Thirty years ago Knowledge Network first went on-air, and not long after, in 1988, the network’s donor program Knowledge Partners (then known as Partners In Knowledge) began. Initiated by Glen Mitchell, then a Knowledge staff member, it was an opportunity to get British Columbians involved in the fledgling network and to encourage support for its programming and development.
As with any fundraising endeavor, to be successful it needed committed, talented people behind it. Nini Baird and Kirk Davis were there at the start. As Director of Programming and Manager, Partners In Knowledge, respectively, they encouraged the program’s growth from a few hundred donors to more than 20,000 – and a then-record $1 million in donations - in 1994, a remarkable achievement in just six short years.
“In a way those were magical years,” says Kirk. “Knowledge Network was still largely unknown, so we were really building public awareness and support.”
Nini and Kirk continue to be a part of Knowledge Network today, as donors themselves, and for Nini, as Chair of the Board of Directors. They both recognize how important it is to have a television service that provides a unique BC perspective.
As Nini explains, “British Columbians deserve a challenging, engaging, non-commercial broadcaster that they can trust. We’re lucky that BC is one of only three provinces in Canada that enjoy such a service.”
Kirk agrees: “Television is such an immensely powerful communications tool. I think that power is best used to reflect many perspectives in our community, not just those served by commercial and foreign broadcasters.”
Nini and Kirk are not alone in their long-standing commitment to Knowledge Network. More than 1,600 donors from the first full year of the Knowledge Partners program are still donors today.
“To me that stands as a fine testament to their long-term satisfaction with what Knowledge delivers,” says Kirk. “In a world of many media offerings, these donors voluntarily fund an alternative, noncommercial British Columbia product. I say bravo!”
Looking back over the past three decades, Nini and Kirk see that Knowledge has evolved into something much more dynamic than first conceived. “If anything, it is more relevant today than it was thirty years ago, because of the dramatic changes in technology,” says Nini. “No one can foresee the future, but I would hope that all British Columbians, wherever they live in the province, will embrace Knowledge Network as their own. I especially hope that we will build our endowment so that future generations will continue to enjoy the stimulation of Knowledge Network programming.”