KERA CELEBRATES 50 YEARS ON THE AIR

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FOR RELEASE BEGINNING: JULY 1, 2011

DALLAS/FORT WORTH – KERA, the North Texas public broadcasting station, is celebrating 50 years on the air featuring vintage programming from the KERA archives, an exciting multimedia contest, a special anniversary website and a celebratory fundraising event.

Fifty years ago KERA Channel 13 began broadcasting instructional programs for teachers and students. During those early years the station was known as “The Little Red School House of the Air,” laying the foundation for what is now the public television and radio network that reaches the fourth-largest population area in the country.

Under the early leadership of public broadcasting icons Ralph B. Rogers and Robert A. (Bob) Wilson, a commitment was made to provide the people of North Texas with the broadest possible spectrum of public television and radio programming. KERA’s parent organization, North Texas Public Broadcasting, continued to expand the availability and diversity of public broadcasting programs with the addition of KERA FM (1974), Art&Seek (2008), KERA WORLD and KXT 91.7 (2009), and online and mobile streaming of programs.

Mary Anne Alhadeff, who joined the organization as President and CEO in 2005, says, “From its earliest years, KERA earned a national reputation as an innovator among public broadcasting stations. The late Ralph B. Rogers who led the development of KERA, was the first chairman of the PBS Board of Directors and was one of the founders of the Children’s Television Workshop, which created Sesame Street in 1969. Bob Wilson was the station’s first chief executive officer and his progressive programming strategies and unique leadership style set the stage for a public television station unlike any other in the country. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people in communities throughout North Texas have financially supported the station and they have been instrumental in its longevity and continued success. Today, our public television and radio stations and online services are reaching more people than ever before. It is a time to celebrate these remarkable 50 years and to herald a strong future for public broadcasting in North Texas.”

KERA Classics

In celebration of 50 years on the air, KERA has compiled a collection of vintage original programming from the station’s archives. Entitled KERA Classics, many of these original productions have not been seen by television audiences for decades. Bill Young, KERA’s VP of Programming, says, “Creating KERA Classics has been like an archaeological dig. We had no idea what we were going to discover in the station’s archives. Finding concerts produced in the KERA studios almost 40 years ago and featuring the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson was like discovering an entire city buried in a time capsule.” Beginning July 3, KERA Classics will air on select Sunday and Friday nights through the end of 2011.

KERA Classics kicks off in July with vintage episodes of Opry House, the original Texas country music television series filmed in the KERA studios. A precursor to Austin City Limits, these concerts spotlight artists who were rising stars then and legends now. Willie Nelson (1974) airs Sunday, July 3 at 6:00 p.m.; Waylon Jennings (1975) on Sunday, July 17 at 6:00p.m.; and Kris Kristofferson with special guest Rita Coolidge (1975) on Sunday, July 24 at 6:00 p.m. Two other KERA original concerts, David Allen Coe: The Rhinestone Cowboy (1976) on Sunday, July 10 at 5:30 p.m. and Texas Passage with Michael Murphy (1976) on July 31 at 5:30 p.m. round out the classic Sunday lineup for the month.

Also beginning in July on Friday nights at 7:00 p.m., KERA Classics will show half-hour programs about the people, places and history of Texas. These programs include: Wildflowers (1992) with Helen Hayes and Lady Bird Johnson on July 1; Water Garden (1985) about Philip Johnson’s Fort Worth masterpiece on July 8; Spirits of the Canyon: Ancient Art Along the Pecos River (1991), narrated by Amado Pena on July 15; ENTERPRISE: Tailspin (1984), which documents the final days of Braniff International Airlines on July 22; and South Dallas Pop (2008), that travels back to the early 1970s African-American pop and funk music scene, on August 5.

