Public Broadcasting: A Half-Century of Public Service
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What hath man wrought? And how will man use his miracles?
The answer just begins with public broadcasting.


I believe the time has come to enlist the computer and the satellite, as well as television and radio, and to enlist them in the cause of education.
--President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967


On Thursday, public broadcasting in America turns 50, and Kansas City PBS (KCPT) joins America in saluting this national treasure. In signing the Public Broadcasting Act in 1967, President Johnson expressed the hope that one day, public television and radio stations would satisfy “America’s appetite for excellence” and “enrich man’s spirit.”
 
That legislation created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which today supports nearly 1,500 public media stations across the country by distributing federal funding amounting to roughly $1.35 per citizen, per year. At Kansas City PBS, this investment is critical to our operations. We leverage federal funding – many times over – to provide a welcoming space for childhood education and lifelong learning, the arts and culture, history, science, and civil discourse in Kansas City’s metropolitan area. 
The past five years have been exciting for Kansas City PBS as we have expanded services on many fronts. Together with more than 100 partner organizations, we continue to grow — from the launching of The Hale Center for Journalism (and our digital magazine flatlandkc.org) and 90.9 The Bridge to the beginning of the KCPT 24/7 PBS KIDS channel.

KCPT’s education services provide hands-on mentoring to nearly 1,000 at-risk children. We reach 3,360 students in high-needs schools with literacy programming, and we have trained more than 300 teachers to integrate media into their lesson plans each year.

At a time when local news coverage is dramatically reduced, public media stations are expanding their journalism network, innovating in their storytelling and reaching audiences on platforms they prefer, anytime, anywhere. In-depth news analysis from one of our local productions, Week in Review, celebrates 25 years this year, and continues to discuss difficult topics with faces and names you know. Flatland uses online video series, like In Situ, Sandlot and Libraries Out Loud to share perspectives on community values in our city.

Meanwhile, the much-beloved national programs that we have carried through years have educated, informed and inspired generations and strengthened our community, from FRONTLINE and American Experience to Masterpiece and Nature.
 
Public broadcasting was born during the height of the Vietnam War, which may explain our determination to find common ground on even the most difficult and divisive issues. Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s most recent documentary series, The Vietnam War, is a prime example. Kansas City PBS has used the film as an opportunity to foster dialogue by helping our veterans, their families, and our community share their stories--some for the first time.
 
Despite the disruption and rapid changes shaping today’s media environment, public broadcasting’s mission is more necessary than ever. We are to serve the American public with programming and services of the highest quality, using media to educate, inspire, entertain and express a diversity of perspectives. Kansas City PBS has been proud to support public broadcasting’s mission in Kansas City’s metropolitan area for more than 50 years. Join us this month as we toast a well-deserved happy birthday to public broadcasting!

KCPT Broadcast Fact: Kansas City’s first telecast of instructional programming was launched on March 29, 1961 by KCSD-TV, the call letters for the licensed channel 19 of the Kansas City School District. Superintendent James Hazlett addressed teachers and students in that telecast, and declared, “We now have the equipment and physical facilities to provide a powerful educational influence in metropolitan Kansas City.” 
 

Known today as Kansas City PBS, we’re dedicated to keeping the public in public media. As we look ahead, we’ll continue to help educate and inform lifelong learners and to serve as a reflection of what matters here in our metropolitan area. From high-quality children’s educational programming to civic-minded journalism available on-air and online, our mission is to serve you and our community.