WXXI-TV Marks 50 Years Of Public Service Broadcasting In Rochester

Sep 6, 2016

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

You can get more information about the sweater drive here. And you can learn more about the 50th anniversary celebration here.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Tuesday also issued a proclamation recognizing WXXI for its contributions to the community.