The History of WXXI Public Broadcasting Council
The story begins. Rochester Area Educational Television Association (RAETA) is organized. Charter is granted to RAETA by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. Almost all 13 Trustees had been nominated by educational and cultural institutions. The prime intent of the founding Trustees was to provide educational programming via television (Educational Television—ETV) with a major focus on broadcasting to classrooms. First officers elected were Dr. Howard Seymour, President; Dr. Donal Tower, Vice President; Mr. Harold Hacker, Secretary; and Msg. Charles Boyle, Treasurer. The first paid staff member was Mr. Lee Edwards who worked part-time as an executive secretary.
Office space for RAETA is provided by the City School District in the old East High School at 410 Alexander Street. Assignment: The World premieres. Today Assignment: The World is the longest-running instructional program on television.) Lloyd Kaiser, the first staff to be employed, began producing ETV programs for RAETA. The first program series was College Next Fall.
An educational series is produced for elementary students. Through borrowed airtime, 60-90 minutes of programming is broadcast each weekday morning on local commercial television stations.
The five-year quest for a broadcast license begins—first to operate an Educational Television station on Channel 13, then to establish UHF Channel 21. Application is made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for Channel 13 in Rochester.
WXXI tapes several educational series and broadcasts them over commercial stations. Congress approves the Educational Broadcasting Facilities Act, which provides $32 million to help communities activate new stations. Congress passes the All Channel Receiver Act, which requires television set manufacturers to produce units with UHF as well as VHF reception capacity.
RAETA presents its first program produced in its own production center, which was in the basement of Old East High School at 410 Alexander Street. It is broadcast on Channel 13. Beaumont Newhall of the Eastman House and The Daguerreotypes are broadcast.
The Hearing Examiner’s decision in RAETA’s favor was issued in January; the Commission held its oral hearing in November.
The New York State Legislature approved the requests of Governor Rockefeller, the State Education Department, and the State University for funds to expand the state’s ETV facilities. Included in the 1965-66 budget was a $250,000 capital grant toward an ETV station in Rochester and funds to establish a statewide ETV network by the State University. The money earmarked for Rochester, however, had to be matched locally no later than March 31,1966. FCC issued a most surprising Memorandum Opinion and Order. They announced the hearing would be reopened in which RAETA would be required to demonstrate why it should not be assigned UHF Channel 21 and ABC would be given an opportunity to express its displeasure with our share-channel proposal and to state whether it would affiliate with Rochester Telecasters (RTI), RAETA’s partner. RAETA’s board met on May 27, to assess the impact of the FCC action and to adopt a course of action. The Trustees decided to protest the FCC decision and to petition the Commission to reverse itself. They also decided to begin an immediate investigation of the costs of activating and operating UHF 21 (and of the reaction of the schools and colleges to UHF). RAETA and RTI jointly filed a strongly worded petition for reconsideration with the FCC. Meanwhile, representatives of our eight commercial opponents made an offer to reimburse RAETA fully for all expenses incurred in the Channel 13 case. An agreement was made between three of the companies for full reimbursement if WXXI withdrew from the hearing, subject to approval of the FCC. It was estimated then that this would amount to approximately $75,000, of which $8,500 was owed to WXXI’s attorneys. It was the intention to apply the difference toward the Channel 21 capital budget. RAETA board met to make a final decision. After a review of the proposed capital and operating budgets and of potential sources of income for both, the trustees voted to authorize Mr. Hacker to take all the necessary steps to activate Channel 21. They adopted a Capital and Development Budget of $847,000 and voted to start an immediate local campaign to raise $425,000. Mr. Hacker also sought permission of the FCC to withdraw from the Channel 13 hearing. On September 24, a public announcement was made about the two decisions. Work on the Capital and Development Fund campaign for Channel 21 began. Because of stringent deadline dates for applying for state and federal funds, the Board set a 90-day time limit to raise $425,000 in the Rochester area—without a formally organized campaign in the usual Rochester tradition. Under the leadership of Trustee Tom Hanks, RAETA Trustees presented a case for Channel 21 to corporation and foundation officials. The response from Rochester business firms and foundations was both generous and speedy. They recognized WXXI’s unusual predicament and agreed to contribute the vast percentage of the local campaign goal. The Board then conducted a limited solicitation of known supporters by mail. In January 1966, all cash and pledges were raised.
The end of the quest for a broadcast license. On September 6, 1966, UHF channel 21 becomes a reality, broadcasting 10 hours of programming, five days a week. Three remotes are produced this year, using rented and borrowed equipment. John Porter becomes General Manager.
