WITF Annual Report FY 23 cover image


At WITF, we believe that an informed and engaged audience builds a stronger community. Although today’s media landscape is changing rapidly, we are laser-focused on our core mission to serve the Central Pennsylvania audience—our community—by telling the stories that matter to you. This year, we brought you more local features, programs, and events in more ways than ever before … and there are so many more stories to tell!

We updated the way we deliver our programs and content by refreshing our look and feel with new branding, launching a new app and YouTube channel, and partially redesigning our website to make it easier for you to find more of the stories that interest and entertain you. We re-imagined our educational offerings so that there is more for everyone at every age and stage, from preschool to adult learners, in the classroom and in the community.

With events from Shippensburg to York, Lancaster to Harrisburg, Gettysburg to Lititz, Chambersburg to Lebanon, and points in between, we enjoyed meeting you in the places you call home for The Spark Travels, Brunch with Rick Steves, and the immensely popular All Creatures Great and Small Screening and Dinner. We invited you to our home at the WITF Public Media Center for Ready, Set, Go, Kindergarten, Kids’ Night Out, and for special screenings to celebrate new seasons of Sanditon and Call the Midwife.

As part of our commitment to the national America Amplified initiative, our journalists spent time listening and learning more about what sparks your curiosity by meeting with you in-person at News & Brews events and by engaging with you via text and online. We also learned more about when and how you like to access your news, which led us to develop our news podcast, The Morning Agenda, that brings you key stories whenever you are ready to listen.

To reflect more of the best things about Central Pennsylvania, we created Mosaic, our YouTube channel, to bring you arts, culture and lifestyle stories that highlight and uplift the many diverse creators who make this corner of the world incredibly special. Scenic glimpses of the countryside in Aerial PA, new restaurants and cuisines in The Cookery, conversations about your favorite television shows in Postscript, musical performances in WITF Music, and stained glass treasures in Overlooked Art—there is so much to discover!

In May, we announced that Steinman Communications had gifted WITF Lancaster’s daily newspaper, LNP, and its associated website, LancasterOnline, along with three smaller publications. In addition to this landmark gift, The Steinman Foundation has provided WITF with seed money to establish The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement. We are so excited about the possibilities these additions offer for enhancing our service in the region, and we look forward to sharing more as we begin our work together.

More than ever before, we are grateful for your continued support of WITF. You—our audience, our community, our friends—are the reason we do what we do every day. In whatever way you engage with us … watching, listening, reading, attending, volunteering, donating, sponsoring … we thank you. And we invite you to contact us anytime to tell us what more we can do for you!

Ron Hetrick headshot in WITF Frame

Ron Hetrick
WITF President & CEO


Janice Snyder
Chair, WITF Board of Directors





WITF's Gabriela Martinez with WITF Frame

WITF’s newsroom is recognized as a national leader in community engagement journalism, transparency, and collaborative journalism – as well as for its unique approach to holding politicians accountable for supporting the 2020 election-fraud lie. Central Pennsylvanians routinely tell us they can trust our reporting, the highest praise we can receive. Our engagement efforts included Central Pa.’s first-ever deliberative forum, held by the Climate Solutions collaboration, and public events in Lebanon, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Mechanicsburg and Carlisle, where staff took attendees behind the scenes of WITF News and worked to model civil dialogue. We continue to stand for fact-based journalism that aims to strengthen our region’s communities.  

Kids at a WITF Education eventEDUCATION
WITF continued to expand its educational programs to provide valuable supports, services, and experiences to learners of all ages. In 2023, WITF received approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to be an approved provider of Act 48 continuing education credits. We piloted Kids’ Night Out, which will be a WITF signature program that offers a monthly afterschool learning opportunity to students in first through eighth grades; offered our first 8-day summer camp in partnership with Climate Solutions; hosted two teacher residents as part of the Lancaster County STEM Alliance’s Teachers as Temporary Workers program; became a Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium Member by invitation from the United States Library of Congress; and began development of our Innovation Studio, a cutting-edge mobile makerspace that includes a digital production studio – just to name a few! 

A woman holds up a WITF mug

WITF brings our community members together to learn our histories, to discuss tough topics, to laugh and cry at great dramas and to celebrate each other. We came together for Brunch with Rick Steves in Hershey, The Spark Travels in Shippensburg and Millersburg, and screening events for The U.S. and the Holocaust, All Creatures Great & Small, Call the Midwife and Sanditon in Harrisburg and Lancaster. WITF delights in discovering more about what you are excited to learn at each of our events!

