Timeline: The History of Public Broadcasting in the U.S.

Public broadcasting in the U.S. has grown from local and regional roots at schools and universities into a nationally known source of news and entertainment for millions of listeners and viewers. Our timeline of public broadcasting’s history traces its growth from the earliest radio broadcasts to its days as the home of Big Bird, Frontline and Terry Gross. We hit the landmark events, like the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act, and include lesser-known milestones as well — like the airplane circling over Indiana that broadcast educational TV shows to six states. Dive in and discover how public media became what it is today.

This is a revised and updated version of the timeline that appeared in our book A History of Public Broadcasting, published in 2000. Look for a new version of the book coming in 2020.

Entries by Karen Everhart, Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens

  • 1862
       

    With the Morrill Act, Congress endows state universities with land grants, creating what some observers believe was a philosophical precedent for public broadcasting and its public funding.

  • 1895
       

    Guglielmo Marconi sends a wireless signal from his family estate in Italy.

  • 1912
       

    Iowa State College’s station 9YI (named WOI since 1922) experiments with broadcasting in Morse code.

  • 1917
       

    The University of Wisconsin begins voice broadcasting with radio station 9XM, forerunner of WHA, under an experimental license.

  • 1921
       

    The federal government issues the first license to an educational institution, Latter-day Saints University in Salt Lake City.

  • Nov.
      12, 1925

    A forerunner of PBS and NPR is formed: the Association of College and University Broadcasting Stations (ACUBS). It later becomes the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.

  • 1930
       

    The Carnegie Corporation of New York, with NBC, creates the National Advisory Council on Radio in Education (NACRE) to promote a “Cooperation Doctrine” — alliances between commercial radio and educators.

  • July
      1930

    ACUBS asks Congress to reserve channels for education.

  • September
      1934

    ACUBS changes its constitution and renames itself the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.

  • Jan.
      26, 1938

    The FCC establishes a new class of noncommercial educational radio stations in the high-frequency band.

  • 1940
       

    The FCC reserves five of the 40 channels in the new high-frequency band for noncommercial educational stations. Though planned for AM, the stations go to FM as technology develops.

  • June
      27, 1945

    The FCC moves FM service to the VHF band and expands noncommercial FM reservation to 20 channels (88-92 MHz) of the total 100 FM channels.

  • 1949
       

    WNYC begins a “bicycle network,” shipping taped radio programs from station to station.

  • April
      15, 1949

    Pacifica begins operation of KPFA in Berkeley, claimed to be the first listener-supported station.

  • April
      14, 1952

    The FCC allocates local TV channels and reserves 242 for noncommercial educational TV.

  • October
      1952

    The Ford Foundation funds the Educational Television and Radio Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., to distribute programs.

  • May
      25, 1953

    The University of Houston signs on the first noncommercial educational TV station, KUHT.

  • 1955
       

    KQED in San Francisco pioneers the public TV fundraising auction.

  • Sept.
      2, 1958

    Congress passes the National Defense Education Act, which aids numerous instructional TV projects.

  • Jan.
      24, 1959

    Under new president John White, Educational Television and Radio Center adds “National” to its name. It later moves to New York City and becomes National Educational Television, NET.

  • Sept.
      12, 1960

    Taped live with an early videotape machine recently installed at Denver’s KRMA, The Ragtime Era premieres. It becomes NET’s most popular show, adding fun to educational TV’s arts programming and making Max Morath a star.

  • December
      1960

    Eastern Educational Television Network (EEN) incorporates after a 1959 demonstration of a hookup between Boston and Durham, N.H. Founded by WGBH President Hartford Gunn to boost the supply of programs available to stations in the Northeast, it was the first regional public TV network. Julia Child’s The French Chef, produced at WGBH, later becomes one of EEN’s most successful programs. EEN later grows into the national distributor now known as American Public Television.

  • 1961
       

    The Midwest Program for Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) experimentally broadcasts instructional television programs to six states from an airliner circling above Indiana.

  • 1961
       

    The Educational Radio Network achieves regional interconnection to distribute Kaleidoscope, a daily newsmagazine that originates in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

  • Oct.
      20, 1961
    BBC drama, Shakespeare's Edward IV

    Educational TV stations begin airing the BBC’s An Age of Kings, a 15-part combination of Shakespeare’s history plays that becomes one of public TV’s earliest hits.

  • May
      1, 1962

    President Kennedy signs the Educational Television Facilities Act, bringing the first major federal aid to public broadcasting. The act was a predecessor of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

  • July
      10, 1962

    The All-Channel Receiver Act is signed into law, aiding reception of UHF stations, including many educational stations.

  • Sept.
      9, 1962

    New York City finally gets a public TV station, as WNDT, later WNET, signs on.

  • Dec.
      12, 1962

    KRAB-FM, the first of community-radio pioneer Lorenzo Milam’s “Krab Nebula” of stations, signs on in Seattle.

  • Jan.
      25, 1963
    Child wields a meat cleaver with gusto.

    WGBH begins airing Julia Child’s first French Chef series, later distributed nationally.

  • June
      10, 1963

    The FCC authorizes the first statewide educational TV translator network, in Utah.

  • July
      25, 1963

    The FCC allows Instructional Television Fixed Service microwave transmissions for education. Public TV stations were among the educational institutions awarded licenses for the channels, which delivered ITV programs to receivers in public and private schools, colleges and universities.

  • Dec.
      7–8, 1964

    NAEB’s First Conference on Long-Range Financing proposes a presidential commission on future funding. The idea for a study of educational TV’s financial needs is suggested, which later becomes the Carnegie Commission.

  • Nov.
      10, 1965

    The Carnegie Corporation of New York establishes the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television (Carnegie I).

  • Aug.
      1, 1966

    The Ford Foundation proposes to the FCC that profits from a nonprofit communications satellite system for all broadcasters would go to public broadcasting. The proposed “Bundy Bird,” named after Ford Foundation President McGeorge Bundy, was quashed at the FCC by “bureaucratic torpor” induced by opposition from “all the giant communications companies,” James Day writes in The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television. But media coverage of the “Bundy Bird” called attention to educational TV’s funding needs. The proposal also helped make the case for an interconnection system to transmit programs to stations.

  • Nov.
      21, 1966

    Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuts on Pittsburgh’s WQED. It premieres nationally on NET Feb. 19, 1968.