Public affairs efforts continue to grow. Congress passes the Public Broadcasting Act, establishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to promote growth of the industry. New York State educational TV stations form a network and with 17 other stations create the Eastern Educational Network (EEN). Carnegie Commission on Education Television publishes report, “Public Television: A Program for Action.” Commission report initiates the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, establishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private nonprofit corporation established to foster the growth and development of public television and radio stations. Channel 21 begins weekend broadcasting.
Channel 21 broadcasts election previews, the city-school budget hearing and 40 half-hour cultural and public affairs programs called Rochester Eye. WXXI connects to the statewide New York Network system.
The first Channel 21 Auction is held. With the help of 70 volunteers, $75,000 is raised. Channel 21 provides live coverage of the FIGHT convention. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is chartered as the national distributor of public TV programs. The newly purchased black and white remote truck goes on location for documentary productions and high school football games. Remote truck used to cover Urban League Conference. First Program Policy Statement is adopted. John Porter leaves WXXI becomes the Executive Director of EEN. William Pearce becomes President and General Manager of WXXI. Sesame Street premieres.
Call 21 is launched. It will become one of the longest running, phone-in programs on air. Channel 21 broadcasts Chuck Mangione’s Friends & Love concert; a nine-hour hearing on school desegregation; and the Urban League’s Black Family Conference. The National Amateur Tennis Championships are broadcast throughout the Eastern Educational Television Network. Masterpiece Theatre premieres. First local program broadcasts in color.
Channel 21 airs political debates and President Nixon’s visit to Rochester. RAETA Board votes to apply for a FM radio frequency and 91.5 is “dropped in” and the FCC grants RAETA a construction permit. Odyssey is launched with the Teen League.
On December 3, a $2.9 million capital campaign for a Public Broadcasting Center in Rochester is announced. Dave Strassenburgh leads the campaign. The Friends of WXXI is formed as a link to the community. Channel 21 broadcasts the hearing on Governor Rockefeller’s Attica Commission. News for the Deaf, a weekly captioned show, premieres on WXXI—the only broadcast in the U.S. The Fischer-Spassky Chess Championship from Iceland is broadcast, making WXXI one of only three stations in the country to undertake what turned out to be a smash hit (the other two were the stations in Boston and New York). Channel 21 goes color with new studio equipment.
Groundbreaking for a new Public Broadcasting Center takes place on August 18, at 280 State Street. WXXI originates 26 half-hour programs on The Older American, funded by the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation. WXXI’s Spanish-language news program ¿Que Pasa? Rochester premieres. Telethons for the Red Cross Blood Bank and the Eye and Human Parts Bank are broadcast. Uganika (meaning Unite in Swahili), designed by and for the Black Community, airs.
WXXI-FM 91.5 goes on the air. The new Public Broadcasting Center on State Street opens on December 23. WXXI serves a seven-county area as the primary source for government coverage with the only fully equipped color television production truck in the region. WXXI delves into controversial social issues such as women’s rights, prison reform and health problems. RAETA plans programming for schools with the aid of a new Instructional Television Committee. WXXI’s instructional TV programs reach 325,000 students in the U.S. and Canada. WXXI begins offering college courses for credit. An active intern program is established. Welcomed by WEDGE, the Brown Square Neighborhood Association, WXXI shares its vision of a re-vitalization of the area through such projects as the new Public Broadcasting Center.
Newsroom goes on the air February 10. Channel 21 broadcasts from its new building center. Inside Albany, National Geographic Specials, Adventures in Good Music with Karl Haas premiere on WXXI. With Heart and Voice, a weekly program produced by WXXI that is now heard on more than 100 stations throughout the country, premieres on FM 91.5. The first broadcast of Live From Hochstein hosted by Simon Pontin, airs (January).
WXXI is 10 years old. 2000 people attend the 10th Anniversary party on State Street. Monty Python series pulls in the biggest audience of any station in Rochester. Philharmonic Preview on FM 91.5 features interviews with RPO guest artists. Doctor Who premieres on WXXI.
WXXI prepares for PBS satellite interconnection via agreement with the Town of Webster, to place an earth station on a bluff overlooking Irondequoit Bay. First Geraldine Reddig Award for Outstanding Employee is awarded. FM 91.5 features live call-in with Aaron Copland and produces Sundays in Manhattan Square Park. Chicago Symphony Orchestra premieres on radio and Mark Russell premieres on TV. Classical 91.5 produces and hosts the Rochester Philharmonic Broadcast series. (FYI: There were quite a few years (mid/late 1980’s into early/mid 1990’s -- it would be interesting to figure out those dates) when there were no broadcasts because the RPO musicians wouldn’t allow it.)
