History

Mission: WQED changes lives by creating and sharing outstanding public media that educates, entertains and inspires.

WQED was the nation’s first community-supported television station and went on the air on April 1, 1954.  In 1973, Classical WQED-FM 89.3 was founded as the region’s only 24-hour classical radio station.  

Today, WQED is educational public media with five television programming streams: WQED-TV; WQED Create; WQED WORLD; WQED Showcase; and WQED PBS Kids Channel. Three radio streams include: WQED-FM 89.3; WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; The Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-FM HD-2 and www.wqed.org/fm online provide WQED content for free to all residents in the viewing and listening area, and online around the world;  local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive, and iQ: smartmedia, WQED’s educational initiative.

WQED Pittsburgh has a proud history of honors, including 161 National and Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards, an Academy Award, and many, many others, including three Emmy® Awards for Station Excellence.

Throughout its history, WQED has partnered with hundreds of local community organizations toward improvements in education; arts and culture; community health; economics; and important local issues through its form of civic journalism.  These partnerships are a hallmark of WQED’s mission and are an important part of its daily activities.  As the only community-owned multimedia resource in the region, WQED is a convener, a central gathering place, and a conduit for other local non-profit organizations.

From local and national programming that exports Pittsburgh to the world to teacher training sessions and media literacy, WQED reaches every facet of life in southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, and western Maryland.  No other local media entity can match WQED’s footprint or impact.

Whether natives or transplants, most Pittsburghers know WQED.  Pittsburghers have come to rely on its quality programming and viewers and supporters appreciate WQED’s safe, educational content for children. WQED’s reverence for the city can be seen in local broadcasts that highlight Pittsburgh’s distinctiveness.

WQED has exported the region nationally with projects like The War That Made America, a four part historical documentary on the French and Indian War that aired nationwide on PBS; national cooking shows with Chris Fennimore; the Doo Wop music franchise; weekly national radio broadcasts of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and a continuing series of local and national documentaries by Emmy Award-winning producer Rick Sebak.

WQED’s latest national production, August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand, aired nationally on PBS American Masters in February 2015.  The documentary focuses on the life and work of Pittsburgh-native and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson and  includes the August Wilson Education Project, an extensive educational initiative in key cities across the country .

In addition to the local and national documentaries, WQED produces and airs local programs that capture the stories of advancement, arts and diversity in our region.

Classical WQED-FM is “the voice of the arts in western Pennsylvania” by highlighting all that the station has meant for the region with retrospectives, tributes, community events, and celebrations. WQED-FM has offered classical and fine arts and cultural programs since its inception in 1973, allowing listeners to hear live and recorded classical performances and learn the latest arts and culture news from Pittsburgh and around the world. Listeners can hear WQED-FM at 89.3 and on its repeater stations, WQED-FM89.7 /Johnstown.  In 2012, WQED launched WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM), which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. WQED-HD2 airs the Pittsburgh Concert Channel, exclusively broadcasting archived performances recorded by WQED from concerts by local performance groups.

WQED-FM’s national production of Pittsburgh Symphony Radio is heard around the country on more than 100 public radio stations.

 

Interactive and Social Media

WQED Interactive, a media portal to the world, makes the aforementioned WQED programs all the more accessible to viewers and listeners, any time, and any place. WQED reaches more than 50,000 people through social media.

 

iQ: smartmedia

iQ: smartmedia is the innovative model for WQED’s educational content for children and builds on the legacy of WQED’s educational mission to children and families, embodied by Fred Rogers.   Fred Rogers helped get WQED on the air in 1954 and produced Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in the WQED studios for more than 30 years.   Today’s iQ: smartmedia is tailored to 21st century families and creates and promotes educational games, music, web and TV videos, events, and workshops for children to have fun and learn.

WQED’s educational programs for children offer free and effective educational tools that can make dramatic differences in how children perform and achieve. Through television programs, multimedia toolkits, and community collaborations, WQED programs ensure that, “anytime is learning time.”  WQED engages in meaningful partnerships with other schools, organizations, and stakeholders nationally as well as across the region that have a vested interest in ensuring that children receive the highest quality education possible.  WQED serves 82% of the regions’ children ages 8 and under and 40,000 parents on a monthly basis, just through TV broadcast.

Parents can trust WQED. Adults who grew up with PBS characters as part of their lives pass that love on to their children. WQED’s free educational programs allow all children to participate, regardless of socio-economic background. And WQED gives parents the security of knowing that their children are viewing something that simultaneously entertains and educates. Parents can trust that their children aren’t being bombarded with commercials designed to encourage consumerism, as WQED is commercial-free. No other media in Pittsburgh provides parents with this level of safety, security and peace of mind.

WQED’s national television series, iQ: smartparent, brings to parents the latest information about how digital spaces shape children’s lives, and strategies to use media to its fullest potential, both in and outside of school, with the goal to help facilitate the positive use of media by their children.

 

Ready To Learn is a Major Part of WQED’s  Educational Outreach Program

WQED’s Ready To Learn initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, is dreaming big with projects that support early science and literacy learning for families.  Ready To Learn is an indispensable resource for local teachers and WQED is leading the charge to train educators on how to use the assets in their classes.  Below are the current Ready To Learn activities of WQED’s Education Department.

