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Rhode Island PBS Celebrating 50th Anniversary in 2017

Thursday, January 05, 2017



Rhode Island PBS (WSBE-TV) is celebrating its half-century milestone this year after its launch in June 1967, when Governor John Chafee flipped the transmitter switch to the state’s first public television station to broadcast over the airwaves for the first time.

WSBE became independent from state ownership in 2012, when it became a community licensee. In the fifty years span, WSBE modified its logo half a dozen times, relocated three times, and changed its name in 2003 to Rhode Island PBS. 

“The station has experienced enormous changes over time. Even just since I have been here,” said Rhode Island PBS President David W. Piccerelli, at the station since 1998, and its president since 2010. 

“We have gone from 12-inch reel-to-reel magnetic tape for one show to 3-inch digital cartridges with storage capacity for hours of programming. The period of digital conversion - started in 2004 and completed in 2009 - was probably the most dramatic. It changed everything,” Piccerelli said.

Station Operations

According to RI PBS, support for programs and operations comes chiefly from individual supporters and corporate sponsorship, as well as proceeds from events, auctions, and some funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle is a regular on the RI PBS political roundtable show, A Lively Experiment.

“Rhode Island PBS has an infinite capacity for 'one more member' to join the family,” said Piccerelli. “This anniversary is as much a testament to our audience and their support over the years as it is about the station itself. What we are - and what we will be moving forward - is a reflection of our community. This is truly the public's anniversary celebration.”

To mark its 50th anniversary, Rhode Island PBS has adopted a new logo that will be used through 2017. Annual and new events scheduled throughout the year will have a 50th golden anniversary theme.

Upcoming Events

RI PBS announced the upcoming slate of events for 2017:

Preview Screening of VICTORIA  
Friday, January 6 at 7 p.m. (snow date Saturday, January 7) 
Rhode Island PBS studios, 50 Park Lane, Providence, RI 
This preview screening features the first hour of VICTORIA, the latest sensation from MASTERPIECE.  Free for Rhode Island PBS members. Reception with light refreshments, door prizes and giveaways at 7. Victorian-era attire is optional. One-hour screening begins at 7:30 p.m. Advance reservations are required. Call 401-222-3636 x381 or visit ripbs.org.

An Evening Uncorked  
Saturday, April 8 at 7 p.m. 
Pawtucket Armory, 172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket, RI
This annual celebration of food and wine takes on a golden glow for the station's 50th anniversary. Gourmet small bites are prepared by chefs from some of the region's top restaurants. Fine wines from top purveyors and private cellars are poured for tastings. Silent auction offers rare wines and unique packages, accessories, and gifts. The live auction features exclusive items and gifts and boutique wines.

Daniel Tiger “Be My Neighbor” Day 
Wednesday, May 10 at 1 p.m.
Providence Children's Museum, South Street, Providence, RI
Free admission for the first 200 parents and children who register through Rhode Island PBS. This event, with its fun, interactive, educational activities and giveaways, is made possible by a grant from the Fred Rogers Foundation and Vroom, the Bezos Family Foundation. 

Our Town (announced in February)
Premiere in September 
The tour of Rhode Island's charming and storied towns continues. Nominations for the next location are accepted January 1 through 31. The winning town will be chosen by popular vote, and the resulting documentary filmed by residents and friends will be unveiled in September. 


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