WXXI links to PBS, making it the first television station in Rochester to utilize satellite transmission. The WXXI Radio Mobile Unit is completed and ready for remote production. Even the Desert Will Bloom is the second-place winner in the Dartmouth College Media Awards. FM 91.5 collaborates with NPR in production of Civilization and Its Discontents, which becomes a Prix Italia Award winner. CPB launches a national satellite interconnection.
The RAETA Community Advisory Board is formed, reflecting diverse needs and interests in the community. WXXI hosts a reception in Belleville, Ontario to honor its Canadian members. A satellite dish is installed in the State Street parking lot linking FM with NPR’s nationwide satellite system. TV 21 and FM 91.5 are the first broadcasters in Rochester to receive satellite-relayed programming. FM 91.5 broadcasts the RPO Concert live from Carnegie Hall. Governor Carey signs the New York State public broadcasting bill guaranteeing a minimum level of government support for public stations—state money must be matched, dollar for dollar. WXXI produces Music from Chautauqua, What’s Wrong with Rochester and Fiddler’s Picnic. All Creatures Great and Small and The Shakespeare Plays premiere on TV. Ground is broken on Pinnacle Hill for new antenna and transmitter.
The installation of new antenna, tower and transmitter on Pinnacle Hill expands WXXI-TV’s reach to an estimated additional 50,000 homes. FM 91.5 expands service to 24 hours a day. First wine tasting held at Wilson Commons at the University of Rochester. Victory Garden premieres on TV.
A group of public radio stations creates American Public Radio, a distribution service and membership organization. WXXI produces Rochester Week, A Woman’s Place and Killing Rains.
The FM news team receives ten New York State Associated Press broadcasting awards. Simon Pontin hosts the first Vox Populi Sing-Along at Ontario Beach Park. WXXI produces Outdoors, a weekly series highlighting local activities; award-winning Get Up, Stand Up, with the Bucket Dance Theatre; and A Tribute to Alec Wilder. American Playhouse and Brideshead Revisited premiere. RAETA Board commissions a feasibility study to determine need for second radio service devoted to news and information. Survey shows community support for service.
NPR is in a financial crisis. WXXI commits to contribute $40,000 over a three-year period to help reduce NPR’s debt. WXXI produces 21 Review, a monthly arts and entertainment magazine; and Fascinatin’ Rhythm.
AM 1370 goes on the air July 2, as a public affairs, news and jazz station. FM 91.5 converts to a classical music format. WXXI hosts a second Canadian reception in Cobourg. City Newspaper readers choose FM 91.5 as Rochester’s Best Radio Station. WXXI celebrates the Silver Anniversary of Assignment: The World. First annual “Kids Day” at WXXI studios is attended by 400 youngsters. WXXI produces The Rochester I Know, Ginna: The Emergency Plan and Chuck Mangione Sesquicentennial Concert.
The historic Parazin Building is donated to WXXI. A new state-of-the-art mobile television unit hits the road for WXXI-TV. FM 91.5 introduces compact disc recordings, improving clarity of sound. Kids America premieres on AM 1370. WXXI-TV produces Skating Spectacular, Gap’s Generation, and The Paper Curtain, which waspraised by New York Times as “a splendid piece of work.”
WXXI-TV begins stereo broadcasts of selected programs. GED on TV debuts on WXXI. RAETA Board of Trustees undertakes a project to re-examine and define the mission of public broadcasting in Rochester. 3,000 volunteers help out with the Auction. WXXI produces Fins, Feathers and Fur, an educational series for classroom instruction in writing; Eastman Brass; Brain Stormers; and The Martin Luther King Celebration Concert with the RPO. National Audubon Specials premieres.
WXXI’s Manchild Revisited: A Commentary by Claude Brown is praised by the New York Times as an “intelligent examination of an enormously important issue.” WXXI’s Educational Services Department receives Service Award from the New York Association of Continuing Community Education for providing GED instruction and counseling. FM 91.5’s With Heart and Voice Easter program airs in 26 cities throughout America. WXXI covers Chautauqua Conferences on US-Soviet Relations. AM 1370 launches 1370 Connection. The Winters Group conducts a market research survey to ascertain how television and radio debates influence voters’ opinions. WXXI produces the Peabody Award-winning documentary Safe Haven, distributed nationally by PBS. FM 91.5 resumes RPO concert broadcasts.
RAETA Board approves a partnership with Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired to sponsor Reachout Radio, a closed circuit reading service for print handicapped. Who Cares for the Children, a three-hour documentary call-in dedicated to issues surrounding childcare attracts hundreds of phone calls. Annual Auction’s biggest hit is a pair of slacks worn by James Dean in East of Eden. WXXI-TV ranks 11th in viewership among 350 public television stations throughout the country. WXXI-TV institutes a new weekly program, New York Lawn & Garden. The Albany News Bureau makes its debut on AM 1370.