  • Jan.
      26, 1967

    Carnegie I releases a report proposing federal aid and an extension of educational TV called “public television.”

  • Feb.
      23, 1967

    WETA premieres Washington Week in Review. It goes national on PBS in 1969.

  • April
      1967

    An NAEB report, The Hidden Medium, promotes aid to educational radio as well. Though the Carnegie report and original legislation would have aided only TV, the final Senate bill creating CPB also includes radio, thanks to a concerted campaign by Jerold Sandler and other radio advocates.

  • Nov.
      5, 1967

    The Ford Foundation launches Public Broadcast Laboratory, a live Sunday-night magazine program. (CBS starts 60 Minutes a year later.)

  • Nov.
      7, 1967
    LBJ signs bill creating CPB, 1967

    President Johnson signs the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, authorizing federal operating aid to stations through a new agency, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB funding decisions would be made year to year; Congress wouldn’t consider endowing a long-term funding source.

  • March
      27, 1968

    CPB incorporates. Its first president, John W. Macy, signs on in January 1969.

  • September
      1968

    Newsroom, a daily local news program that KQED in San Francisco launched as Newspaper of the Air during a newspaper strike, returns with funding from the Ford Foundation. Staffed by a team of print-trained reporters and anchor Mel Wax, the show pioneered the roundtable format of journalists discussing news of the day. Newsroom won duPont-Columbia and Peabody Awards during its nine-year run, but KQED couldn’t sustain it when Ford’s grant ended.

  • 1969
       

    NET begins regular interconnection for educational TV; the BBC drama The Forsyte Saga is a hit.

  • 1969
       

    CPB begins general support grants to stations, later called Community Service Grants.

  • May
      1, 1969

    Fred Rogers makes a successful appeal for CPB’s first appropriation with a moving plea to Sen. John Pastore (D-R.I), who says afterwards, “Looks like you just earned $20 million.” Hartford Gunn accompanies Rogers at the witness table.

  • Nov.
      3, 1969

    The Public Broadcasting Service is incorporated.

  • Nov.
      10, 1969

    Sesame Street debuts. The show’s creator, Children’s Television Workshop, developed Sesame with new levels of collaboration among writers, producers and researchers, and extensive testing on young viewers to determine how effectively the program achieved its educational goals. An instant success, Sesame Street goes on to win two Peabody Awards, dozens of Emmys and many other honors.

  • February
      1970

    The PBS Board chooses Hartford Gunn as the network’s first president.

  • Feb.
      26, 1970

    NPR incorporates. Don Quayle is to become its first president.

  • November
      1970

    NET and WNDT merge, creating WNET.

  • Nov.
      9, 1970

    PBS carries NET’s Banks and the Poor by Morton Silverstein, generating controversy.

  • Nov.
      20, 1970
  • January
      1971

    WGBH’s Masterpiece Theatre debuts with “The First Churchills,” a BBC drama about the 17th-century forebears of Winston Churchill.

  • Jan.
      6, 1971

    WNET debuts The Great American Dream Machine, a groundbreaking variety TV show featuring contributions from Kurt Vonnegut, Albert Brooks, Studs Terkel and others.

  • April
      20, 1971

    NPR begins service with a live broadcast of Senate hearings on ending the Vietnam War.

  • May
      3, 1971

    NPR launches All Things Considered with a 24-minute sound portrait of protests against the Vietnam War that took place that day in Washington, D.C. Robert Conley hosts the program. In 2017, the broadcast was inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

  • July
      1971

    CPB announces the creation of the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) as a headquarters for public affairs programs covering the nation’s capital. Sander Vanocur, an experienced NBC journalist, is hired to co-anchor programs with Robert MacNeil, a Canadian broadcast journalist and international correspondent. In his book The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television, James Day writes that the hiring of Vanocur and MacNeil enraged President Nixon, who was nursing a grudge over Vanocur’s aggressive questioning during his 1960 presidential campaign.

  • Oct.
      21, 1971

    Nixon aide Clay Whitehead challenges public TV in a speech at an NAEB meeting. Criticizing local broadcasters for betraying the vision of the Carnegie Commission, he assails decisions to create PBS and NPACT as moves to centralize program decisions and turn over control of public-affairs programming to the Ford Foundation.

  • June
      30, 1972

    President Nixon vetoes a two-year CPB authorizing law; a reduced one-year bill is enacted later. John Macy resigns as CPB president over the board’s refusal to protest the veto. Macy is succeeded by Henry Loomis. Frank Pace, CPB’s first chairman, also quits, succeeded by Tom Curtis.

  • October
      1972

    To shield program funding decisions from political interference following Nixon’s veto of CPB’s authorization, PBS President Hartford Gunn proposes the Station Program Cooperative, a marketplace for stations to choose which national programs they would support. PBS manages the SPC until 1989.

  • Nov.
      4, 1972

    PBS airs WNET’s first Great Performances with a production of The Rimers of Eldritch, a Lanford Wilson play featuring the up-and-coming actress Susan Sarandon.

  • Jan.
      11, 1973

    WNET airs verité documentary series An American Family.

  • May
      15, 1973

    Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer team up on NPACT’s coverage of Senate Watergate hearings.

  • May
      24, 1973

    Public radio stations form the Association of Public Radio Stations to lobby for their interests.

  • May
      31, 1973

    CPB and PBS resolve a dispute over interconnection and program decision-making with the Partnership Agreement, which allows PBS to manage program feeds and requires CPB to consult with PBS on programs it proposes to fund.

  • September
      1973

    With Texas businessman Ralph Rogers as chair, PBS reorganizes its governance by adding a board of lay leaders — prominent citizens usually involved with their local stations — to balance the oversight of a station manager board. The change solidifies PBS leadership as it cuts parental ties with CPB.

  • July
      6, 1974

    A Prairie Home Companion debuts at the Janet Wallace Auditorium at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Hosted by Garrison Keillor, the show charges $1 admission, 50 cents for kids. “There were about 12 people in the audience,” according to the show’s website.

  • Sept.
      22, 1974

    KERA in Dallas begins airing a discontinued British comedy series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. WNET soon follows, and in October 10 additional stations license the offbeat show from distributor EEN.

  • Oct.
      5, 1974

    NPR expands All Things Considered to the weekend with Mike Waters as host.

  • April
      1975

    PBS launches the first national pledge drive, Festival 75.

