BARC Electric Cooperative’s broadband project will be featured on the first episode of “Life in the Heart Land,” a new series airing on VPM/PBS. The show dives deep into the heart of America to meet the neighbors, communities and organizations that are creating unique solutions to rural America’s toughest challenges.

Facing formidable obstacles, these collaborators are breaking down divides and roadblocks to build new pathways to meaningful, positive outcomes that have the power to inspire empathy and action and to transform other communities across the nation. In rural America, you can find solutions around every bend.

The first episode, “Connection.” explores the innovative ways Virginia electric co-ops like BARC are tackling the lack of broadband access for their communities. BARC began construction on the co-op’s broadband project in 2017 as part of its mission to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves.

Today, broadband is viewed as the fourth utility, on par with electric, water and gas services, as a need people have at both home and work. Without reliable internet service, communities are left behind when it comes to education, economic development opportunities and telehealth, to name a few.

BARC CEO Mike Keyser tells a PBS audience about the co-op’s important foray into broadband. (Photo By: Steven Johnson)

“In solving our own unique communication problem for the cooperative, we were able to take this vision a step further and solve the digital divide issue for our consumers and community as well,” said BARC CEO Mike Keyser. “All BARC staff has touched this broadband project in some way. To have our story aired on VPM/PBS is a true honor and we are thrilled to have the evolving cooperative story told to a wider Virginia audience.”

Also part of the show are Greg Rogers, CEO of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, John C. Lee Jr., CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and Empower Broadband, and Casey Logan, CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative and Ruralband.

BARC hosted a sneak peak of the show on Nov. 3 at Hull’s Drive-In in Lexington. The show will premiere at 8 p.m. on Nov. 11. There are several opportunities to watch:
• Premiere air date: 8 p.m., Nov. 11
• Additional Air Dates: 6:30 p.m., Nov. 13, and 8;30 a.m., Nov. 14.

VPM Plus
• 9:30 p.m., Dec. 2,

STREAM (Anytime starting Nov. 11)
• VPM Facebook at 8 p.m., Nov. 11
• YouTube
• PBS App

—Report by Tish Blackwell, Director of Communications, BARC Electric Cooperative