RAETA officially becomes WXXI Public Broadcasting Council. Reachout Radio celebrates its fifth anniversary and hosts national conference of radio reading services. With Heart and Voice and Fascinatin’ Rhythm are syndicated nationally. Well-known actor David Birney hosts WXXI-TV’s 13-part series Raising Kids. AM 1370 wins award from NY State Associated Press Broadcasters Association for investigative reporting. City Sounds continues to broadcast jazz concerts from St. Joseph’s Park. WXXI’s Ice Cream & Cookie Day at the Zoo sets an all-time zoo attendance record. Friends of WXXI donate 47,756 hours to the station resulting in a matching grant of more than one-half million dollars from PBS. Thomas Hawks, longtime RAETA Trustee, is honored by WXXI Associates, as were Alice Wood Wynd and Mark Ellingson before him. The first Fine Art & Craft Showcase is a success. WXXI honors its charter members – 562 of the 1,500 original members are still active. SoundBytes premieres on AM 1370. Daniel Schorr is the first guest lecturer of the Alice Wood Wynd Memorial Lecture.
FM 91.5 celebrates its 15th anniversary. WXXI goes to the White House to tape the inaugural lecture in a series on great presidents, established by President and Mrs. George Bush. WXXI Associates honor F. Ritter Shumway. GED on TV attracts a record number of students. In July, WXXI breaks ground for a new 45,000-square-foot addition to the Public Broadcasting Center that will bring all of WXXI’s services under one roof. Newscast from the Past elected to Classroom Television Hall of Fame. Tom Peters lecture is a sell-out. WXXI-TV chosen to produce White House Concerts Series. WXXI receives visits from Christopher Timothy, Yo-Yo Ma, Bob Edwards, Barbara Fields and PBS Executive Vice President, Jennifer Lawson.
WXXI-TV is 25 and the new building addition is opened with a weeklong celebration. The third installment in the series of White House Lectures is produced. Out on a Whim, Headline, Intolerance, NYL&G Mailbag all premiere on WXXI.
The new building is completed and occupied. Reachout Radio moves to State Street, completing the goal of having all services under one roof. Homework Hotline wins a New York State Emmy Award. Through a partnership with the City of Rochester, WXXI begins the programming of Cable City 12. The 25th Anniversary contributor wall on the first floor of WXXI is complete. WXXI Reports, a half-hour news magazine/documentary program begins airing on Fridays at 9:30 p.m. The WXXI general auction is held in Studio A. Audiences for WXXI television and radio are at an all time high.
¿Que Pasa? Rochester celebrates 20 years on WXXI-TV. WXXI’s Remember When premieres and is a huge success. Harlem Renaissance premieres. Voice of the Voter Mayoral Debates, a groundbreaking series of four live debates from each corner of the city airs. Mayor Johnson credits debates for his victory in ’93. Garrison Keillor returns to FM 91.5 with American Radio Company of the Air. The first Sesame Street Education Project workshop is held. In Search of the Dead, a three-part co-production with the BBC and WXXI-TV premieres. Homework Hotline receives the Apple Award for excellence in children’s educational programming. AM 1370’s Karen DeWitt of WXXI’s Albany news bureau wins the Walter T. Brown Memorial Award. WXXI-TV’s production of Altered States: Alcohol and Other Drugs in America premieres and is distributed nationwide.
Fascinatin’ Rhythm wins a Peabody Award. WXXI holds the AKZ0 Salt Mine Town Meeting. A new television series, called New York Speaks Out, includes a monthly live call-in with Governors Cuomo and Pataki premieres. Sesame Street celebrates its 25th season on PBS. WXXI receives a grant to produce Flight to Freedom. NPR’s Susan Stamberg is guest lecturer for the Alice Wood Wynd series at Nazareth College. WXXI-TV airs the Three Tenors Live from Los Angeles delivering the largest audience in station history. For the first time, FM 91.5 broadcasts three live programs for the Jewish High Holy Days. AM 1370 broadcasts a live Town Meeting on the future of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and produces a series on Christianity in Rochester.
William J. Pearce retires from WXXI after 26 years of service as President and General Manager. Norm Silverstein becomes President and CEO of WXXI. NPR’s digital satellite service begins. WXXI launches its Ready to Learn initiative. WXXI’s Tin Cup Café; Head, Heart & Hand: Elbert Hubbard & The Roycrofters; and You Must Remember This premiere. First television news and public affairs collaboration with WOKR NewsSource 13 and Democrat and Chronicle airs Grading Our Schools, funded by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism. WXXI’s production Flight to Freedom with Cicely Tyson premieres. Altered States receives a New York State Emmy for outstanding Societal Concerns Programming.
