Marion City Council frustrated by KPTS ad deal

Kansas public television is not the place to go to learn about the city of Marion.

But that isn’t for a lack of trying.

Last year, the city of Marion paid $920 to Wichita-based public broadcasting television station, KPTS, to air a 30-second promotional advertisement 36 times over the course of 12 months.

The 12 months came and went; not a single advertisement spot was aired.

Now, the countdown is on for KPTS to maintain its contract with the city.

“If they can’t deliver in two weeks, we’re done,” Marion Mayor Todd Heit­schmidt said, giving the television station a timetable to begin airing the advertisement spots.

Randy Collett, the city’s director of economic development, said KPTS is interested in renewing its contract with the city for another year. Collett said KPTS offered to air a total of 72 spots over the next 12 months to make up for the 36 missed spots.

“Renewal is one way to call it,” Collett said. “But we have not had a spot yet.”

High staff turnover at KPTS combined with disagreements in creative direction for the commercial led to the delay, Collett said.

“We were being a little picky,” Collett said. “The first advertisement was pretty much just cars driving on the dam over the Marion Reservoir. It wasn’t appealing.”

Collett said KPTS Presi­dent Victor Hogstrom was “contrite” about the inconvenience and the process has

“It’s moving along a lot faster this time around,” Collett said.

The city council wasn’t quite ready to try it again. No motion was made to renew the contract.

Councilor Chris Costello said although he supports the KPTS, a non-profit that “air lots of great programming,” he was hesitant to trust the station with another contract.

“We’re going to pay the two years worth and have nothing on air,” Costello said. “I don’t know any business that would get away with this.

“We assumed they would keep their word,” added councilor Susan Gray.

The council agreed to wait until KPTS aired the originally agreed advertisement spots before entering into a new contract.

The advertisement, which paints Marion as a “picturesque Kansas town” with a “historic past, vibrant present and planned and designed future,” lines up with the city’s focus on promoting its downtown revitalization project.

City Administrator Roger Holter presented a slideshow to the council Monday detailing the long-term, million-dollar project.

The project will include new LED lighting on sidewalks, wheelchair-accessible ramps entering each business and the burying of overhead power lines.

Holter said the project will address the city’s aging infrastructure and restore downtown commerce.

“It’s important to remember that this project is the journey, not the destination,” Holter said.

Holter said he’d like to present the slideshow to “anyone who wants to give us 10 to 15 minutes.”

Costello said the presentation could clear up some misconceptions about the project.

“We don’t want people to think we’re spending a million bucks on just lights,” Costello said. “It’s much more than that