Mapmaker! Mapmaker! Make Me a Map...

Maps of all kinds have been around for 1000s of years. Ancient Babylonians created maps on clay tablets; Medieval European maps were dominated by religious beliefs; and Renaissance explorers used maps to discover new worlds.

As people began moving around the world, world wars and revolutions altered empires, and technology opened up the World Wide Web, maps have evolved. With this evolution, we are all explorers and with the help of Google Maps, we all have the ability to create our own landscapes.

Public media stations have been at the forefront of multimedia mapping for several years now. Back in 2007, KPBS provided invaluable resources to stations during the wildfires that were sweeping through the region. The station provided a San Diego County Fires Google Map showing its community where to find emergency resources and avoid dangerous fire spots. Since then, maps have been used to show where the best restaurants can be found in the Bay Area, to celebrate the diversity of Columbus neighborhoods, and we’ve even used them here on the SPI team to show COVE adoption and Merlin On-boarding status.

Most recently, WETA has found mapping to be an efficient way to extend local productions online with their Area Attractions video tour map. "Maps are much more engaging than a simple list of the places featured in a given program,” says Jess Snyder, Web Systems Manager for WETA. “Through our WETA Around Town segments, we have connections to many regional venues and events and maps provide an interesting way to highlight those relationships while providing a valuable resource to our audience. As a bonus, by highlighting the Washington region in a very visual way, they help make the connection that we are a local station producing local programming.”

How does your local station use mapping to reach your audience? We’d like to know about it – contact us or leave your comments and links below.


  1. Teresa Peltier - WSKGMay 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    At WSKG, we did a really simple plotting of radio tower locations and contributors (kept their identities anonymous) during a recent radio fundraiser. We got positive staff and online-audience feedback, but with the craziness that can be fund-drives, we didn't incorporate it into the workflow permanently.

    We've also started a map of our underwriters, and hope to eventually incorporate it into a member benefits tool with discount and special information for donors.

  2. In 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, as SOPTV presented the film 400 YEARS OF THE TELESCOPE to PBS stations, we also mapped planetariums and NASA Nightsky Network astronomy clubs all over the country ( to encourage viewers to get out there and "look up" at the skies for themselves. Participating stations were given direct links that localized to their specific viewing areas.

  3. At WPT, we made a yearly map for two of our news and public affairs programs that shows where in Wisconsin we did reports each season. Each pin provides the user with the report title, brief description and link to the video. The current map is embedded into the website along with a key so people know what types of reports we produced in their area. Our complete 2009/2010 map -

    I also recently made a simple map for our PBS Kids Open House that was just a big logo pin with a green box highlighting the area where the event is taking place. Once we have a better idea of construction and availability, I'll be adding additional markers for people to find parking.