WXXI goes online at wxxi.org. FCC mandates that all public television stations must begin digital broadcasting by May 1, 2003. WXXI’s satellite uplink is installed, making it the only satellite uplink in the Greater Rochester area. WXXI collaborates with WOKR NewsSource13 and the Democrat and Chronicle on Make Us Safe. The Assembly Debate is the first Voice of the Voter partnership voter event. The Audrey Saphar Memorial Journalism Internship Program is introduced. WXXI Reports receives its 10th honor with an award from American Women in Radio and Television in the Public Affairs Category. The Kids Place is introduced as a safe place on television where children can learn without violence or commercials. WXXI-TV produces Last Bat: Silver Memories a look at six decades of Rochester sports Silver Stadium.
Two-radio programs, 1370 Connection and SoundBytes are simulcast each week on Cable City 12. Lawrence Welk stars begin visiting WXXI annually. Groundbreaking Voice of the Voter collaboration received national exposure with measurable impact on the Constitutional Convention. Need to Know replaces WXXI Reports. Ken Burns’ Thomas Jefferson four-hour documentary sets a new record as the most viewed program on WXXI-TV. Richard Gladwell celebrates ten years of national distribution of With Heart and Voice. WXXI introduces a new logo.
A new audio remote radio truck is purchased with grant support. WXXI-TV’s Emmy Award-winning documentary Echoes from the Ancients airs nationally on PBS. WXXI-AM 1370 and TV 21 participate in broadcasts of Celebrate ’98 in Seneca Falls. Mitch Miller comes to WXXI to help with the membership drive. Voice of the Voter Democratic Primary Gubernatorial Debate, 28th Congressional Debate and 27th Congressional Debate air. Fund raising for the capital campaign to begin digital broadcasting begins (21/21 Vision Campaign).
WXXI-FM 91.5 turns 25. Reachout Radio is 20 and AM 1370 is 15 years old. WXXI-FM adds a full-powered radio station, WJSL 90.3, located at Houghton College to extend FM 91.5 coverage to the Southern Tier. WXXI-TV receives its digital television construction permit for Channel 16. Live audio streaming of Classical 91.5 and AM 1370 begins on wxxi.org. Capitol Steps is broadcast live nationally from Nazareth College by Classical FM 91.5/90.3. Not for Ourselves Alone, a Ken Burns production that spotlights Susan B. Anthony, is broadcast nationwide. Erich Kunzel visits WXXI radio and helps with the on-air membership campaign. WXXI Radio’s Gabriel Award-winning drama The Voice in the Wilderness airs nationally on Public Radio International (PRI). Reachout Radio hosts the international reading service conference. Voice of the Voter with Senator Schumer is carried statewide and Voice of the Voter County Executive debate airs. Seeking Solutions was the first citizen conference on violence to use the Rochester Area Interactive Telecommunications Network (RAITN) interconnects in order to fiberlink rural, urban and suburban sites. WXXI hosts a regional and statewide summit meeting on upcoming transition to digital broadcasting.
A new millennium begins. Pat Mitchell becomes the fifth president in PBS history and its first female chief executive. With Heart and Voice celebrates its 25th anniversary. Michael Lasser celebrates 20 years of Fascinatin’ Rhythm. WXXI-TV Auction becomes Spring Marketplace. WXXI-TV’s award-winning documentary Warrior in Two Worlds airs nationally on PBS. Echoes from the Ancients is inducted into Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. WXXI-TV broadcasts two days of digital television in Studio A on June 8 and 9. NPR’s Diane Rehm visits Rochester for special event. WXXI presents live Vacation Day Event from Eastview Mall—this was instead of the August membership drive. Homework Hotline turns 10 years old. Outreach for Bill Moyers’ On Our Own Terms embraces Rochester community. WXXI launches the statewide political Web site, NYElection.org, providing this service to all New Yorkers through the nine NYS public television stations. WXXI, along with the other New York public television stations, hosts Digital Day in the Capital Building in Albany. WXXI produces Houses of Worship and Canal Towns. WXXI produces Voice of the Voter town meeting with First Lady and Senate Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton—it airs locally and receives national exposure.
WXXI-TV celebrates its 35th anniversary. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, WXXI reaches out to the community through its Rochester Unites stationwide initiative. WXXI begins construction of the new digital technical center. WXXI’s annual Auction goes online. WXXI helps to bring Luciano Pavarotti to Rochester with a concert at Blue Cross Arena. NPR’sTalk of the Nation broadcasts live from Rochester’s Hochstein Music School. WXXI-TV celebrates Rochester with the production of Horses on Parade and Secret Gardens of the Flower City, which is WXXI’s first digital production. Voice of the Voter Sheriff’s Debate is the first broadcast using SAP in Spanish in the Rochester market (also re-aired in Spanish using SAP in English). NYElection.org gets a facelift for non-election years and becomes NYcitizens.org.
