Tuesday is a special day for WXXI-TV. The station is marking its 50th anniversary on the air, as the educational public media resource for the greater Rochester area.
It was on September 6th, 1966 that WXXI-TV 21 launched its first broadcast, Julia Child’s The French Chef…and the organization has certainly grown in scope and the programming it provides to the community.
WXXI-TV started as one analog television channel, and the organization now has three digital TV channels , a cable channel and it owns or operates six public radio stations from Rochester to Ithaca, and also operates The Little Theatre.
WXXI President and CEO Norm Silverstein told a breakfast for founding members, supporters and trustees that the impact of the station came through crystal clear a few years ago when a man came to the station to say that his wife, who had recently passed away, specifically told her husband that if anything happened to her, he should sell a ring he had bought for her and donate the proceeds to the station.
Silverstein says he related that story to a conference of PBS broadcast executives to impress upon them why public broadcasting matters.
“I said I just wanted you to remember why we do what we do and why public broadcasting is important; and the president of PBS has repeated that story around the country about Rochester, and why Rochester is so special.”
WXXI is also celebrating its half-century mark by holding a Mr. Rogers Sweater Drive to benefit the Rochester City School District’s Pre-K students. That drive, which will collect new or gently used sweaters, goes on through September 25th
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Tuesday also issued a proclamation recognizing WXXI for its contributions to the community.