Enjoy this step through time charting WETA's history from its founding in the 1950s as an educational television station, the addition of a public radio station, and evolution into a major national producer for PBS.
Elizabeth Campbell is elected president of the Greater Washington Educational Television Association (GWETA).
WETA’s first production, Time for Science — and programs that follow such as Elementary Spanish, Children’s Literature and Window on Our World — begin a long WETA tradition of creating educational programs for use in local schools.
On October 2, 1961, WETA launched channel 26 as the educational television station serving Washington, D.C. An overflow audience came to Yorktown High School to watch WETA’s inaugural broadcast, entitled A New Era, which featured a message from President John F. Kennedy.
WETA moves from a classroom in Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where a renovated gym provides a complete production and broadcast facility. WETA studios would be based at Howard until 1972, when they moved to their current location in Shirlington.
WETA premieres Washington Week in Review, the first station-produced program accepted for national distribution by PBS. Paul Duke hosts 1974–1994, and Gwen Ifill takes the helm in September 1999.
Sesame Street premieres on WETA. The first episode, on November 10, 1969, was sponsored by the letters W, S, and E and the numbers 2 and 3.
WETA 90.9 FM goes on the air with classical, jazz and folk music and news coverage, adding the new NPR news program All Things Considered in 1971.
WETA produces Senate Watergate hearings for a nationwide PBS audience.
Upstairs, Downstairs premieres on Masterpiece Theater.
The MacNeil/Lehrer Report premieres. The daily newscast was a co-production of WETA and WNET, New York, and quickly became one of the most respected programs on television.
The WETA series In Performance at the White House premieres during the Carter administration with a concert by pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
The WETA co-production A Capitol Fourth premieres, presenting the Independence Day concert and fireworks live from the National Mall.
WETA premieres Around Town, a 30-minute weekly roundtable hosted by Robert Aubry Davis. The show features discussion by critics and cultural experts on the visual and performing arts in Washington.
WETA 90.9 FM expands to a 24-hour format.
Ken Burns’s film The Civil War, a co-production with WETA, premieres and becomes the highest rated miniseries in the history of PBS.
WETA purchases its current Shirlington, Virginia, headquarters — now designated Campbell Place in honor of Elizabeth Campbell.
WETA activates a new DTV transmitter and broadcasts its first HDTV production (Impressionists on the Seine).
In September, veteran broadcast and print journalist Gwen Ifill joins PBS as a senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and as moderator and managing editor of Washington Week in Review.
WETA becomes a co-producer of the annual program strand The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, celebrating American humorists.
WETA begins multicasting over the air and through the Comcast digital cable service. Offerings include WETA Prime, WETA Kids, WETA Plus, and WETA HD Showcase.
WETA launches the mini-documentary series WETA Neighborhoods, kicking off a new slate of local productions that include the series WETA All Access and The WETA Guide.
WETA changes radio format to all-classical music and launches Classical WETA 90.9 FM, the exclusive classical music station in the nation’s capital.
The War, a seven-part series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, premieres and earns nationwide acclaim.
Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal wins the prestigious 2008 George Foster Peabody Award for excellence.
WETA launches all-vocal classical station VivaLaVoce online and via the HD2 signal of Classical WETA 90.9 FM.