 

Pop-Up Libraries

Librarians are taking PBS Kids, library resources and programming on the road to meet families in their own communities.  The Pop-Up library events get resources into the hands of the neediest families, and encourage families to visit their local library. Libraries will “pop-up” at parks, community centers, food banks, and community festivals. During these Pop-Up events, librarians engage children with hands-on activities around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and literature.  Families and caregivers are provided resources and encouraged to sign up for a library card while the children are engaged in activities.  All children are able to take home books to keep, and are given PBS Kids activities to continue the learning at home.

 

After-School Mentor Program

WQED’s After-School Mentor program uses beloved PBS Kids characters from Peg + Cat, Nature Cat, Wild Kratts, Martha Speaks, and WordGirl to teach and foster STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) and literacy skills in young learners.

Science, technology, and engineering skills are developed in the After-School Mentor program by learning coding through PBS KIDS Scratch Jr., a free app that can be downloaded at home which allows learners to create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite characters from PBS shows. The creative app has endless storytelling possibilities and is for children ages 5-8. Children in the program also take part in science-based challenges where they construct, invent, and use circuits. Scientific exploration and deductive reasoning skills are developed in these projects.

Children are given the opportunity to develop literacy skills through buddy reading and gathering books tied into that month’s vocabulary lesson. Martha Speaks helps children learn vocabulary skills at an early age so that they can succeed in school and in life. Children learn how to role-play, take turns, tell stories, follow instructions, and develop listening skills, all of which are important to social-emotional development.

 

Family Creative Learning Workshops

Family Creative Learning is a program of four workshops and sessions designed for families with children ages 5-8 and younger and older siblings are welcome to attend. The goal of the program is to give families the opportunity to come together and learn with their children in a project-based creative process.

This program uses children’s natural creativity and extends it into early STEM learning. Creative play is used to introduce children and adults to digital tools they can use to develop computation and engineering knowledge, practices, perspectives, vocabulary, and skills as they work on their child-led family projects.

 

Lincoln Elementary/South Hills Interfaith Movement Community Garden

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Bethel Park, along with South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) and WQED are working together to build and sustain a community garden at the elementary school. Rooted in their desire to provide the families who use SHIM’s food pantries with fresh fruits and vegetables, SHIM operates 14 gardens to grow produce for distribution through their pantries. Through Ready To Learn, SHIM has partnered with WQED and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School and its teachers to develop a community garden as another resource for the food pantry. 

Teachers have created curriculum and STEAM lessons for the students to become the gardeners.  These lessons, which use Ready To Learn resources, will strive to help kids learn about the land, animals, food, garden design, sustainability, and compassion for their community members. Students and families document their garden’s creation and growth as creators of media content using technology.

 

Preschool STEAM Transition Days

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School hosts STEAM Transition Days for preschool-aged children who registered for kindergarten. The school encourages students and caregivers to attend four science and literacy-themed days of fun and activities. These activities using Ready To Learn content helps get caregivers comfortable with the school and excited and engaged with their child’s learning.

 

Back-to-School Backpack Distribution

WQED has partnered with South Hills Interfaith Movement in their Back-to-School backpack distribution for the 2016 fall season. Each August, SHIM provides children backpacks filled with the necessary supplies to head back to school feeling confident and ready to learn.

All the materials were donated by members of the community. Any family who needs help with basic back-to-school supplies is welcome to bring their children (K-12) to SHIM to receive new backpacks and supplies.

Hundreds of children received new backpacks filled with school supplies such as pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, calculators and other essentials at the backpack distribution events held at Baldwin United Presbyterian Church in Baldwin Borough and the SHIM Family Center at Prospect Park in Whitehall.

By partnering with SHIM, WQED is supporting children’s education through PBS programming and by directly impacting the community through these initiatives.

 

Inquire Within an Innovative Partnership with Local Libraries

WQED announced the kick-off of Inquire Within, a program in partnership between two key community institutions – WQED and local libraries in southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia.  Inquire Within aspires to re-imagine media-first partnerships that create impactful educational experiences in learning for children and families.

The Inquire Within libraries are powered by Chevron, EQT, XTO Energy and Fed Ex and launched the programming with WQED at libraries in Allegheny, Butler, Fayette, Washington counties in Pennsylvania, and in Marshall County, West Virginia and Harrison County, Ohio.

WQED is working with local and national library partners to create and implement PBS-themed curriculum that leverages public trust with a thirst for innovation in service of 21st Century learners, by developing a community of practice that can experiment, lead and sustain a new approach to “educational public media.”

 

WQED's Service to the Community

WQED's services are free to the people. All people. Just like libraries. No admission is required, no dues are collected, no tickets are sold.

The brilliance of the public service media model is that WQED does much more than air programming.  We leverage the educational value of that programming and take it out to the community to educate, engage and inform through real world learning.

WQED and public broadcasting stations nationwide are America's largest classroom, providing educational content that is available to all of America's children, including those who can't attend preschool. Research shows children gain valuable skills through our programs, including measurable improvement in literacy scores, and children who watch Sesame Street obtain higher grades in English, math, and science.

There is a difference between WQED and commercial media. In commercial broadcasting, the relationship is between the broadcaster and the advertisers, with the deliverable being the audience (number of eyeballs to the screen). In public broadcasting, the relationship is between the broadcaster and the audience. We represent the community and air programs that educate, inform, and engage our audience.

Public broadcasting is a public/private partnership that has served the community well. Non-commercial public service media started in Pittsburgh with Fred Rogers and WQED in 1954, and it continues and flourishes as an educational service to this city and the four-state area we serve – free of commercial influence and as an educational voice for our community.

 

UPDATED 1/31/17