1990s KQED History
This Week in Northern California, KQED's weekly current affairs program, debuts on Channel 9 with Ginger Casey as host. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood celebrates its 35th anniversary. KQED 88.5FM's Forum debuts, taking an in-depth look at issues of importance to the Bay Area; Kevin Pursglove hosts. Ken Burns' nine-part documentary, The Civil War, debuts on Channel 9 in September. KQED Auction is retired due to declining revenue.
KQED 88.5FM wins a prestigious Peabody Award for HEAT, the late-night program that ran for most of 1990 but was discontinued for lack of funding. Channel 9's award-winning 1991 television productions include Rap City Rhapsody, Julia Morgan: A Life by Design, Out! A San Francisco to New York Town Meeting on Gay & Lesbian Pride, The Race Against Crack, and Maxine Hong Kingston: Talking Story. KQED produces The Creative Mind, a 15-part series featuring conversations with outstanding local artists. KQED's Cooking at the Academy debuts. By the close of 1991, all of KQED's operations are consolidated under one roof with the move to 2601 Mariposa Street. The new building is made possible through the support of KQED members and the more than 17,000 contributors to the Capital Campaign, which raised $9 million in cash and pledges. KQED completes strategic planning that results in the establishment of the Center for Education & Lifelong Learning (CELL) department. CELL's new activities include Sesame Street Preschool Educational Program, offering innovative training for child care providers, and the Parents Project, a research study funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
KQED hosts a series of national videoconferences, Opening All Doors, which familiarizes more than 600 architects and industry professionals with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Living Room Festival and Viewpoints debut as KQED presentations. KQED produces Green Means, a series of short programs about ordinary people across the country doing extraordinary things for the environment. A major outreach effort for the 1992 election complements more than 100 hours of public television and radio programming. KQED teams up with Project Vote Smart to connect members with important information on candidates and campaigns. KQED 88.5FM provides live coverage of statewide election issues in its new weekly series, The 1992 California Election Report. KQED wins a CPB Silver Medal for its Current Affairs production of Thanh's War. Charlene Harvey becomes KQED Board chairperson.
KQED's weekly public affairs program Face to Face debuts. Belva Davis becomes host of KQED's This Week in Northern California. KQED 88.5FM becomes the most-listened-to public radio station in the country. KQED's School Services Department launches Learning Link, a computer-based information network that provides opportunities for educators to share resources in an interactive on-line community. In April, KQED begins the CPB-funded Family Membership, which includes a subscription to KQED's Family Learning Guide, a publication designed to help parents extend the lessons of quality television with activities and suggestions. KQED begins participation in Family Literacy Alliance, a national educational outreach project helping families in need make reading a shared experience. Mary Bitterman starts as President and CEO of KQED on November 1.
KQED TV9 is the most-watched public television station in the country for the second year in a row. San Francisco Focus magazine wins a Gold Medal for General Excellence for magazines with a circulation above 50,000, the most prestigious award given by the City and Regional Magazine Association; Best City and Regional Magazine Award from Western Publications Association; and a National Headliner Award for feature writing in 1993. KQED's School Services continues to operate the largest instructional TV service in California and the nation, reaching more than 3000 schools, 80,000 teachers, and 1.7 million students. For the third year in a row, KQED is the first television station nationwide to schedule a film as part of its Viewpoints series -- Defending Our Lives -- which would later win an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Fog City Radio, an arts and cultural live radio program, debuts in February on KQED 88.5FM. KQED and MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels co-produce If You Build It, Will They Come? - a documentary about San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens. By May, 2300 educators are hooked up to CELL's Learning Link service. KQED's Green Means series wins a Silver Apple Award at the National Educational Film & Video Festival. KQED collaborates with American Playhouse to bring Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City to PBS affiliates across the country. There are now 250,000 KQED members.
KQED goes online with its own Web site, featuring program listings, press releases and content from San Francisco Focus magazine. In March the House Appropriations Committee approves a cut in federal funding for Public Broadcasting. KQED produces The Way it Was, a look back at historic spots in the city including Sutro Baths, City of Paris department store, Fleishhacker Pool, Fox Theater, Seal Stadium and PlayLand at the Beach. In August the amendment to eliminate funding for Public Broadcasting is brought to the House floor where it fails by a vote of 286 to 136! In October The California Report, a radio program designed to fill a void in regional news programming, premieres. Robert MacNeil steps down as co-host of The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour.
This year marks an important time of transition at KQED. The station determined that KQED's future depended upon greater focus and support for TV, FM and CELL (Center for Education and Lifelong Learning). This strategy was designed to address a range of fiscal issues that had affected KQED for several years. While belt-tightening, KQED drew record audiences and accelerated its local and national production activity. TV9 highlights include Chinatown, the second in the Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco series. On radio The California Report is now carried by most public radio stations in the state, providing coverage of issues, trends and public policy decisions affecting Californians. Throughout the year CELL staff train 1,500 teachers and 400 daycare providers in the use of instructional television materials.
The Castro marks the third installment of the Neighborhoods series and is met with community acclaim. Cost cutting pays off as KQED bounces back after years of operating mostly in the red. San Francisco Focus magazine is sold to Diablo Publications, but continues to be a KQED member benefit. The Newshour with Jim Lehrer opens a West Coast office at KQED with correspondent Elizabeth Farnsworth reporting. KQED 88.5FM's Forum celebrates its tenth anniversary. The KQED Legacy Society begins offering an opportunity to recognize those individuals who will be including KQED in their estate plan. In April, the FCC mandates that all TV broadcasters shall convert their signals to digital transmission by 2003.
KQED launches the Television Race Initiative to use P.O.V. documentary programs as a springboard for community dialogue around race and diversity issues. KQED TV9's new production, Bay Window, debuts with local programs to complement national programming such as Africans in America. Youth Radio on KQED 88.5FM premieres in September. The radio station also broadcasts gavel-to-gavel coverage of House of Representatives impeachment hearings. KQED 88.5FM surpasses WNYC FM to become the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation.
The James Irvine Foundation gives KQED $1 million to fund the production of Bay Windows, an eclectic series of shows from panel discussions to local documentaries. The Teletubbies are at the center of controversy over its apparent content. Belva Davis, host of This Week in Northern California, retires from KRON but keeps working at KQED. KQED produces Evelyn Cisneros: Moving On!, a profile of the San Francisco Ballet's prima ballerina. KQED-FM celebrates 30 years of serving the Bay Area. KQED-TV produces The Fillmore, another in its series on hidden neighborhoods of San Francisco. KQED launches Independent View, a weekly guide to independent film and video. Suzi Orman's The Courage To Be Rich is one of KQED's biggest pledge fundraisers. KQED receives a $3 million bequest from Henry H. and Sally E Riklin. The Center for Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL) changes its name to KQED Education Network (Ednet). The most-watched television shows in the '90s were The Civil War (1991), Tales of the City (1994), and Lewis and Clark (1997).
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