This fall, New York's THIRTEEN, the flagship station of PBS, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sunday, September 16, 2012, with a number of commemorative events and programs, offering diverse programming focusing on the *Black expereince* in the USA.

To be included in this year's celebration are following:

* A converation with Muhammad Ali from 1968, who at the age of 26, had recently been stripped of his title after refusing induction into the Army during the Vietnam War.

* A new series from Harvard scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., slated to air in 2013.

* An interviw with Judith Jamison, dancer, choreographer and artistic director emerita, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

* Archival footge from Soul!, a weekly series featuring top black entertainers.

And more…

For a broader overview of what's planned for THIRTEEN's 50th, see the full press release below:


New York's THIRTEEN, the flagship station of PBS, celebrates 50 years of setting the gold standard for television and providing exceptional community and educational services to the New York metropolitan area.

Half a century ago, on September 16, 1962, legendary newscaster Edward R. Murrow introduced channel 13, WNDT – "New Dimensions in Television," which would later evolve into WNET. In the inaugural broadcast, Murrow said "Tonight, you join me on a great adventure…This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends."

With its glorious past and promising future, THIRTEEN lives up to that mission, offering a relevant alternative to the commercial networks. Its programming was first distributed through the NET program distribution service, but in 1969, shifted to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), now in Washington, D.C.

Neal Shapiro, THIRTEEN's sixth President and CEO, following Samuel Gould, John Kiermaier, James Day, John Jay Iselin, Dr. William Baker, says, "THIRTEEN has made a remarkable impact on television and New York during its five decades on the air. We're even more excited to see the possibilities that the next 50 years present. There will surely be new technology and new delivery systems, but there will always be a need for quality content that inspires, educates and engages audiences. That's a role THIRTEEN is perfectly placed to fulfill."

As an original architect of PBS, THIRTEEN has pioneered a vision often emulated by the mainstream media. The station produces acclaimed content for the country's nearly 360 member public television stations, reaching millions of people with its programs and initiatives. They include PBS's most-viewed documentary series Nature; the seminal cultural biography series American Masters; television's only regular performance arts series Great Performances, which includes Great Performances at the Met; one-of-a-kind reporting about the religious world in Religion and Ethics Newsweekly; the weekly news magazine Need to Know and the children's on-air and online educational programs Cyberchase, Oh Noah!, and Mission US.

Among the commemorative events and programs will be:

– Special programming chronicling the station's extraordinary contributions to drama, music, historic voices; and key events, interspersed with personal stories told by the people who built THIRTEEN from the very beginning.

– Special on-air interstitial material.

– A commemorative Web site ( just launched and with more content to come) featuring interviews with "Pioneers of THIRTEEN" such as Dick Cavett, TV personality and author; Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), and Judith Jamison, dancer, choreographer and artistic director emerita, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, among many others, as well as archival footage from the station's rich legacy including Soul!, An American Family, and USA Arts (with Andy Warhol) which can be previewed by clicking on the hyperlinks.

– An exciting lineup of programs scheduled for 2013 including a major Shakespeare initiative, anchored by the six-part documentary series Prefaces to Shakespeare (w.t.), and an all-star epic presentation of the Bard's History plays (Richard II, Henry VI, Parts 1 and 2,and Henry V) under the title The Divine Right (w.t.) for Great Performances; Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (w.t.); American Masters profiles of Mel Brooks and Joseph Papp, Nature's three-part Attenborough's Life (w.t.), richly illustrated with the sequences Sir David Attenborough has spent 60 years capturing; Simon Schama: TheHistory Of The Jews. On the local front, there will be more titles in the well-received Treasures of New York series.

– A close partnership with community-based organizations to harness TV, radio, and online in order to increase New York City high school graduation rates, in support of the national initiative "American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen."

– A goal to acquire 50,000 new members and donors over a 12-18 month time frame.