May 17, 2013

Houston's Own KUHT -- America's First Public Television Station

America's first public television station got its start right here on the UH campus. KUHT-TV debuted in 1953 and became one of the founding stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1969. Today, KUHT-TV/HoustonPBS continues to produce innovative programs that are enjoyed by the Houston community.

In the KUHT Collection, hundreds of black and white photographs illustrate the work that went on both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes at KUHT-TV, while approximately 35 films provide a rich sample of the station’s diverse offerings. In all, the collection contains 336 items.

Most of the photographs date from the station’s early days in the 1950s, but later decades are also represented. The collection includes images of production staff and on-air personalities as well as celebrities that had appeared on PBS programs through the years: Mister Rogers, Julia Child, Phyllis Diller, Dustin Hoffman – and even Sesame Street’s Big Bird.

The films in this collection explore a wide array of topics of both local and national interest including the evolution of African-American music, the blowout of an offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979, the controversy surrounding the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1977, integration in two area school districts in the 1960s, and documentaries on boxer Jack Johnson and Tejano music legend Lydia Mendoza. Of particular note is a series of programs from the 1960s called “Education for Survival – Civil Defense,” which covers Cold War-era subjects such as “Weapons in the Nuclear Age,” “Propaganda and You,” and “Radiation and Effects.”

KUHT still engages viewers with its wide range of quality shows.  With programs that cover everything from music, movies, science, local arts, cooking, and cartoons there is sure to be a show that piques your curiosity.  If you're in the mood to dance like a maniacal beast in the comforts of your living room or lounge lazily to soothing instrumentals, check out Austin City Limits.  The longest running music series in this country, it exposes viewers to musical talents from all genres.  Increase songs to your playlists by catching a new enticing performer or just revel in watching your favorite musician do their thing on stage.  If you're feeling the urge to observe and analyze this crazy and fascinating world around us, check out Independent Lens.  This five-time Emmy Award-winning documentary film series brings insightful and thought-provoking films based on universal human themes.  For the children in your life or just for your own amusement, KUHT provides a fine array of programming for kids as well as for the kid at heart with shows such as Curious George, Arthur, and of course Sesame Street.

Make sure to check out these photographs and films in the KUHT Collection to appreciate the transformation of this innovative station from its humble UH beginnings.

Ainslie Bricker
Live piano playing on set
Assembling a set for KUHT
Workers assembling a KUHT set
Art department
Art department musings
Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers with his fellow puppets

No comments:

Post a Comment