  • Sept.
      2, 1975

    Terry Gross becomes host of Fresh Air, a talk show airing on WHYY-FM in Philadelphia.

  • Sept.
      15, 1975

    The National Federation of Community Broadcasters incorporates.

  • Oct.
      20, 1975

    WNET starts The Robert MacNeil Report, in 1976 renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report.

  • Dec.
      31, 1975

    President Ford signs a five-year funding act anticipating a new feature: advance appropriations. In 1976, Congress follows up with appropriations through fiscal 1979.

  • Feb.
      20, 1976

    The Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium is formed to support Native programming for public broadcasting, making it the first of the system’s five minority consortia to incorporate. In 1995 it changes its name to Native American Public Telecommunications; in 2013, it becomes Vision Maker Media.

  • May
      4, 1977

    NPR takes on public radio’s lobbying functions, merging with APRS.

  • Aug.
      1, 1977

    Frank Mankiewicz begins work as NPR president. The son of Herman Mankiewicz, a co-author of the screenplay for Citizen Kane, Frank Mankiewicz had worked for the Peace Corps under President Kennedy’s Administration and for Sen. Robert Kennedy. He also helped run George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign and wrote two books about Watergate before joining NPR.

  • March
      1, 1978

    Public TV’s satellite interconnection begins operation.

  • July
      3, 1978

    The Supreme Court upholds an FCC indecency ruling against an afternoon broadcast of George Carlin’s “filthy words” routine on Pacifica’s WBAI in 1973.

  • January
      1979

    In a reorganization that further separates PBS’ role in national programming from stations’ interests in federal policy in Washington, public TV splits lobbying functions from PBS to create the National Association of Public Television Stations, later renamed America’s Public Television Stations. David Carley is its first president.

  • Jan.
      30, 1979

    The Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting releases a report calling for a fundamental restructuring of what it sees as a flawed system. It proposes a Public Telecommunications Trust to supplant CPB and a semi-autonomous Program Services Endowment to invest in programming. The Commission also calls for more federal funding to public broadcasting from general tax revenues and a spectrum fee levied on all users of the public airwaves. Neither Congress nor the Carter administration picks up on the recommendations.

  • Aug.
      23, 1979

    In response to the Carnegie report, CPB President Robben Fleming proposes to create an insulated program fund within the corporation to be headed by a director who will make final decisions about the programs CPB supports. The board approves, and the plan for the CPB Television Program Fund takes effect in January 1980.

  • Nov.
      5, 1979

    NPR launches Morning Edition with Bob Edwards and Barbara Hoctor as co-hostsEdwards becomes the sole host in April 1980.

  • March
      1980

    Closed captioning, developed by PBS, premieres on three networks, including PBS (Masterpiece Theatre).

  • March
      1980

    NAEB launches a trade newspaper, Current. [Read a timeline of Current’s history.]

  • May
      3, 1980

    Minnesota Public Radio begins national feeds of A Prairie Home Companion.

  • May
      12, 1980

    “Death of a Princess” airs nationally on PBS. The docudrama about a 19-year-old Saudi princess executed for adultery in 1977 is broadcast as part of World, a WGBH-produced documentary series that was the forerunner to Frontline. In the weeks leading up to its U.S. premiere, the Saudi government pressured PBS through the U.S. State Department and Congress to drop the film. Mobil Oil, a major corporate underwriter of Masterpiece Theater on PBS and a partner in the Arab-American oil venture Aramco, criticized the film in newspaper ads. Some stations — including KUHT in Houston, Alabama Public Television and South Carolina ETV — choose not to air it.

  • June
      20, 1980

    NPR completes the first national satellite network for radio.

  • July
      25–27, 1980

    Asian-American activists from around the country gather in Berkeley, Calif., to discuss creating an organization to bring their community’s voices to public media. A steering committee is formed on the last day of the conference that becomes the board of the National Asian American Telecommunications Association, founded later in the year. NAATA changes its name to the Center for Asian American Media in 2005.

  • Sept.
      28, 1980

    Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, a groundbreaking science series from KCET, debuts.

  • March
      1981

    President Reagan seeks a cut of $88 million to CPB funding and achieves a $35 million cut in fiscal year 1983.

  • Nov.
      3, 1981

    The membership of NAEB votes to dissolve the bankrupt association.

  • Oct.
      10, 1982

    WNET lets Nature loose on PBS.

  • Nov.
      4, 1982

    A station consortium raises the curtain on American Playhouse.

  • Jan.
      17, 1983

    WGBH and a consortium of public TV stations launch Frontline.

  • Feb.
      23, 1983
  • Feb.
      26, 1983

    Thomas C. Warnock, executive VP of NPR, reports to President Frank Mankiewicz that the network faces a potential deficit of $3.3 million due to overspending and a failure to achieve revenue goals. In following weeks, the estimate is revised to $5.8 million.

  • April
      15, 1983

    American Public Radio incorporates. It changes its name to Public Radio International in 1994.

  • April
      19, 1983

    NPR President Frank Mankiewicz steps down from his management role as word spreads about the financial crisis at the network [GAO summary, 1984]; he resigns May 10. An interim management team takes steps to bring operations under control, with Ron Bornstein filling in as CEO. The network lays off 84 employees, cuts newscasts and drops Sunday Show, a weekly program of arts and music.

  • Aug.
      2, 1983

    CPB agrees to loan NPR $7 million to aid its recovery from the budget crisis.

  • Sept.
      5, 1983

    The first hourlong nightly news program debuts: MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

  • Oct.
      4, 1983

    Vietnam: A Television History, a 13-part documentary series produced by WGBH, debuts on PBS. Nearly 9 percent of all TV households tuned into the premiere episode, and an average of 9.7 million Americans watched all programs in the series, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

  • January
      1984

    The Christian Science Monitor launches Monitor Radio, beginning with a weekend broadcast. It is later expanded to a daily afternoon program in 1985 and an early-morning show in 1989.

  • March
      1984

    The FCC loosens sponsorship rules to allow “enhanced underwriting.” The revised regulations follow up on recommendations from the commission’s Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing, authorized by the Public Broadcasting Amendments Act of 1981. Under the new rules, sponsorship announcements can include logos and slogans that identify but do not promote or compare locations, value-neutral descriptions of a product line or service, trade names, and product or service listings. But the regulations uphold prohibitions on interrupting programs for underwriting spots or fundraising activities “on behalf of any entity other than itself.”

