EIGHT, ARIZONA PBS CELEBRATES 50 YEARS
Before Big Bird and Elmo walked on to Sesame Street, even before there was a public broadcasting service, Eight, Arizona PBS signed on from a small trailer on the campus of Arizona State University. It was January 30, 1961. The fledging station’s very first broadcast day included a Community Bulletin Board, an audio-visual telecourse, two children’s programs (Magic Doorways and Young World), the evening newscast, a film on television and a film on the scientific method. The staff totaled five, and the broadcast hours were from 4 p.m. to
9:30 p.m. The transmitter signal reached homes only in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
In 1967, Congress gave its mandate to the newly created Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its imprimatur for annual federal appropriations. Eight continued to develop its own productions. (The station was honored with its first Emmy Award for 400 hours of local programming in 1964.) But viewers soon began to enjoy PBS’ signature programs. Washington Week in Review debuted in 1967. Evening at Pops’ first broadcast was in 1970. A new drama series – called Masterpiece Theatre – began in 1971 and Eight had its highest audience to date with “Upstairs, Downstairs.” In 1975, viewers saw The Ascent of Man, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and the first National Geographic Special The Incredible Machine.
Today, the broadcast schedule features PBS shows such as: Nova, Nature, Great Performances, Sesame Street, Live from Lincoln Center, Austin City Limits, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, PBS NewsHour, and so many more.
As the station prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Eight’s local productions are also hitting milestones. HORIZON, now a program of record for the state’s decision makers, will mark its 30th year in 2011. HORIZONTE, the program that offers a Hispanic perspective on Arizona issues, has now been part of the station’s public affairs schedule for eight years. And the Arizona Collection, the series that has become a video anthology of our state’s history, completes two decades of production in 2011.
Now after a half-century, Eight is one of the most watched PBS stations per capita in the country. The content is available on multiple digital channels and streamed online. The options for the Arizona station (that had its beginnings in a trailer) have never been greater.
“Over the course of five decades, Eight, Arizona PBS, has become a resource for lifelong learning, provided a platform for information and ideas, a gateway to culture and the arts, and a place to share the adventure of learning with curious young minds,” said Kelly McCullough, Eight’s General Manager.
Arizona PBS is a trusted community resource. For over 52 years, the PBS station has focused on educating children, reporting in-depth on public affairs, fostering lifelong learning and celebrating arts and culture. Arizona PBS achieves its mission through the power of non-commercial television, the Internet, educational outreach and community-based initiatives. Its signal reaches 80 percent of the homes in Arizona. With more than 1 million viewers weekly, Arizona PBS consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. For more information, visit azpbs.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr.
Arizona PBS is a member-supported community service of Arizona State University and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.