MOVING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE
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On April 1, 1954 at precisely 8 p.m., images flickered across a previously unused portion of the television spectrum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – VHF Channel 13. With that was born WQED, the world’s first community-licensed public television station. Although its debut was modest, the Public Television Service that developed on this foundation was not.
The previous year, in April 1953, the station was incorporated. Its call letters would be WQED – “W,” the mandatory designation for this region and “QED” for the Latin “Quod erat demonstrandum,” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated.”
On Monday, April 5, 1954, a young man named Fred Rogers and his program named Children’s Corner featuring Daniel Striped Tiger and his puppet friends began to appear on WQED. The corner eventually became a neighborhood, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, to millions of children across the country. In 1955, WQED inaugurated instructional programs for children in the schools – the beginning of television in the classroom.
WQEX-TV/Channel 16 debuted on September 14, 1959, broadcasting highly specialized programs to meet the needs of select audiences, mainly business and industry. On April 3, 1970, WQED moved into a new building, its current address at 4802 Fifth Avenue in Oakland. On July 1, 1970, WQED established Pittsburgh Magazine and on January 25, 1973, WQED-FM signed on the air at dial number 89.3, providing fine arts and classical programming 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. In late 1997, WQEJ-FM89.7/Johnstown went on the air.
Over the years the organization has been known by a number of different names, starting with Metropolitan Pittsburgh Educational Television Station in 1954, followed by Metropolitan Pittsburgh Public Broadcasting in the 1960s, QED Communications in the 1980s, WQED Pittsburgh in the 1990s, and now, WQED Multimedia. The name change reflects organizational changes as WQED has evolved and responded to changing community needs and opportunities. The commitment to quality, service and community has always been at the foundation of the organization.
From generous donations in the beginning from local corporations and a community-wide drive with more than 60,000 western Pennsylvania residents donating $2 each to help kick off public television, to current fundraising programs, it is this spirit of giving that has nurtured and helped sustain WQED.
Today, WQED Multimedia provides educational, cultural and informational products and services that enhance and engage the community. It is the parent company of WQED tv13, WQED fm89.3, WQEJ fm89.7/Johnstown, a publishing division that includes PITTSBURGH magazine, local and national television and radio productions, www.wqed.org and the WQED Education Resource Center. The organization is exporting the local region to national audiences through WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh, and is “Telling America’s Stories” with the American Classics, All-American Documentaries, American Soundtrack and America’s Home Cooking television series.
As WQED celebrates a half-century, the commitment to this region and community partnerships have never been stronger. Digital television and radio, HDTV, an expanding Internet and ever evolving technology bring many new challenges and opportunities. Through its combined multimedia resources, WQED enters the digital age positioned to become the premier public broadcasting station in the country. With high anticipation and excitement, WQED Multimedia is moving forward to the future.
WQED Multimedia Mission Statement
"To provide educational, cultural and informational products and services
that enhance and engage the community"