Other KERA Classics programs to look forward to before the end of 2011 are Profile: Lillian Hellman (1981), a series of interviews with the legendary author and playwright; After Goodbye: An AIDS Story, the Emmy Award-winning documentary about the physical and emotional impact of AIDS on the members of The Turtle Creek Chorale; Contest to Carnegie Hall: The Van Cliburn Competition (1978) about the famed Fort Worth piano competition; and episodes from the KERA series With Ossie and Ruby (1981), starring Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

The beginning of public television in North Texas and its national influence is the topic of a new production about one of the station’s early pioneers. Bob Wilson and the Early Years of KERA is a half-hour special hosted by CEO host and NEWSROOM anchor Lee Cullum. The program recounts Wilson’s vision for the station and its early challenges and achievements, as told through archival footage and interviews with Jim Lehrer, Bob Ray Sanders and Wilson himself. The special will air in September 2011.

Celebrate With Us at kera.org

KERA’s 50th celebration also includes a robust online presence at kera.org.  A new section devoted to the station’s history features a KERA Classics programming page that describes each of the featured original productions; an interactive timeline containing historic images and video of significant milestones since the station’s inception, and an anniversary Guest Book where users are encouraged to share favorite KERA stories or memories. In addition, viewers can post on KERA’s Facebook or Twitter pages or write to KERA 50 Years, 3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75201.

Enter “KERA Rewind” the 50th Anniversary Multimedia Contest

To further commemorate classic KERA moments, the station is running a multimedia contest entitled KERA Rewind.  Beginning Friday, July 1, 2011, participants will submit original video entries on the contest page kera.org/rewind. The entries must be original videos containing images, video clips, impersonations or recreations of favorite KERA personalities, shows or moments from the last 50 years. The submission deadline is Friday, August, 30, 2011, and winners will be announced on Monday, October 3, 2011. KERA reserves the right to exclude submissions that are not in line with KERA’s broadcast standards.

A separate category for children under the age of 15 will allow participants to submit video, audio, original artwork or poems and essays as entries into the competition. The winning entries in the Adult and Under 15 categories will be posted on kera.org and broadcast on KERA beginning in October of 2011. The winners will be chosen by a panel of judges from KERA’s Community Advisory Board. Full contest and prizing information, rules and guidelines are available at kera.org/rewind.

50th Anniversary Event

KERA’s 50th anniversary celebratory fundraising event will be held the evening of Tuesday, November 29, 2011, at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in the Dallas Arts District.  All proceeds benefit KERA. The event honors Robert A. (Bob) Wilson and the late Ralph B. Rogers, and will showcase the station’s history through a multimedia presentation and the participation of public broadcasting personalities including Jim Lehrer, Cokie Roberts and Scott Simon. Ruth Altshuler is the Honorary Chair and Melissa Fetter, a member of KERA’s Board of Directors, is the Event Chair. Host Committee members are: Mary Anne and David Alhadeff, Louise and Gordon Appleman, Cecilia and Garrett Boone, Diane and Hal Brierley, Kay and Elliot Cattarulla, Linda and Harlan Cohen, Lee Cullum, Arlene and John Dayton, Catie and Aaron Enrico, Melissa and Trevor Fetter, Ola and Randall Fojtasek, Carol and Don Glendenning, Tina and Ted Gorski, Sheila and Jody Grant, Nancy and Jeremy Halbreich, Roger Horchow, Naomi and Larry Lebowitz, Janie and Cappy McGarr, Tricia and Bill Miller, Camille Milner and Tim Crouch, Clay Mulford, Alice and Erle Nye, Ellen and Dick Rogers, Barbara and Randall Rosenblatt, Lizzie and Dan Routman, Alann Bedford Sampson, Bob Ray Sanders, Barbara and Myron H. Watkins, and Donna Wilhelm and John Gunn. For sponsorship information visit: kera.org/fifty.

ABOUT KERA

KERA is a not-for-profit public media organization that serves the people of North Texas. The station broadcasts to the fourth-largest population area in the United States. KERA produces original multimedia content, carries the best in national and international public television and radio programs, and provides online resources at www.kera.org. The station’s extensive coverage of the arts can be found at www.artandseek.org. KERA-TV broadcasts on Channel 13.1. KERA WORLD broadcasts on 13.2. KERA-FM broadcasts on 90.1 in Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton, 88.3 in Wichita Falls, 100.1 in Tyler and 99.3 in Sherman. KXT 91.7 FM, KERA’s new music station, KXT 91.7, is streamed online at www.kxt.org.

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