CELEBRATING OUR 60th YEAR!
Sixty years ago on April 1, 1954, television viewers in southwestern Pennsylvania saw the birth of an innovative concept called educational television. On that night at 8 pm, WQED signed on at channel 13 on the VHF dial and history was made. Fast-forward through the next six decades and WQED’s first black-and-white signal has grown into a multimedia powerhouse of educational public media.

WQED today consists of four television signals, three radio streams, a robust Interactive presence that ties into television, radio and education, and a groundbreaking educational initiative called iQ: smartmedia that is gaining a national presence.

Holland Mansion

1953

Metropolitan Pittsburgh Educational Television incorporates.

Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. gives old Holland mansion on the corner of Fifth and Bellefield avenues in Oakland to the University of Pittsburgh for use by WQED.

Students mark National Education Week with door-to-door campaign to “sell” educational television, collecting $2.00 per household.

1954

WQED, the first community owned station in the world, begins broadcasting Channel 13 at 8 p.m.

The Children’s Corner with Josie Carey debuts on WQED at 5:00 p.m. with the Fred Rogers as producer and co-host.

Josie Carey and Fred Rogers

"Big Bertha"

WQED develops in school programming

1955

WQED’s first remote broadcast truck was acquired and dubbed “Big Bertha” by the crew. It was designed to carry six people, three cameras and all the film, and audio equipment necessary for a remote broadcast. “Big Bertha” was often used for WQED’s coverage of the Allegheny County Fair.

WQED broadcasts the first instructional television program into elementary schools in the world.

1958

WQED wins Peabody Award for Heritage series which featured talks with Robert Frost, Dr. Jonas Salk, Martha Graham and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grants Channel 16 to WQED so it can double its in-school instruction broadcast services to 1,200 local classrooms.

1964

Historical marker located outside WQED at 4802 Fifth Avenue is dedicated.

More than 537,000 students in the tri-state area are being taught through WQED and WQEX instructional, television classes.

New transmitter installed, still broadcasting in black and white.

1965

First color program broadcast by WQED with new, powerful transmitter.

1966

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood begins broadcasting on WQED.

1967

Congress passes the Public Broadcasting Act, providing federal funding for public television and creating The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and National Public Radio (NPR).

Historical Marker

Mister Rogers' Set

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Mr. McFeeley’s story

Black Horizons

Groundbreaking

1968

Groundbreaking ceremony for the new WQED building at 4802 Fifth Avenue in Oakland.

Black Horizons, a program about the issues of the African American community in the region debuts on WQED, and would eventually become the longest running minority affairs program in the country until its conclusion in 2010.

Groundbreaking Ceremony

WQED

1970

WQED dedicates new building.

WQED adds a print division with the establishment of the Design Center, and publishes the QED Renaissance magazine, which later became Pittsburgh Renaissance before settling on Pittsburgh magazine.

1971

Cor-ten steel sculpture by Joseph Goto was moved to the front of the WQED building on long-term loan from the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Great TV Auction

The Great TV Auction

Manuscript of first words read on the air at WQED FM

1973

WQED forms a partnership with the National Geographic Society to co-produce television specials underwritten by the Gulf Corporation.

WQED-FM begins broadcasting as a fine arts radio station.

1975

WQED brings National Geographic Society Television Specials to public television, doubling national audience records with the premiere of The Incredible Machine, becoming the first PBS program to surpass its network competition until another National Geographic Society Television Special surpasses it.

Wonder Works logo

1988

The National Media Outreach Center is launched, a national community-television-education partnership.

Rick Sebak produces his first program for WQED called The Mon, the Al, and the O which later becomes part of an on-going series called the Pittsburgh History Series.

A three story office block is added to WQED’s headquarters in Oakland. Its completion marks the first time since 1983 that the entire WQED operation has been under one roof.

The Mon, the Al, and the O

1983

WQED airs the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed mini-series The Chemical People. Based on the anti-drug project by the same name, it was hosted by then first lady Nancy Reagan and was followed up by The Chemical People II.

