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