  • July
      3, 1984

    The Supreme Court overturns a law prohibiting editorials on CPB-assisted stations, acting in a case brought by Pacifica and others.

  • August
      1984

    Chicago’s WTTW becomes the first station to air TV stereo sound full-time.

  • Nov.
      28-30, 1984

    In a meeting at the Wingspread conference center in Racine, Wis., a group of lay trustees and professional station managers develop a statement of editorial integrity for independence from state governments. The boards of PBS and the National Association of Public Television Stations later endorses the statement.

  • 1985
       

    CPB begins aid to the Public Television Outreach Alliance, a station-led effort to create programs and outreach materials that deal with “pressing social issues of interest to many or all segments of American society,” according to CPB’s annual report. Kentucky Educational Television led the alliance with KCTS in Seattle, WQED in Pittsburgh, Nebraska’s NET and WETA in Washington, D.C. In 1986, the alliance mounted “Generation at Risk,” a follow-up campaign to The Chemical People, a 1983 limited series about drug and alcohol abuse.

  • May
      22, 1985

    Public radio stations approve an NPR business plan: They receive the funds that CPB previously sent directly to NPR.

  • June
      1985

    A CPB-funded study led by researcher David Giovannoni reveals that almost 90 percent of public radio listeners don’t contribute direct financial support to stations. The study, nicknamed “Cheap 90,” found that listeners’ perceptions of the importance of public radio in their lives was key to differentiating those who donated from those who didn’t. Current begins publishing “Radio Intelligence,” Giovannoni’s regular column on audience research, in January 1987.

  • June
      30, 1985

    Public broadcasting revenues pass $1 billion by the end of fiscal year 1985, according to CPB.

  • Nov.
      2, 1985

    NPR debuts Weekend Edition on Saturdays with host Scott Simon.

  • May
      16, 1986

    CPB establishes the Radio Program Fund, designed to provide large grants to radio shows with national potential. Fresh Air, a WHYY show hosted by Terry Gross, is among its first beneficiaries. The fund provided $875,000 to support its national launch.

  • July
      15, 1986

    WGBH introduces a Descriptive Video Service for vision-impaired viewers.

  • September
      1986

    Susan Stamberg, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered since 1971, leaves the show.

  • Sept.
      30, 1986

    NPR makes its final payment on its $7 million debt.

  • Jan.
      13, 1987

    Bill Moyers, who departed public TV in 1981 to join CBS News, announces his return to PBS by unveiling a $10 million slate of nonfiction programs.

  • Jan.
      18, 1987

    NPR launches Weekend Edition Sunday with Susan Stamberg as host. The broadcast also marks the debut of auto mechanics Tom and Ray Magliozzi on public radio’s national airwaves. Car Talk makes its national debut Oct. 3.

  • Jan.
      21, 1987

    Henry Hampton’s Eyes on the Prize, a landmark six-part documentary series about the U.S. civil-rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s, premieres on PBS. Producers at Hampton’s Blackside Inc., were already working on a second package of documentaries, Eyes on the Prize: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985, which premiered in 1990.

  • June
      13, 1987

    Garrison Keillor hosts his last Prairie Home Companion before a temporary departure from public radio.

  • Oct.
      11, 1988

    WGBH launches The American Experience.

  • November
      1988

    Latino Public Broadcasting, one of public broadcasting’s minority consortia, is formed. Its co-founders are actor and director Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer, co-founder and executive director of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

  • December
      1988

    CPB publishes the final installment of Audience 88, a landmark study that provides a detailed portrait of public radio listenership and introduces a research-based vocabulary for making decisions about what programs to air. Directed by consultant David Giovannoni, the research’s message that “programming causes audience” aids public radio in significantly growing listenership and donor support in coming years. Giovannoni shares CPB’s 1994 Edward R. Murrow Award with Tom Church, founder of the Radio Research Consortium, in recognition of their work. Audience 98, a follow-up study examining the attitudes that motivate listeners to give, is completed in 1999.

  • January
      1989

    Pacific Public Radio (KLON) and American Public Radio launch Marketplace, a West Coast–based look at business and economic news. Michael Creedman is host. KUSC becomes co-producer more than a year later, replacing Pacific.

  • September
      1989

    Garrison Keillor returns to public radio with American Radio Company of the Air.

  • Sept.
      22, 1989

    The Independent Television Service, a program service to aid independent producers, is incorporated. In 1988, Congress passed legislation requiring CPB to establish an independent program service “to expand the diversity and innovativeness of programming available to public broadcasting.” ITVS begins operation in June 1991.

  • October
      1989

    In a restructuring of public TV’s funding and decision-making about national programs, PBS names Jennifer Lawson as its first chief programming executive. CPB adds $23 million to her budget. With her appointment, PBS implements its 1988 plan to end the Station Program Cooperative, created in PBS’s early years to let stations decide which national programs to fund. Lawson pledges to refresh PBS’ National Program Service, focusing first on children’s programming.

  • Feb.
      16, 1990

    PBS launches PBS Home Video.

  • July
      1990

    Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti appear in the first of a series of hit “Three Tenors” concerts, syndicated to public TV stations by EEN.

  • Sept.
      23-27, 1990

    Ken Burns’ The Civil War breaks PBS audience records.

  • July
      1991

    “Tongues Untied,” a POV documentary about black gay identity, wins applause and alarms stations with its explicit language and sexual imagery. Don Wildmon of the conservative religious American Family Association criticizes the use of public funds to produce the film.

  • October
      1991

    Pacific Islanders in Communications is founded in Honolulu. The nonprofit organization works to “support, advance and develop Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture and contemporary challenges.”

  • 1992
       

    Congress requires digital broadcast satellite operators to set aside capacity for noncom educational use.

  • January
      1992

    EEN Interregional Program Service adopts the new name American Program Service. In 1999, APS will become American Public Television.

  • Aug.
      26, 1992

    President Bush signs a CPB reauthorization act with a Senate amendment requiring CPB to monitor “objectivity and balance” in programming.

  • October
      1992

    Congress authorizes the Ready to Learn Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), supporting production and distribution of educational programs for preschool and elementary-school children. The Department of Education, which oversees the grant program, is authorized to contract with public broadcasters to create a “Ready to Learn channel” on the public TV satellite.

