Lakeshore PBS recently announced it will air the 30th Season of Prep Football Report (PFR) starting on August 22 at 7:30 p.m.
In the late summer of 1989, the Northwest Indiana local public television station, then known simply as WYIN – Channel 56, created a program featuring highlights from local high school football games from across the region. Over the years, the show expanded to feature commentary on more games and more schools, routinely ranging from Rensselaer to Michigan City.
Joe Arredondo, who has been a host with PFR since 1990, has been amazed by the ongoing popularity of the show. “The amazing thing to me is that the show has developed a big following with the football players and their families,” Arredondo said. “They all get together on Thursday nights and eat pasta and watch the show. It builds team unity and bonding and camaraderie.”
Lakeshore PBS would go on to expand coverage with PFR Scoreboard, a live show that airs at 10:30pm on Friday nights, giving people some of the best highlights from the week’s action shortly after the games. It allows players, parents and fans of all ages alike the opportunity to get the scores and hear commentary about their team’s play.
The two sports shows have featured several high school stars that have gone on to the NFL, such as Kawaan Short of East Chicago, who is currently a star defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. Eugene Wilson and Mike Neal, both of Merrillville, went on to successful professional careers, eventually winning the Super Bowl for the Patriots and Packers, respectively.
High school teacher and coach Wayne Svetanoff joined Arredondo on the program in 1998, bringing his knowledge of the local football scene and his love of the game to the series. The show would feature a ‘PFR Rewind’ segment showcasing the plays of the week and another called ‘Wayne’s World’ where Svetanoff would make his picks based on the week’s matchups.
“It is always touching to have parents and players come up to you in local stores, driving in their cars (honking), or even departing an airplane in Las Vegas, stop you and thank you for highlighting their athlete and team on the Thursday/Friday night shows,” Svetanoff said. “It’s a confirmation that people care about what we do for NWI.”
The show has embraced the community spirit of the games in other ways, showing other segments to the Friday night feel. “We have come to realize that the game is more than just what happens on the field,” said Production Manager Tony Santucci. “High school football in the region is so much more. I love going out and seeing how the fans, parents, teachers, boosters, and marching bands are all part of the experience.”
Tommy Williams, who was added to the lineup in 2015, was brought on to bring even more perspectives, as Williams regularly goes out to interview players and coaches throughout the week.
“Every time someone comes up to you and talks about what they heard on the show… it makes you realize just how blessed we are to do what we do. It makes me realize how blessed I am to work with two guys who had this show rolling way before I got there and yet make me feel like I’m part of the team,” Williams said. “What is really cool are the athletes and coaches we get to interview. And you call this a job?”
The 30th season of PFR kicks off Thursday, August 22 at 7:30pm and PFR Scoreboard premieres live on Friday nights at 10:30pm starting August 23 on Lakeshore PBS and Live on Facebook @LakeshorePrepSports. For more information or to get a complete schedule, visit LakeshorePBS.org.