Tiny news team at Lakeland Public Television fills gap left by commercial TV

Station managers who worry they can’t afford to do news and public affairs have only to look at Lakeland Public Television in Bemidji, Minn., for inspiration. Since 1998, the station has produced a full half-hour weeknight news program. It currently operates on a yearly budget of just $375,000 to $400,000. Lakeland News is “structured like a commercial newscast, without commercials,” said Bill Sanford, the station’s chief executive and director of engineering. It was conceived after the station secured funding to evaluate how to reinvent itself.