INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations are planning to expand their statewide news coverage, thanks to an infusion of funding. Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to support nine stations throughout the state.

The stations, which include six radio and three dual radio/TV licensees, make up IPB News and plan to use the funding to expand coverage in a variety of areas, including workforce development and immigration. Mark Newman, executive director of IPBS, says the funding will allow the organization to create a resource to help tell the story of Hoosier life.

"We'll have specialized reporters embedded across the state of Indiana, located at some of our various stations as far north as Elkhart (and) as far south as Evansville," said Newman. "We're hoping to create multi-platform content. The opportunities really are endless because one of the beautiful things about this, as an early adopter of this regional journalism consortium or collaborative concept, we sort of have the ability to make our way and become influencers of what other states might do or adopt in the future. So, this is a really cool test run that we're getting the opportunity to do."

The funding will cover the hiring of new beat reporters, a full-time managing editor and a dedicated video journalist. It will also include a daily, statewide radio talk show that will focus on the issues of the day and listener questions. 

Newman says their ambitions are big, with IPB News serving as a platform that will enable the organization to influence the national conversation.

"IPBS, in a broader sense, has the ability to become an influencer nationwide for activities that NPR or PBS engage in. We want that," said Newman. "We think there's a lot of great stuff happening in Indiana. We are reaching for the next level and this is one way in which we'll accomplish that."

Lloyd Wright, chief executive officer of WFYI Public Media in Indianapolis, calls the funding a "tremendous endorsement of the power of public media." IPB News says the news gathering and reporting will ramp up over the next several months and the new talk show is expected to launch at the end of the summer.