Minnesota’s Pioneer PBS has partnered with the company Epilogg to allow viewers to create and submit obituaries to Pioneer’s website.
Featured on the schedule page of Pioneer’s website, the obituaries expand the Granite Falls–based station’s reach in the rural community it serves, said GM Shari Lamke. The station broadcasts to 45 counties across Minnesota and parts of Iowa and South Dakota.
Minnesota-based Epilogg allows users to combine photos, videos and text to tell the story of a person’s life. The free service allows users to send links to friends and family to view the page and promotes itself as a social media alternative to an obituary.
“Unlike the newspapers, where it is kind of limited to a picture and a number of words, [Epilogg’s] could be much more vibrant, and could be videos that they’ve put together, slideshows that they’ve put together to keep their loved ones’ voices kind of vibrant and tell a deeper story about their loved ones,” Lamke said. “… It’s all new — who knows where it might go — but I think the potential is there that it’s worth pursuing.”
Pioneer and Epilogg promoted the partnership on social media when it launched in November. There are now more than 70 Epilogg obituaries on Pioneer’s widget, according to Jane Helmke, president of Epilogg. Obituaries featured on the widget match the geography of Pioneer’s viewing area through the Zip codes of the funeral homes listed.
Lamke said that Epilogg can help people reach a wider audience with their obituaries. “It’s a good chance to get to know some of the people and some of the families of those people in our region,” Lamke said.
Because Pioneer doesn’t have to pay to use Epilogg, Lamke said that she was originally skeptical of using it but has come to see its value, especially because it is an easy service to provide. She said that it costs Pioneer little to maintain, requiring only a staff member to make sure the widget is working properly.
The obituaries appear on Pioneer’s schedule page because it is the website’s most-viewed page. The station may also feature the obits on Compass, a monthly public-affairs program, which could look like highlighting an “unsung hero” of the region, Lamke said.
Lamke said there is potential for the partnership to be long-term and that it holds a lot of promise for serving Pioneer’s audience.
“Because we serve such a large group of constituents, it’s hard to kind of be of service to everybody,” Lamke said. “We do that with our programming and our productions — we try and go to as many of those regions as possible to tell stories and to lift up the rural story, the regional stories.”
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Pioneer PBS is based in Appleton, Minn. It is in Granite Falls.