The following Article is from Your GPB Digital Magazine. Click here to download the iPad App.
“Your GPB” is just one of the many innovative ways we’ve found to serve our audiences since first hitting the airwaves on May 23, 1960. John F. Kennedy is President, and comedy dominates the television line-ups with Danny Thomas, Jack Benny and Red Skelton. Topping the charts on radio are Elvis Presley, with “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and Ray Charles with our anthem, “Georgia On My Mind.” That same month, GPB signed on as ETV, Educational Television on the campus of University of Georgia with a mission to provide educational programs and content to classrooms across the state. Interesting that GPB was ahead of the curve on content creation 53 years before “content creation” became the media obsession that it is today.
GPB IN THE ‘60s - Since 1963, GPB has grown into one of the largest media outlets in the state, with 9 television stations, 17 radio stations and a media-rich educational website. Public Media was able to grow exponentially in the early Sixties, because it was a mandate from the top when President Lyndon Johnson created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967. Johnson believed that electronic media could be used to “enrich man’s spirit.” Now this may be hard to swallow in the era of such “enriching” shows as “Duck Dynasty,” “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” One might question Johnson’s altruism. But listen to his prophetic words: “So today we rededicate a part of the airwaves for the enlightenment of all the people...it will be free, and it will be independent.....television is still a young invention. But we have learned already that it has immense--even revolutionary--power to change our lives…so I think we must consider new ways to build a great network for knowledge…. one that employs every means of sending and storing information that the individual can use. Think of the lives that this would change--the student in a small college could tap the resources of a great university….the country doctor getting help from a distant laboratory or a teaching hospital; a scholar in Atlanta might draw instantly on a library in New York; a famous teacher could reach with ideas and inspirations into some far-off classroom, so that no child need be neglected. Eventually, I think this electronic knowledge bank could be as valuable as the Federal Reserve Bank.”
Forget Al Gore…it sounds like Lyndon Johnson conceived of the internet – but on television. So despite the likes of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”, public media did and still flourished. In the ‘60s GPB created original science and math programs and children’s educational television programs that were broadcast across the state.
GPB IN THE ‘70s - Great programs began to emerge from public media stations around the country in the 1970’s: Washington, D.C.’s WTEP unveiled Washington Week in 1967, still airing today; NET (National Educational Television Network) rolled out “Sesame Street” in 1969. And who can forget one of the most recognizable voices in the world, Julia Child? “The French Chef” premiered with her cheery “Bon Appetite!” in 1963. But it is “Masterpiece Theatre” that arguably is the Grande Dame of PBS, bringing the sword-wielding antics of Henry the VIII and his unfortunate wives into our living rooms.
The elegant “Masterpiece Theatre” host, Alistair Cook introduced us to the back-door deals and sizzling scandals of Upstairs Downstairs and revealed the plotting and double-crossing of I, Claudius, two dramas that helped set the standard for the deliciously addictive Downton Abbey.
GPB IN THE ‘80s & ‘90s - Meanwhile GPB was earning the respect of teachers across the state by creating a network of over 2,000 satellite dishes to broadcast educational video programming to every public school, college and library in the state. Remember how your teacher would drag an enourmous television on a rolling cart into your classroom? That was us, GPB. Some of you probably grew up on SALSA, the Spanish language program that combined fairy tales, live action and puppets to teach Spanish to children. And kids in Georgia still watch “Georgia Stories” when their curriculum calls for Georgia history – it’s the gold standard of Georgia history told with action videos, podcasts and study guides.
GPB next saw growth in the radio sector, launching stations in Warm Springs, Macon, and middle Georgia. Next came Augusta, Athens, Tifton, Savannah, Waycross, Valdosta, Albany, Brunswick and Fort Gaines, Carrollton, Demorest, Dahlonega broadcasting NPR favorites such as “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition”.
GPB TODAY - Today GPB is one of the highest-rated stations in the PBS system and last year received a record 11 Emmys including the prestigious Station Excellence award.
In 2010, GPB celebrated our 50th birthday. As Baby boomers, some of us brag that “50” is the “new 30”, so as statistics stand, pretty much everyone who can operate a remote control either raised their kids on “Sesame Street”, was raised on “Sesame Street” or is being raised on “Sesame Street”. So it’s a great time to reflect on the lessons that Big Bird taught us all: Be kind to others, be curious, read lots of books and share your things. As simple as that may sound, it is the very soul of what we do at GPB. Our programs are celebrations of the beauty and diversity of Georgia’s urban and rural sensibilities; the heritage of multiple populations of color, and the richness of Georgia’s cultural and natural soul. We bring you stories worth sharing. Stories told in the narrative voice you’ve come to love on GPB, and stories about the people and places you want to know more about, learn more about and share with others.
That is what we’d like to do for you here, at “Your GPB,” our first digital magazine. We want you to “see our roots” and go behind the scenes with some Georgia-based GPB Original productions such as “Georgia Outdoors”, “Georgia Traveler” and “Fast Forward”. We hope you’ll love reading about the creators of our award-winning original documentaries and learn what it takes for environmental photographers to “get that perfect shot”. See the process in selecting just the right mix of classic jazz and contemporary jazz for “The Jazz Spot”, or sit back in your armchair and learn something new about history.
We also hope to bring you stories about people with interesting jobs, books you may want to try and cool inventions with a purpose. We’ll introduce you to some new faces and some old music, some healthy ideas and yummy cuisine. And we’ll even share some stories about the dogs we love, the games we play and the gardens we dream of growing. For over fifty years, GPB’s mission has been to create programs that educate, inform and entertain our audiences, while enriching the quality of their lives. You make it possible for us to bring the world to our community and our community to the world. So enjoy as we celebrate the launch of “Your GPB” and tell us what you like and what you’d like to see.
We’ll keep an eye on the horizon for new ideas and cherish some old ones, like how Big Bird taught us to share the things we love. We hope you agree that “Your GPB” is worth sharing.