  • Jan.
      26, 1993

    The CPB Board approves President Richard Carlson’s plan to monitor balance and objectivity in programming, a mandate of CPB’s 1992 reauthorization.

  • Sept.
      16, 1993

    California-based Radio Bilingüe starts a Satélite radio service for Latino public radio stations.

  • January
      1994

    NPR moves into its new headquarters at 635 Massachusetts Avenue.

  • July
      1, 1994

    APR becomes Public Radio International.

  • July
      11, 1994

    PBS launches a pilot of its Ready to Learn Service for preschoolers.

  • Oct.
      31, 1994

    The American Indian Radio on Satellite (AIROS) network begins operations, serving stations on reservations.

  • Nov.
      13, 1994

    After Republicans win a majority in the House, new Speaker Newt Gingrich says he wants to “privatize” cultural institutions — including CPB, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

  • Dec.
      6, 1994

    Newt Gingrich announces that he plans to zero out CPB funding.

  • May
      15, 1995

    A House and Senate conference committee agree on a budget-cutting bill that reduces CPB’s advance-funded appropriations for fiscal years 1996 and 1997 to $275 million and $260 million, respectively. The rescissions trim 12 percent and 17 percent from amounts Congress had appropriated previously under the normal two-year forward funding process. CPB funding for 1998, to be set in the annual appropriations process, is yet to be determined.

  • Aug.
      3, 1995

    The House votes against an amendment by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) to zero out CPB’s fiscal 1998 appropriation of $240 million. After the Senate concludes its appropriations process, the appropriation is set at $250 million.

  • September
      1995

    PBS launches its website, PBS Online.

  • September
      1995

    The Markle Foundation backs a proposal by former PBS President Lawrence Grossman for two nights of ad-supported weekend programming on public TV. The idea goes public in June 1997 but falters.

  • Nov.
      17, 1995

    Your Radio Playhouse, a forerunner of This American Life, debuts on WBEZ in Chicago. The name changes to TAL in April 1996. Public Radio International begins national distribution of TAL in July 1997, with the show already airing on more than 100 stations.

  • Jan.
      2, 1996

    The CPB Board adds radio station audience and fundraising criteria for grant eligibility, effective October 1998.

  • Feb.
      28, 1996

    Rep. Jack Fields introduces a trust-fund bill, but it doesn’t advance.

  • August
      1996

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholds the set-aside of digital broadcast satellite capacity for noncommercial programming.

  • April
      1997

    A group of public TV stations pledges not to air 30-second spots; others already have them on the air.

  • April
      3, 1997

    The FCC sets a 2003 deadline for public TV stations to begin DTV simulcasting.

  • June
      27, 1997

    The Christian Science Monitor closes its radio broadcasting arm, ending the 13-year run of Monitor Radio news programs.

  • June
      30, 1997

    Public broadcasting’s total revenues pass $2 billion by the end of fiscal year 1997.

  • October
      1997

    The presidents of NPR and Public Radio International propose a merger; their boards say no.

  • March
      1998

    Minnesota Public Radio expands its endowment by selling its mail-order subsidiary Rivertown Trading for $120 million.

  • April
      1998
  • May
      18, 1998

    In Forbes v. Arkansas ETV, the Supreme Court rules that Arkansas’ state public broadcasting network has journalistic discretion to exclude a minor candidate in on-air debate, overturning an Eighth Circuit decision of August 1996.

  • Nov.
      9–11, 1998

    Seven public TV stations are among the first DTV broadcasters; PBS premieres Chihuly Over Venicethe first national broadcast of a program produced and edited in HDTV. The stations air a first test broadcast of “enhanced” (interactive) DTV, adapting Ken Burns’ Frank Lloyd Wright.

  • December
      1998

    The Gore Commission, formed to study the public-interest obligations of digital television broadcasters, recommends an additional digital TV station in every market for noncommercial educational purposes. It also backs a trust fund for public broadcasting. The White House, Congress and the FCC take no action.

  • Feb.
      1, 1999

    Former PBS Home Video distributor and Monkee Michael Nesmith wins a $47 million civil judgment against the network. (In July, PBS settles with Nesmith for an undisclosed amount.)

  • July
      1999

    House leaders erupt as Washington hears about mailing-list deals between WGBH and the Democratic National Committee. CPB releases new rules regarding mailing lists July 30.

  • Sept.
      6, 1999

    PBS begins transmitting a PBS Kids service for DBS and DTV multicasting.

  • Jan.
      20, 2000

    FCC establishes a new class of noncommercial low-power FM licenses reserved for nonprofit organizations.

  • February
      2000

    NPR’s first ombudsman begins work: Jeffrey Dvorkin, the network’s former VP for news and information.

  • Feb.
      4, 2000

    PBS hires Pat Mitchell, a CNN documentaries executive, as its first woman president. She is also the first producer to hold the job.

  • April
      12, 2000

    Minnesota Public Radio expands into California — buying Marketplace Productions in Los Angeles — soon after taking on management of KPCC-FM in Pasadena.

  • Oct.
      25, 2000

    Six years after the collapse of American PlayhouseU.S. drama returns to PBS with occasional programs on Masterpiece Theatre, with other new dramatic series planned.

  • December
      2000

    NPR and other broadcasters lead a successful campaign to limit interference by restricting the number of LPFM stations that can be licensed.

  • March
      15, 2001

    PBS lays off 60 employees, the first in a series of workforce reductions that will shrink its staff by more than a quarter — from 623 to 456 — from fiscal year 2001 to FY2007.

  • October
      2001

    The FCC rules that public TV stations can use a minority of their digital transmission capacity for revenue-producing services.

  • 2002
       

    Channel proliferation shaves viewers from public TV’s average weekly cumulative audience. For the 2001-02 season, its full-day cume slips below 50 percent after hovering between 50 and 60 percent for many years.

  • Jan.
      7, 2002

    NPR launches The Tavis Smiley Show, a weekday morning show developed for public radio stations with large African-American audiences. Smiley quits two years later in a dispute with NPR and later returns to public radio with a weekly show for Public Radio International.

  • Jan.
      18, 2002

    The weekly PBS news program Now, created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, debuts with Bill Moyers hosting.

  • Feb.
      21, 2002

    A central figure in public radio’s rise, 19-year CPB official Rick Madden, dies at age 56. The public radio system had honored him with CPB’s Murrow award in 2001.