An image of an artists work for the show 'Artists'PRODUCTIONS
This year, WITF doubled down on digital-first production. In response to the change in how people consume media, we focused on creating content for platforms such as YouTube, podcast apps, and TikTok. In February, we launched the @WITFMosaic channel on YouTube. Mosaic is WITF’s hub for arts, culture and lifestyle, where we present a variety of videos and podcasts to showcase the lighter side of life. New series include: Artists, featuring local individuals who are as unique as their art; Aerial PA, providing a birds-eye view of Central Pa. towns and iconic structures; The Cookery, which seeks good food and shares the passion and person behind the recipes; Overlooked Art, showcasing stained glass art from the region; and Postscript, a podcast (with video!) that immerses you in the worlds of your favorite PBS dramas. Subscribe to Mosaic at youtube.com/@witfmosaic and like the videos to see more arts and culture in your YouTube feed.

The Spark's Scott LaMar and Aniya Falcon

In October, WITF’s flagship program Smart Talk was renamed The Spark to reflect the evolution of the daily program from a call-in talk show with a single host to a magazine of conversations about the news of the day, human interest and arts & culture with multiple hosts asking questions. The Spark continues to host conversations that foster a deeper understanding of the world and its people in the communities of Central Pennsylvania and beyond.

WITF's Spelling Bee Coordinator Ruth Keim with her husband

WITF Spelling Bee Coordinator, Ruth J. Keim, was selected as the 2023 Regional Partner of the Year by the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Ruth, who has led the Central Pa. Bee for 26 years, accepted this prestigious national award on stage during the closing ceremony of the 2023 National Spelling Bee in National Harbor.

Men standing by a kiosk

WITF unveiled our News Media Lab, supported by The Arthur J. & Lee R. Glatfelter Foundation, to foster media literacy and help young adults navigate their role as citizens. Located at Keystone Kidspace in York, the kiosk explores media literacy and develops critical thinking skills in a digital format, in part by practicing how to interpret the news and check the reliability of sources. In its first two months of installation, the Lab was used more than 1,000 times to access resources.

Reporters at a News and Brews event

WITF requested to partner with Braver Angels (a national organization dedicated to depolarization) to model civil dialogue at a News & Brews event in Chambersburg in September 2022. Braver Angels created the presentation “Crossing the Continental Divide” in which participants learned about the organization and sampled a workshop activity. After the success of that event, Braver Angels opted to include this presentation as one of its five action items in its Rise for America Initiative. What started with a WITF request for Central Pa. will now have a national impact.

WITF's Fred Vigeant (left) and Blake Lynch (Right) with Rick Steves (middle)

Popular public television host and bestselling guidebook author Rick Steves joined WITF friends over brunch to share his travel philosophy, social activism, support of public radio and television and much more! Guests enjoyed behind-the-scenes pictures and tales of his favorite moments, and the lucky VIP guests received a signed book and a photo with our guest of honor.

Panelists at a screening event

WITF, in partnership with the Center for Holocaust and Jewish Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, hosted a special sneak preview and community conversation around The U.S. and the Holocaust, a new documentary film series directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein.

A young girl looks through a piece of paper

It was our second busiest season in the history of Explore in the Classroom! WITF educators visited 31 classrooms in 10 schools across 3 districts—Harrisburg, York City and Lancaster! Additionally, we provided educational kits to 22 classrooms in 5 schools. Through Explore in the Classroom, every enrolled kindergartner in Harrisburg School District and York City School District and in four of our partner schools in Lancaster received 3 books to take home.

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Story of Impact

WITF News followers may recall a 2020 report about a woman with a serious mental illness who had been pepper-sprayed and was kept in horrific conditions at Bucks County Correctional Facility. That reporting elicited widespread outrage, and days later the woman was moved to a state psychiatric facility. However, people who had been in jail or knew someone in jail were quick to tell WITF reporter Brett Sholtis that what happened in Bucks County was pretty common. Through the 2021-2022 Benjamin Von Sternenfels Rosenthal Investigative Mental Health Fellowship — a partnership between the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, Sholtis and WITF expanded the research to use of force in Pennsylvania county jails. Sholtis wrote right-to-know requests to 60 county jails, and interviewed experts and people who experienced use of force tactics in prison. The investigation found that corrections officers use physical force on people who may be unable to comply with orders due to a mental health condition; people with mental illness were routinely met with pepper spray and stun guns.

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WITF has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association with three Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. Since 2006, WITF has received 90 RTDNA regional Murrows – the most of any organization in Pennsylvania.


Rachel McDevitt’s multimedia package, produced as part of Climate Solutions, also was a finalist in the international Covering Climate Now awards’ engagement category. Her climate solutions work was honored by the Society for Environmental Journalists, receiving honorable mention in beat reporting. 

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Rachel McDevitt

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