Homework Hotline expands statewide. WXXI commemorates the one-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks with its Rochester Remembers outreach. Voice of the Voter brings the democratic gubernatorial candidates debate between H. Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo to a statewide audience. Local And Thou Shalt Honor outreach successfully reaches caregivers in the Rochester community. WXXI is the catalyst in launching its ITV online video-on-demand service. What the Tech! Premieres on AM 1370 and The Concert Companion with Christopher Seaman premieres on Classical 91.5/90.3. WXXI produces Great Homes of Rochester and More Great Homes. WXXI Auction celebrates its 35th Year. Need TO Know Explores the Rise of Homeless Youth in Rochester. Director of the AIDS Center at Strong Talks about the Increase of AIDS among Hispanics on Que Pasa? Rochester.
Perspectives with Curt Smith premieres on AM 1370 (May 1). WXXI produces Oak Hill: A Great Walk Celebrated. WXXI enters the digital era when WXXI-DT signed on with Rochester’s first full-power digital TV signal. Broadcasting from Pinnacle Hill, WXXI-DT includes a full-time High Definition (HDTV) channel, a 24-hour non-commercial children’s channel, adult education and enrichment programs and a digital version of the regular programming on Channel 21 (September 4). WXXI produces Golisano. WXXI Radio News and RNEWSannounce a new collaboration to keep Rochesterians better informed – RNEWS will provide weather updates on AM 1370 and FM 91.5/90.3. WXXI broadcasts the first Voice of the Voter debate between County Executive candidates Democrat William A. Johnson, Jr. and Republican Maggie Brooks. “HSBC in the Community” Foundation grants WXXI $49,000 to produce a new series of segments for WXXI-TV’s Assignment: The World. WXXI and Strong Health host the first speaking of Women’s Health Conference (November 13). WXXI Launches Online K-12 Video On-Demand Service. WXXI and the University of Rochester Broadcasting Company form a broadcast partnership to co-operate WRUR-FM 88.5. The partnership has enabled AM 1370 to simulcast local and national programming on WRUR-FM, helping to fill open airtime on WRUR-FM.
WXXI receives a $2 million dollar gift from B. Thomas Golisano to support the 21/21 Vision Campaign. WXXI is awarded a contract form the New York State Education Department to launch an educational center for professional development. WXXI will serve as the Mid-West Regional Adult Education Network for NYSED. WJSL-FM 90.3 begins broadcasting a new schedule that includes a mix of NPR news and Classical music. AM 1370 is one of 20 NPR stations to participate in the NPR Auction. WXXI-TV launches its national health series, Second Opinion. The 13-episode production is broadcast on PBS stations across the country. FM 91.5 turns 30 and a commemorative CD is produced to celebrate. Local artist David Cowles designs the artwork for the CD cover and a small amount of posters are printed with the same artwork. AM 1370 and Reachout Radio both turn 20. WXXI opens it doors to the community for a day-long open house, celebrating the completion of the 21/21 Vision Campaign.
Canandaigua Lake. WXXI is awarded a $10,000 Grant from the National Center for Outreach to integrate PBS KIDS Go! Web content into outreach programs. Reachout Radio renovations are completed. George Wolfe, host of Homework Hotline for the last 15 years, bids farewell to start a magnet school in Virginia. The University of Rochester Medical School signs on as co-producers of WXXI’s national health series Second Opinion. PBS president Pat Mitchell visits WXXI, kicking off her National Dialogue Campaign. Enabled and AudioFile, two programs produced by WXXI’s 24-hour reading radio service, Reachout Radio, receives the 2005 Program of the Year Award from the International Association of Audio Information Services. WXXI’s Speaking of Women’s Health Conference sells out in 45 minutes.
WXXI receives a $75,000 grant from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting to launch digital radio. WXXI-TV produces Let’s Do Business and Great Homes:
WXXI kicks off its 40th anniversary celebration with a reunion party for more than 100 of its charter members and other longtime friends of the station; among the guests is Harold Hacker, WXXI’s Founding Father. In celebration of WXXI’s 40th anniversary, the station unveils a newly designed Web site. Backstage Pass premiers on Classical 91.5 FM as a local classical music project. Its goal to bring live performance back to the airwaves. WXXI receives a $165,000 grant from The New York State Music Fund that enables the station to expand Backstage Pass to include television programs. WXXI takes top honors at the annual PBS Development Conference, bringing home the “2006 Award for Excellence, Overall Development.” The national award recognized WXXI for being “an integral part of the Rochester community.” Simon Pontin and Mordecai Lipshutz, celebrate 30 years of hosting Classical FM 91.5/90.3. Homework Hotline receives the Award for Excellence for best program or series designed for children from the New York State Broadcasters Association (for the sixth time). WXXI’s Assignment: The World receives a Bronze Telly Award in the Education category at the national Telly Awards Competition. Paula Kerger becomes the new President of PBS. The two candidates for the New York State Attorney General race participate in a Voice of the Voter debate at WXXI’s studio. WXXI-TV and AM 1370 are Rochester’s only stations to carry the gubernatorial debate.