  • Nov.
      2, 2002

    NPR opens a West Coast production facility in Culver City, Calif. It becomes home for the new show Day to Day in 2003 and a co-host of Morning Edition in 2004.

  • Nov.
      8. 2002
  • Dec.
      13, 2002

    PBS’s biggest underwriter, ExxonMobil, announces it will stop funding Masterpiece Theatre in spring 2004.

  • Jan.
      31, 2003

    In the largest efficiency-driven combination yet fostered by CPB, the New York City area’s WNET and WLIW merge.

  • Feb.
      1, 2003

    Relenting under pressure from the recession, the PBS Board lets the network’s biggest underwriters buy 30-second spots.

  • February
      2003

    After consultants McKinsey and Co. deliver a study of public TV’s future, CPB says it will focus on projects to improve stations’ major-gift fundraising programs. A major-giving training initiative for public TV stations launches in 2004, and CPB backs a similar effort for public radio stations in 2007.

  • Feb.
      27, 2003
  • May
      1, 2003

    More than half of public TV stations miss the FCC’s deadline for putting digital signals on air; the commission promises waivers.

  • May
      30, 2003

    The Public Radio Exchange (now PRX), a market for independent radio productions first proposed by independent producer Jay Allison in 2001, begins operations under the auspices of the Station Resource Group.

  • September
      2003

    Software developer Dave Winer expands RSS web syndication technology to enable attachment of audio files. The first use of this new version of RSS is to distribute interviews recorded by Christopher Lydon, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a former host on Boston’s WBUR. Winer’s innovation paves the way for podcasting. Lydon later returns to radio with Open Source, a show building on his experiments merging radio and the internet.

  • Sept.
      15, 2003

    A California judge approves new Pacifica Foundation bylaws that adopt a democratic governance system.

  • October
      2003

    StoryCorps, developed by independent public radio producer David Isay, installs its first recording booth for what becomes a growing, nationwide oral-history project.

  • Nov.
      6, 2003

    NPR announces that McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc, who died Oct. 12, had left the network more than $200 million.

  • Feb.
      5, 2004

    The first PBS-commissioned Roper poll finds that the public ranks PBS among the most trustworthy national institutions and believes that it delivers “excellent value” for their tax dollars.

  • March
      23, 2004

    NPR removes Bob Edwards as Morning Edition anchor, provoking listener outcry. Edwards takes a job at XM Satellite Radio in July.

  • May
      21, 2004

    The General Accounting Office advises Congress that CPB did not have the congressional authority to spend funds from its TV Future Fund, a pool of R&D money. Anticipating the ruling, CPB had already discontinued the TV fund in January. It later ended a comparable Radio Future Fund.

  • July
      2004

    Minnesota Public Radio splits with its offspring, Public Radio International, to distribute its national programming under the name American Public Media.

  • Aug.
      12, 2004
  • Oct.
      20, 2004

    PBS announces a pact with Comcast, Sesame Workshop and Hit Entertainment to create a new PBS Kids channel available only to digital cable subscribers.

  • Jan.
      25, 2005

    Margaret Spellings, the new U.S. Secretary of Education, writes to PBS with “very serious concerns” about an episode of the children’s show Postcards from Buster, an animated spinoff of Arthur. The episode in question featured its animated rabbit protagonist meeting a family with two mommies. PBS withdraws the episode, but stations covering half the country air it anyway.

  • Jan.
      30, 2005

    The Association of Public Television Stations and the cable industry announce that major cable operators have agreed to carry as many as four multicast program streams from each public TV station in a market. Stations ratify the agreement April 14.

  • April
      5, 2005

    CPB appoints two journalists as ombudsmen, one of a series of decisions made by Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, who had privately embarked on a campaign to bring more conservative voices to PBS public affairs programming.

  • April
      8, 2005

    CPB announces it will replace Kathleen Cox, who had clashed with Chairman Ken Tomlinson in her 10 months as president.

  • May
      2, 2005

    The New York Times breaks the story of CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson’s campaign to influence PBS program decisions.

  • June
      23, 2005

    The House of Representatives votes 2 to 1 to restore cuts in CPB aid approved by its Appropriations Committee. Later the same day, the CPB Board elects Patricia Harrison as president. Major public broadcasting groups opposed the appointment because Harrison had been co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

  • Nov.
      15, 2005

    PBS’s first ombudsman begins work: Michael Getler, a former Washington Post writer, editor and ombudsman.

  • Nov.
      15, 2005

    CPB’s Inspector General finds that CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson violated the Public Broadcasting Act and CPB guidelines, meddling in program decisions and injecting politics into hiring. Tomlinson had resigned days earlier after the CPB Board heard the inspector general’s preliminary report.

  • December
      2005

    Congress sets Feb. 17, 2009, as the shut-off date for analog TV. The act also sets Jan. 28, 2008, as the deadline for the FCC to auction TV spectrum freed by the transition but does not address public TV’s long-held cause to set aside auction proceeds for a trust fund.

  • January
      2006

    Create, a multicast channel featuring how-to and lifestyle programming, begins national distribution through APT with carriage on 174 public TV stations covering nearly 63 percent of the country. World, a multicast channel with a nonfiction public-affairs focus, goes national in August 2007.

  • Jan.
      22, 2006

    PBS hires WNET executive Paula Kerger to succeed Pat Mitchell as president.

  • March
      2006

    Robert Altman’s adaptation of A Prairie Home Companion, featuring Garrison Keillor and Hollywood stars Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline and Tommy Lee Jones, debuts in the U.S. during the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas.

  • May
      2006

    Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media begins piloting use of its Public Insight Journalism network in other newsrooms.

  • July
      2006

    In a pilot with Google Video and Open Media Network, PBS begins selling $1.99 downloads of its primetime and children’s shows, including Nova, Antiques Roadshow and Arthur.

  • January
      2007

    Iowa Public Radio, a statewide network created through the merger of three university-owned stations, launches its news/talk service on 10 stations. It introduces a statewide classical music service in September.

  • March
      2007

    Vme, a Spanish-language multicast channel, launches on public TV stations in 16 markets. The PBS-styled variety service mixes educational children’s programs and general-audience fare, including how-tos, movies, current affairs programs and a telenovela teaching financial literacy.

  • April
      2007

    Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus object to PBS’s response to complaints about the omission of Hispanic and Native American veterans in Ken Burns’ documentary series on World War II.

