Hibbing Public Access Television Turns VHS Transfers into Community Outreach

Updated: Mar 07, 2023

HPAT VHS Tapes stacked on a table

Hibbing Public Access TV (HPAT) is a nonprofit organization that serves the Hibbing, Minn., area. It has three HD PEG channels on the local Mediacom cable system, as well as an internet channel that operates through its Cablecast system. But HPAT’s recent community outreach effort is strictly analog.

Through its VHS transfer program, HPAT is strengthening its relationships with the school district and city officials. Plus, they are offering the tape-to-digital conversion service to residents for a nominal fee, which is raising some revenue for the organization.

According to Ron Wirkkula, president of HPAT, the VHS transfer program has been a great community outreach effort. He said it’s provided an opportunity to tell community members about their HD cable channels, which were recently moved in the channel lineup, and their internet channel, video-on-demand, and Roku and Apple TV streaming platforms.

But the VHS transfer program is about more than providing locals with an inexpensive way to save their tape-based memories. It’s also helping HPAT do its part to preserve local history.

For example, the Hibbing Historical Society recently acquired hundreds of VHS tapes from Hibbing High School. From proms to plays to sporting events, the collection is a treasure trove of memories for former students – and HPAT is converting the tapes to digital to preserve them.

Plus, HPAT is offering the same service to the city, which has meetings on VHS from as far back as 1991. For now, HPAT is just helping to save the historic footage by digitizing it. Eventually, the plan is for the city to create an accessible archive.

HPAT is converting its own VHS stockpile, too – and some of the “vintage” programs are being revisited on the air.

As HPAT has shown, if you have the tape decks and conversion equipment, a VHS transfer service is a great strategy for connecting with and serving your community. The income may be modest, but the chance to engage with viewers is priceless.

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