1984

WQED wins George Foster Peabody Award for WONDERWORKS "Anne of Green Gables".

1985

WQED is one of five PBS outlets joining ABC to fight adult illiteracy.

1986

Planet Earth, National Geographic Specials and WonderWorks make WQED a top four producing station for PBS.

Rick Sebak at the library

 

1989

WQED-FM moves into the Bayer Broadcast Center for the Arts at WQED in Oakland.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? set

1997 drive brings in 35,000 sweaters

1991

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? debuts on WQED. The show is a co-production with WGBH in Boston, and is based on the successful computer game with the same name.

1993

Chris Fennimore hosts a television fundraising program with zucchini recipes. The overwhelming response leads to the creation of WQED’s “cooking marathons”, the QED Cooks series on WQED-TV and the America’s Home Cooking series, distributed nationally through American Public Television (APT).

1994

Parts of the romantic comedy Only You with award winning actors Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. is filmed at WQED’s studios.

1995

QED Communications rebrands as WQED Pittsburgh.

Chris Fennimore and Nancy Polinsky

 

 

1997

WQED and Family Communications, Inc. hold the first Mister Rogers Sweater Drive in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and collect over 35,000 sweaters for Goodwill Southwestern Pennsylvania

The Classical WQED-FM 89.7 simulcast of WQED-FM 89.3 goes LIVE in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1999

WQED Director of On-Air Fundraising T. J. Lubinsky produces Doo Wop 50. This program is the first of the My Music series programs which becomes the most successful fundraising program in PBS history, generating over $40 million for public television with over 30 music specials since.

Original OnQ staff

2003

WQED-FM 89.3 opens the Carolyn M. Byham Studio in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

2006

The War That Made America premieres on PBS. It is a four-part series on the French and Indian War by Executive Producer, Deborah L. Acklin, now WQED President and Chief Executive Officer.

2007

WQED: The Neighborhood Channel goes on the air on digital channel 13.3 with a themed schedule each month of WQED produced programs.

2009

WQED: The Create Channel goes on the air on digital channel 13.2 with a schedule of “how-to” programs.

WQED switches off its analog signal and becomes fully digital.

WQED sells Pittsburgh magazine to WiesnerMedia LLC of Greenwood Village, Colorado.

More than 5,000 people come through WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio for the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe Tour” to see the original set pieces from Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

2000

On Q debuts on WQED.

Mister Rogers Neighborhood films its final episode in WQED’s Studio A.

Final Mr. Rogers taping

Land of Make-Believe set

2009 studio tour

Pittsburgh From the Air

2012

WQED mobile website launches.

QED Cooks celebrates its 100th program with host, Chris Fennimore.

WQED markets its studios for event rental as The Studio on Fifth.

The Studio on Fifth

WQED-FM 89.3 launches Pittsburgh Concert Channel at wqedfm.org and over the air on WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) on HD Radio. Its broadcast includes 1,000 hours of archived, local performances from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Chatham Baroque, CMU School of Music and others.

2011

Pittsburgh from the Air, an all aerial journey of Pittsburgh’s seven county region becomes WQED’s first Blu-ray offering and most successful retail product.

Chris Fennimore and Nancy Polinsky

Cookies with logos from Rick Sebak shows

Rick Sebak celebrates his 25th year with WQED.

WQED Showcase goes on the air on digital channel 13.4 with a schedule of the best PBS music shows, local pledge specials and lifestyle programs.

WQED receives a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to begin production of August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, a national documentary on the life and work of August Wilson that will air as part of American Masters in 2014.

2013

For the first time in 19 years, a Pittsburgh-area student placed first in her respective grade category for the national PBS Kids Writers Contest, and is one of two students from WQED’s local Writers Contest to place nationally, for the second consecutive year.

WQED’s iQ Kids Radio begins broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week at iQKidsRadio.org. iQ Kids Radio is a commercial-free,

Cricket Branstrom and Haruka Doi