  • October
      2007

    The Public Radio Satellite System completes its years-long move to the digital ContentDepot distribution system. NPR had begun building the system in 2002.

  • 2008
       

    State-funded public broadcasters take deep cuts to their annual subsidies as state governments respond to the economic downturn. Among the hardest hit is Kentucky Educational Television, which lost $1.8 million in tax-based funding and reduced its staff by 18 percent.

  • July
      2008

    NPR acquires Public Interactive, which provided specialized web publishing systems and tools to 170 public broadcasting stations, from Public Radio International.

  • Nov.
      11, 2008

    NPR chooses Vivian Schiller, GM of NYTimes.com, as its next chief executive and first female president.

  • December
      2008

    Stations and national producers including NPR, APM and WGBH lay off employees and cancel programs in response to funding losses triggered by the recession. Public broadcasters in Pennsylvania and Maine cite reduced government funding, while others point to sharp declines in membership and underwriting. NPR cuts its workforce by 7 percent and cancels two shows, Day to Day and News & Notes.

  • February
      2009

    Congress postpones the date of shutting off analog TV signals.

  • April
      7, 2009

    NPR stages its first Tiny Desk Concert with Oregon folksinger Laura Gibson.

  • August
      2009

    Reading Rainbow, a children’s literacy series starring LeVar Burton and widely used in classrooms, ends its PBS run when broadcast rights expire.

  • October
      2009

    A report by The Knight Commission on the “Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy” calls for public broadcasting to do more to “move quickly toward a broader vision of public service media, one that is more local, more inclusive and more interactive.” The blue-ribbon panel also recommends a modest increase in public funding to support a more robust and public media system, along with policy changes for broadband access, media education and government transparency.

  • December
      2009

    Congress allocates $25 million in “fiscal stabilization” funding to public broadcasting in a federal budget that also commits to increase CPB’s annual appropriation over three years. CPB received $420 million in fiscal 2010, as well as funds to support digital conversion ($36 million), public radio interconnection ($25 million) and Ready to Learn ($27.3 million.)

  • April
      2010

    CPB invests $10.5 million to build newsgathering capacity at stations through Local Journalism Centers, news units that produce multimedia coverage. Organized as collaborations among multiple stations, the centers cover topics of special interest within their regions.

  • April
      30, 2010

    Bill Moyers delivers the last edition of Bill Moyers’ Journal, one of the anchors of PBS’s Friday-night public affairs block. His retirement doesn’t last long: In January 2012, Moyers returns with a weekly public affairs show, Moyers & Company.

  • October
      2010

    KCET notifies PBS that it will drop its membership Dec. 31, giving up its status as the flagship station in Los Angeles. KOCE in Huntington Beach, Calif., agrees to become the primary station for the region.

  • Oct.
      20, 2010

    NPR fires news analyst Juan Williams over his remarks during an appearance on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. He acknowledged feeling worried about being on an airplane with people wearing “Muslim garb,” a statement that NPR said violated its ethics standards. The firing sparks a partisan attack on public broadcasting fueled by O’Reilly and prominent Republicans. Ellen Weiss, the senior news VP who fired Williams, resigns in January after a law firm that investigated the dismissal reports to NPR’s board.

  • December
      2010

    A coalition of public media advocates unveils “170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting,” a campaign to defend public broadcasting from federal funding cuts. APTS and American Public Media co-sponsor and co-manage the campaign.

  • Jan.
      4, 2011

    President Obama signs the Local Community Radio Act. Approved in the last days of the 111th Congress, the law clears the way for expansion of low-power FM stations by giving the FCC more flexibility to assign channels and resolve interference problems with full-power FMs and their translators.

  • Jan.
      9, 2011

    Downton Abbey, a British drama chronicling the social turmoil that World War I triggered for Britain’s landed gentry, debuts on PBS’ Masterpiece. With storylines centered on Lord Grantham, his American wife and three daughters, the seven-episode serial also features downstairs dramas among servants who run the vast estate. The debut season won an Emmy. The show became a break-out hit for PBS with the debut of the second season in January 2012.

  • March
      8, 2011

    Conservative activist James O’Keefe releases a secretly recorded video of NPR Senior VP of Development Ron Schiller and a member of Schiller’s staff. The video shows Schiller meeting with two men working for O’Keefe, who posed as prospective NPR donors representing a Muslim organization. Recorded at a Washington, D.C., restaurant in February, it features Schiller describing Tea Party members as “racist, racist people” and discussing the “anti-intellectual mood” of the Republican Party. NPR fires Schiller, and NPR President Vivian Schiller (no relation) resigns the next day.

  • April
      8, 2011

    In negotiations over a continuing resolution to fund the government, Congress agrees to eliminate the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program. The $20 million Department of Commerce program, which had long been targeted for elimination before the Obama administration took up the cause of shutting it down, provided matching grants to support signal expansion, replacement of old equipment and digital conversion of public TV and radio stations.

  • June
      6, 2011

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announces the new operators of the stations that make up the state-owned New Jersey Network, which he is moving to dismantle. WNET in New York City secures a five-year management contract to operate NJN’s four full-power TV stations. New York’s WNYC acquires four radio frequencies; Philadelphia’s WHYY buys five FMs.

  • September
      2011

    CPB begins investing in joint master control operations for public TV stations with a $6.6 million grant funding startup of a centralcasting facility at WCNY in Syracuse, N.Y. A second facility at WJCT in Jacksonville, Fla., created with participation from seven stations in Florida and Georgia, receives $7 million in startup funding in March 2012.

  • Feb.
      19, 2012

    Viewership of the Season 2 finale of Downton Abbey scores a 3.5 average household rating. The show becomes the highest-rated PBS prime-time program since the September 2009 premiere of Ken Burns’s documentary series National Parks.

  • July
      26, 2012

    WGBH in Boston acquires Public Radio International, the Minneapolis-based distributor and co-producer of national news programs PRI’s The World, which originates from WGBH, and The Takeaway, headquartered at WNYC in New York City.

  • Aug.
      2, 2012

    CPB announces a two-year, $1.5 million grant to support Code Switch, a new six-person NPR team creating multimedia reporting about issues of race, ethnicity and culture.

