In today’s television universe of over 500 channels, it’s not unusual for a new network or channel to suddenly appear. Just this year, Oprah Winfrey launched her very own channel. This was not the case 50 years ago. In 1961, as you knelt before the TV console, manually turning the dial, only three of the thirteen clicks revealed pictures and sound.
Imagine what it must have been like when suddenly a fourth click emerged from the TV snow! In Kansas City, it happened on Wednesday, March 29, 1961 when classrooms turned the dial to watch an educational lesson telecast from the Board of Education. Channel 19 was born.
Initial telecasts, from the ultra-modern KCSD television studios in the Board of Education Building at 12th and McGee, were only four and a half hours long. During the day, you might learn from one of 47 different educational lessons. At night, everyone could enjoy a cultural, civic and public service show.
50 years have come and gone since then. A lot has changed, but a lot remains the same.
In 1971, KCSD became KCPT as a community licensed public television station, broadcasting PBS programming in color for the first time.
We moved from the Board of Education building to the old KCTV5 studios on 31st and Grand Avenue. Then, we expanded into the old Allen Press building next door.
Our focus on education has never wavered. Today, we reach 53 districts, 100,000 students and 7000 teachers with educational programs like Learn 360, PowerMediaPlus and Teacher’s Domain.
We’ve gone from 70,000 students on UHF to reaching 2.2 million people with our digital signal.
Instead of channel 19 on the dial, KCPT has three digital channels with round the clock programs that are informative, engaging, heart-wrenching, gut-busting, eye-popping, mind-blowing.
While the viewing possibilities on KCPT have grown in size, number and quality, our mission, our core reason for existence, remains the same. Today, KCPT is a supplement for your children’s education with award winning and non-commercial shows like Sesame Street, Word Girl and Sid the Science Kid. Our programming can broaden your horizons, take you to the heights of mountains, the depths of our oceans and the breadth of our forests. KCPT is where you can discover more about you and your extraordinary potential. And, we are a place to come together with our community — peeking behind the scenes with the KC Symphony, dining and dishing at area restaurants, or analyzing local and national policies. If you look back 50 years, you’ll see we’ve been doing this all along. We hope you’ll be a part of our next fifty years.