Happy Birthday to Public Broadcasting

Nov 7, 2012

Today marks the 45th anniversary of public broadcasting as on this date in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act which helped establish public television and public radio. From that beginning, public broadcasting now reaches over 170 million Americans each month through 368 public television stations and 934 public radio stations. 

Here are some of President Johnson's comments that day.

LBJ signs the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
Credit LBJ Library

"The message Samuel Morse sent to a friend after he invented the telegraph was, "What hath God wrought?"... Everyone of us should feel that same sense and awe and wonderment here today... For today miracles in communication are a daily routine...Today our problem is not making miracles but managing miracles. We might ponder a different question: what hath man wrought and how will man use his inventions. The law that I will sign shortly offers one answer to that question. It announces to the world that our Nation wants more than just material wealth; our nation wants more than a "chicken in every pot". We in America have an appetite for excellence, too. While we work every day to produce new goods and create new wealth, we want also to enrich man's spirit. That is the purpose of this act.... "What hath man wrought? And how will man use his miracles? The answer just begins with public broadcasting. So today we rededicate a part of the airwaves-which belong to all of the people- and we dedicate them for enlightenment of all of the people..." November 7, 1967

While the federal government helped create public broadcasting, it has been local listener and community support that has sustained and developed this important medium over the years. So today, we salute our past leaders for their vision and our public radio community for their nurturing of this communication medium that, in the words of E.B. White, has always "addressed itself to the ideal of excellence, rather than idea of acceptability."