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New York, U.S.A. — New York’s Thirteen, the flagship station of PBS, celebrates 50 years of setting the gold standard for television and providing exceptional community and educational services to the New York metropolitan area.
Half a century ago, on September 16, 1962, legendary newscaster Edward R. Murrow introduced channel13, WNDT – “New Dimensions in Television,” which would later evolve into WNET. In the inaugural broadcast, Murrow said “Tonight, you join me on a great adventure…This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends.”
With its glorious past and promising future, Thirteen lives up to that mission, offering a relevant alternative to the commercial networks. Its programming was first distributed through the NET program distribution service, but in 1969, shifted to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), now in Washington, D.C.
Neal Shapiro, Thirteen’s sixth President and CEO, following Samuel Gould, John Kiermaier, James Day, John Jay Iselin, Dr. William Baker, says, “Thirteen has made a remarkable impact on television and New York during its five decades on the air. We’re even more excited to see the possibilities that the next 50 years present. There will surely be new technology and new delivery systems, but there will always be a need for quality content that inspires, educates and engages audiences. That’s a role Thirteen is perfectly placed to fulfill.”
As an original architect of PBS, Thirteen has pioneered a vision often emulated by the mainstream media. The station produces acclaimed content for the country’s nearly 360 member public television stations, reaching millions of people with its programs and initiatives. They include PBS’s most-viewed documentary series Nature; the seminal cultural biography series American Masters; television’s only regular performance arts series Great Performances, which includes Great Performances at the Met; one-of-a-kind reporting about the religious world in Religion and Ethics Newsweekly; the weekly news magazine Need to Know and the children’s on-air and online educational programs Cyberchase, Oh Noah!, and Mission US.
Among the commemorative events and programs will be:
Thirteen has been bestowed with television’s highest honors for following its mission. With nearly every performing arts channel either meeting its demise or changing its intent, the performing arts is one genre that has found its principal home on Thirteen through Great Performances, the longest-running performing arts series on television.
With its programs garnering 64 Emmy Awards and five George Foster Peabody Awards, Great Performances has received every major television honor. Naturecontinues to bring the best of the natural world to homes nationwide. The series has won 10 Emmys and three George Foster Peabody Awards. Among the American Masters series many awards are 23 Emmys – including for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series eight times since 1999 – the 2012 Producers Guild Award, 12 Peabodys, an Oscar and three Grammys.
Thirteen is part of WNET which is also the parent company of WLIW21 and the operator of NJTV. Beyond television, Thirteen continues to connect with our communities with mobile technology. The station developed comprehensive New York-centric apps with the MetroFocus iPhone app, spotlighting local news, transit and culture in and around New York City, and NYC-ARTS, which won About.com’s Readers Choice Awards for the “Best New York City App 2012.”
Among the benchmark series the station produced or presented over the decades were The Adams Chronicles, The Ascent of Man, Bill Moyers’ Journal, The Brain, Charlie Rose, The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, The Forsyte Saga, Frontier House, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, Innovation, and The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.