WXXI-TV receives a national award for its use of digital technology. Norm Silverstein travels to Washington, D.C. to receive the EDGE award during the Association of Public Television Stations' Capitol Hill Day. The station, in collaboration with the Rochester Fire Department, developed a system to use a portion of its digital signal for an encrypted emergency training and information network (ETIN). WXXI’s Backstage Pass with the RPO Marimba Band, garners a 2007 Radio Programming and Promotions Finalist Award for Best Music Special at the New York Festivals Awards Gala in Manhattan. WXXI Public Broadcasting unveils its digital radio service as WXXI-HD Radio brings classical music as well as two separate news channels to Rochester’s digital airwaves. WXXI- HD 91.5 is the only local station to offer three digital channels in the area. WXXI enhanced its DTV service to include PBS World, which replaced WXXI-Q (Cable 524/DT 21.2) featuring documentary, public affairs, and news programming; and added an additional programming stream from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. called ThinkBright to WXXI-Create (Cable 433/DT 21.3) featuring the same Create cooking, how-to and gardening programs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. features a block of kids programs and begins the primetime hour with ThinkBright’s thematic program nights.
Susan Rogers is promoted to of Executive Vice President and General Manager. WXXI celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Rochester Area Educational Television Association (RAETA) with new services (including WXXI’s first HD radio station). In January the station launched BizKid$, a national television series that teaches financial literacy to 8-13 year olds. WXXI produced a dozen Healthy Kids segments for Homework Hotline. The segments were also available on-demand through the Homework Hotline website. WNET New York picked up the live broadcast of Hotline for its kids’ channel, expanding the WXXI audience in the NYC area. WXXI began producing Second Opinion webisodes to expand the reach and interactivity of its national health series. It was a significant year for Arts and Culture, with WXXI being recognized for its new series OnStage, featuring local performers, and for WXXI productions from the Rochester International Jazz Festival. NPR’s national radio show From the Top comes to Rochester to record a show with five local musicians chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants across the country. WXXI and the New York Wine & Grape Foundation co-produce New York Wine & Table, a 13-part series travel and cooking show that features New York State winemakers, farmers and restaurateurs who produce some of the finest wines and foods in the world. WXXI hosts its first Taste of New York Auction Gala in celebration of the new series, and its annual auction. WXXI merges its radio, television and online news services to create the WXXI Center for Public Affairs. WXXI brings André Rieu to Rochester for a special concert at the Blue Cross Arena.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) selected WXXI Public Broadcasting as one of 12 agencies across the country to assist the FCC with its DTV consumer education program. WXXI’s national health care series, Second Opinion, brought home two Bronze Telly Awards in the health and fitness TV program category. After 33 years of hosting Classical music on WXXI-FM, Simon Pontin signed off for the last time. He was the longest-tenured morning radio host in Rochester. With Heart and Voice’s Richard Gladwell receives the Benemerenti Medal, one of the Vatican’s highest honors to the laity (March). WXXI launched of its new, just-for-kids Web site at WXXI.org/kids. Specifically targeted to one of the fastest growing users of the Internet – children six to 10 years of age. StoryCorps, a national initiative to document everyday history and the unique stories of Americans, arrives in Rochester to capture the stories of Rochesterians as part of the celebration of the City’s 175 Anniversary. StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project in partnership with NPR and the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress. WXXI Reachout Radio celebrates its 25th anniversary. WXXI launches its Go Public Capital Campaign privately (public phase to roll out in 2014).
WXXI’s national health care series, Second Opinion, brought home two Bronze Telly Awards in the health and fitness TV program category. WXXI received a My Source Education Innovation Award for its statewide call-in show, Homework Hotline, from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). WXXI was selected to lead a major journalism initiative in the Upstate New York region. The initiative, funded by CPB will support the operation of a Local Journalism Center, which will provide in-depth news reports on innovative technology and its role in rebuilding Upstate New York’s economy. Restoring a Masterpiece: The Renovation of the Eastman Theatre, WXXI’s film that captures the fascinating story of the Eastman Theatre and documents its recent restoration, premieres at the Eastman Theatre in April, and then on WXXI-TV in May. Philip Seymour Hoffman narrates the film. WXXI partners with Hobart and William Smith Colleges to help the college run its radio station, WEOS 89.7FM. WXXI, in partnership with WEOS launch a new public radio station in Ithaca, New York – WITH-FM 90.1. Peter DuBois, Director of Music and Organist at Third Presbyterian Church, is named host of With Heart and Voice. WXXI hosts an hour-long debate among the candidates running in the New York State Attorney General Democratic primary election. Helene Biandudi joins WXXI as local host of All Things Considered.
