. This allows visitors to come and see how we produce content without disturbing our staff. Television is a communal craft and our control room gets a lot of use when we're broadcasting live. From this room we can utilize all sorts of video coming from sources that include live footage, satellite transmissions or video content stored on a computer. Everyone in this room knows what the program should look like and uses their individual skill sets to put the best program on the air.

Now we are in the heart of the station, Master Control. Here a master control operator monitors all four of our channels to ensure that we are on air and the correct programming is airing. Iowa PBS broadcasts on nine transmitters and eight translators. Those are big towers across the state. That's how we're able to be a statewide station. Our four channels are Iowa PBS, Iowa PBS Kids, Iowa PBS World and Iowa PBS Create. A master control operator is also responsible for ensuring that content coming via satellite to our station is recorded correctly as well as monitoring spots that air during breaks on our channels.

The satellite antennas are used to receive and transmit television shows. The dishes are aimed at satellites 22,500 miles in the sky and are used to receive shows from PBS as well as to send shows to other television stations across the world for their broadcast use. We house various monitoring stations and videotape machines. The videotape machines are mostly used to access tapes of older programs from the library for archival purposes.

This is one of the many edit suites we have at Iowa PBS. In this space, we put together the programs documentaries and specials for you to enjoy.

This is our video archive. This room was designed to hold 30,000 videotapes. Many of our legacy recordings are stored in this room. As technology advances we will move all of our content onto these servers to store our programs more efficiently and safely.

This is where the graphics team works. They are responsible for designing all of our program logos, graphic animations and more. They create all assets needed to promote Iowa PBS programs and initiatives.

Iowa PBS has a robust education staff that works with educators and parents all year long. We bring programs and services to communities across the state designed to improve the school readiness of young children.

Thanks for virtually visiting Iowa PBS. It is our mission to educate, inform, enrich and inspire Iowans. We will strive to do that for years to come.