  • Oct.
      1, 2012

    The declining health of Car Talk co-host Tom Magliozzi prompts producers of the show to stop taping new episodes. Car Talk ends production of original shows but continues distributing Best of Car Talk, a weekly compilation of archival material. Magliozzi dies in 2014 at the age of 77 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Oct.
      3, 2012

    In a televised presidential debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney reiterates his campaign pledge to eliminate federal funding for public broadcasting. Responding to a question about the federal debt, he tells debate moderator Jim Lehrer, executive editor of PBS NewsHour: “I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. … I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

  • Oct.
      16, 2012

    The boards of KCET in Los Angeles and Link TV, a San Francisco-based satellite channel that shares KCET’s focus on serving nontraditional public TV audiences, approve a merger to take place Jan. 1, 2013.

  • May
      8, 2013

    Roku unveils the first collection of PBS programs to be offered on a streaming video-on-demand platform. Viewers can choose from a limited number of prime-time series such as Antiques Roadshow, Nova and Masterpiece.

  • June
      28, 2013

    Talk of the Nation, a midday NPR talk show that launched in 1992, broadcasts its last episode. NPR replaces it with an expanded version of Here & Now, produced by WBUR in Boston.

  • Aug.
      6, 2013

    PBS Warning Alert and Response Network connects to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s alert system, providing backup for delivering emergency messages to mobile devices.

  • Sept.
      7, 2013

    PBS NewsHour Weekend, a 30-minute broadcast produced at WNET in New York City and hosted by Hari Sreenivasan, debuts. PBS backed the show to fill holes in its news lineup. Meanwhile, at PBS NewsHour, co-managing editors Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill become the first female co-anchor team on a network news broadcast.

  • Oct.
      8, 2013

    Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, co-founders and former anchors of PBS NewsHour, announce plans to transfer the weeknight program to presenting station and partner WETA in Washington, D.C. The station assumes ownership July 1, 2014.

  • November
      2013

    PBS sells its 15 percent equity share in Sprout, a kids’ cable network previously branded PBS Kids Sprout, to NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group.

  • Dec.
      2, 2013

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a ban on political and public-issue commercials on public TV stations. Minority Television Project, licensee of KMTP in San Mateo, Calif., is a key party in the case, stemming from fines imposed by the FCC in 2003. NPR and PBS had filed an amicus brief urging the court to uphold the ban.

  • July
      1, 2014
    Mohn

    Jarl Mohn, a philanthropist and investor who built his fortune in commercial television, signs on as NPR president. At the time of his appointment, he was board chair for KPCC in Pasadena, Calif.

  • July
      28, 2014

    NPR One, an app that uses an algorithm and user feedback to generate an audio stream of news content from NPR and stations, launches in Apple and Android app stores.

  • Aug.
      1, 2014

    NPR ends production of Tell Me More, a weekdaily program hosted by Michel Martin and focusing on news topics related to people of color. The show aired on 136 stations at the time of its cancellation.

  • Oct.
      3, 2014

    The podcast Serial debuts. A production of This American Life, the 12-episode series about the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high-school student reaches record numbers of downloads and renews interest in the medium of podcasting.

  • April
      23, 2015

    PBS unveils a plan to invest in promotion and social-media marketing of its independent film series POV and Independent Lens, resolving a months-long conflict over primetime scheduling of the programs. Filmmakers had pressed PBS to designate the series for common carriage.

  • Aug.
      13, 2015

    Sesame Workshop enters a five-year contract with HBO to produce and premiere new episodes of Sesame Street on the premium cable channel. After a nine-month window of exclusivity, PBS and its stations will broadcast episodes. The program deal also adopts a shorter, 30-minute format for Sesame Street that PBS introduced on a trial basis in fall 2014.

  • Dec.
      15, 2015

    PBS begins national rollout of Passport, its member video-on-demand service.

  • Oct.
      15, 2016

    Musician Chris Thile marks his debut as Garrison Keillor’s hand-picked successor to host of A Prairie Home Companion.

  • Nov.
      14, 2016

    Gwen Ifill, a political journalist who helmed two of PBS’s signature public-affairs series, dies of cancer at age 61. Ifill simultaneously served with Judy Woodruff as co-managing editor and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour and helmed Washington Week as managing editor and moderator. In 2004, early in her tenure on PBS, Ifill became the first black woman to moderate a vice-presidential debate.

  • December
      2016

    Diane Rehm hosts the last broadcast of her eponymous midday talk show, winding down a radio career that she started as a volunteer at WAMU in Washington, D.C., in 1973.

  • Jan.
      16, 2017

    PBS Kids, a multicast channel and streaming service delivering 24 hours of daily educational children’s programming, launches on 73 public TV stations.

  • April
      13, 2017

    Public TV reaps at least $1.9 billion in the FCC’s television spectrum auction. Most public broadcasters earn millions through channel-sharing deals or moves to low-VHF channels, but eight agree to sell all of their spectrum and go off the air.

  • Oct.
      31, 2017

    The flood of revelations about sexual harassment in the media world engulfs public media as NPR puts Senior VP of News Michael Oreskes on leave. A Washington Post article published the same day details accusations against Oreskes of incidents of sexual harassment that occurred in the 1990s. The same day, NPR Media Correspondent David Folkenflik reports on a complaint filed by an NPR producer about an incident involving Oreskes in October 2015. Oreskes resigns the next day. Chief news editor David Sweeney also leaves NPR later in November following an investigation of sexual harassment complaints by two employees. The Washington Post publishes an exposé Nov. 20 about multiple accounts of inappropriate behavior by PBS host Charlie Rose; the network drops Rose’s show the next day. Citing “inappropriate behavior,” Minnesota Public Radio cuts ties with former Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor Nov. 29. A Dec. 1 article published by New York magazine reveals multiple accounts of harassment involving John Hockenberry, former host of WNYC’s The Takeaway. And PBS and Public Radio International drop shows hosted by Tavis Smiley in December after an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

  • February
      2018

    With fallout from the #MeToo movement continuing to roil public media, NPR confirms Feb. 6 that Daniel Zwerdling has left the network as Current prepares to break news of harassment complaints against the longtime investigative reporter by NPR employees. An outside review of NPR’s handling of harassment allegations, delivered to NPR’s board Feb. 14, reveals that leaders at the network were told of concerns about former news VP Michael Oreskes’ behavior before hiring him.

  • April
      17, 2018

    Longtime NPR newscaster Carl Kasell, who enjoyed a second act as official scorekeeper for the comedy show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, dies at 84.