Ball State PBS Wins National Public Media Award for its Inaugural ‘Happy Little Fest’

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By Ball State Marketing & Communications—

MUNCIE, IN – “Happy Little Fest”/Ball State PBS was named the winner of the “Special Events” award within the Marketing and Communications category at this year’s National Educational Telecommunications Association’s (NETA) 55th Public Media Awards. The winners were announced at an awards gala on Sept. 10 as part of the 2023 NETA Conference and CPB Public Media Thought Leader Forum in Columbia, S.C.

Created in 2022 in honor of the 80th birthday of the late Bob Ross—the iconic painter and host of “The Joy of Painting”—and the 50th anniversary of Ball State Public Media (formerly WIPB), Happy Little Fest has become an annual family event that includes displays of the artist’s work, games, trivia contests, painting instruction workshops, a Bob Ross look-a-like contest, and more.

“We are exceedingly proud of the consistent innovation and creativity of the hard-working staff at Ball State PBS. This honor from the NETA is a great affirmation of their efforts,” said Dr. Paaige Turner, dean of the College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM). “Happy Little Fest is such a lively and joyful celebration, and it’s a wonderful way to allow Bob Ross’ mission and message to live on. The way the PBS staff brings together and provides programming for members across the community truly exemplifies the commitment that they, CCIM, and the University have to serving our community.”

Happy Little Fest was among eight category finalists vying for the prestigious Public Media Award, which honors work of the highest caliber in community engagement, content, education, marketing and communications, independent productions, and overall excellence. Awards were judged by expert panelists from within the public media industry and professionals working outside of public media.

Among the highlights of the inaugural Happy Little Fest, held Oct. 22, 2022, on Ball State’s campus, were panel discussions about Bob Ross and his WIPB connections; an opportunity for participants to relax to the sound of Bob Ross’ voice in a sensory studio—his actual painting studio; a display of 24 original Bob Ross paintings; and a record-setting 300-person painting workshop with Certified Ross Instructors®.

“Credit goes to the exceptional teamwork and vision of the Ball State Public Media team, which not only allowed us to transform an event into a world-record-setting, award-winning achievement, but also channeled the creativity inspired by Bob Ross,” said Dr. Phil Hoffman, assistant dean of Media within CCIM and general manager of Ball State PBS. “From crafting larger-than-life squirrels to collaborating with Ball State’s R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning to create the iconic 9-foot “Bob”-blehead, as Bob always said, ‘It’s your world. It can be whatever you want.’“

This year’s Happy Little Fest is set for 1-4 p.m. Oct. 1 at University Green, located between the Architecture Building and Bracken Library, 1120 N. McKinley Ave., on the Ball State University campus.

Visit the Ball State PBS event page for more details.

For more information about Ball State Public Media and its programming, visit and

About Ball State PBS
A Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate, Ball State PBS is licensed to Ball State University and serves nearly 1.5 million people in east central Indiana and western Ohio. Ball State PBS endeavors to educate, entertain, and engage the communities we serve through distinctive television programs and enriching community engagement.