WXXI receives two New York Emmy Awards nominations for Restoring a Masterpiece: The Renovation of the Eastman Theatre, New York Wine and Table, and wins two New York Emmy Awards for Songs of Freedom. WXXI holds a Voice of Voter Mayoral Debate for candidates William Johnson, Thomas Richards, and Alex White. WXXI received the 2010-2011 Community Partner Volunteer of the Year Award from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Biz Kid$ receives two Daytime Emmy Award nominations. WXXI tapes its 100th episode of Second Opinion, its national healthcare series, and University of Rochester Medical Center’s Dr. Roger Oskvig receives the inaugural WXXI President’s Award for his work on the show as medical advisor. WXXI hosts a band call for OnStage, its television and radio music series that highlights talent in Upstate New York. WXXI Educational Outreach Center presents Williamson High School science teacher Brendan Noon with the PBS Teacher Innovation Award. WITH-FM 90.1 in Ithaca broadcasts live from The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance at Trumansburg Fairgrounds in Trumansburg, New York. WXXI brings Mr. Steve to Seneca Park Zoo. WXXI captures the making of the 2011 Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Big Shot, and shares stories from past years of this photography project in The RIT Big Shot: Painting with Light. Mona Seghatoleslami joins WXXI as afternoon host and producer on Classical 91.5. University of Rochester’s a cappella group, the YellowJackets perform on Homework Hotline. Innovation Trail brings its listening booth to BarCamp Rochester and TedXRochester. WXXI presents a sneak peek of newest documentary Frank Lloyd Wright's Boynton House: The Next Hundred Years WXXI News presents a weeklong series of positive news stories after a local ten-year-old girl sent a letter to the news department asking for a whole day of “happy news”. WXXI announces a long-term formal affiliation with Rochester's historic Little Theatre. The affiliation with the acclaimed, independent film house will help strengthen the missions of both organizations and better serve the community.
WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dialogue on Disability initiative. Season three of OnStage premieres with an hour-long special featuring Rochester’s Lou Gramm. Beth Adams is named local host of NPR’s Morning Edition on AM 1370 and WRUR FM 88.5 and Alex Crichton moves to afternoon host of NPR’s All Things Considered (Nov). WXXI News Hélène Biandudi becomes host of Need to Know Rochester (Nov). WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies received the “Serving New York 2012” award from the New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA) for Dialogue on Disability (Oct). WXXI News documents the work of Garth Fagan and Wynton Marsalis’s Lighthouse/Lightning Rod project (Sept). WXXI hosts its biennial Open House and 3,000+ attend (Sept). WXXI-TV’s production, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Boynton House: The Next Hundred Years premieres (Sept).Biz Kid$ wins a Parent Choice Award. Second Opinion, RIT Big Shot: Painting the Light, and Homework Hotline each win a Telly Award. WXXI President Norm Silverstein named to the board of DEI (The Development Exchange, Inc). Second Opinion hosts its first live Twitter event inviting people to watch the taping of three episodes online and engage with the producers.
Assignment: The World, a weekly news and current events show for young students, aired its final episode on May 23, 2013. It was the longest running instructional program in the country (54 years). Randy Gorbman joins WXXI as News Director. Bob Smith, host of 1370 Connection, steps down from the midday talk show due to health reasons (August). Elissa Orlando, VP of TV is promoted to Senior VP of TV and News; Marion French. Assistant Vice President is promoted to Vice President for Education; Laura Garrison, Assistant Vice President for Individual Giving is named Vice President for Development; Kathy Reed, Director of Major and Planned Giving is promoted to Assistant Vice President of Major and Planned Giving; and WXXI’s Director of Finance, George Walter, CPA, CMA, is named Chief Financial Officer (Sept). Biz Kid$ wins a national Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing". NPR’s Talk of the Nation retires from the airwa ves and AM 1370 replaces the daily broadcast with Here and Now (July). WXXI launches its first multi-media series, Paley on Park Avenue: New York City, following world-renowned sculptor Albert Paley as he creates 13 original pieces for installation on Park Avenue in New York City (May). WXXI-TV’s production, A Walk Through History in Mount Hope Cemetery, premieres (March). Reachout Radio receives the Program of the Year Award from the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) for an episode of ViewPoints (June).