January 1965 - KCET Formally Dedicates Station | KCET
January 1965 - KCET Formally Dedicates Station
On the week of January 20-28, 1965, KCET formally dedicated the station with special programs and events.
Although KCET had already been on the air for four months, the latter part of January was designated as a time to focus on the purposes and goals of the station and launch the formal start of KCET's membership and fundraising drives. The four-month period also gave station staff ample time to iron out all the kinks of operating a brand new educational television station, and also amass a viewership, which itself needed time to become acclimated with the newer television sets that were equipped with a UHF dial.
On the evening of January 20, the same day that President Lyndon Johnson was sworn into office for his first complete term, KCET threw a gala dinner event from the Beverly Hilton Hotel hosted by actor Dick Van Dyke, with the theme, "A Star Is Born."
Organized by Community Television of Southern California board members Sue Taurog and Mary Russell, the $15-a-plate ($112 in 2014 dollars) fundraising dedication dinner, attended by community leaders and representatives of L.A.'s commercial television stations, featured a variety show consisting of music, dance, comedy, and theater performances, which included actor Carl Reiner and the UCLA Theater Group. The program was produced by Jess Oppenheimer and Bob Henry, and directed by Dick Gottlieb. The Mark Armistead Company donated the use of their video tape unit, which enabled KCET to broadcast the dedication dinner on television later that week.
On January 25, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences held an open house event at KCET's Vine Street studios in Hollywood, which featured an address by John F. White, President of the National Educational Television (NET) network.
During the week, KCET aired various cultural and educational programs, including a performance of the opera "Carmina Burana," a children's program called "Reading Out Loud," and a production of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
On January 28, KCET aired a formal dedication special, which consisted of speeches and statements from station staff, government officials, and notable personalities. The program
opened with a speech from CTSC Board Member and USC Professor Emeritus Dr. Frank Baxter extolling the virtues of "ETV" (educational television) and its need to serve the educational needs of schools, colleges, and the general public. Federal Communications Commission Chairman E. William Rafferty followed with his statement on KCET becoming a weapon in "the war on cultural poverty." He also mentioned that since KCET first aired, it coincided with the increase in sales of television sets in the Los Angeles area.
California State Superintendent of Education Max Rafferty and Hollywood film director Frank Capra also shared their own thoughts on the station's importance in society.
California Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown - the father of current governor Jerry Brown - addressed the station's purpose: "Its mission is to use the medium of television to broaden and deepen the experience, and enrich the lives of the people it serves....it was established to help Californians understand the world in which they live and the part every citizen in the world must play to improve it."
NET President John White addressed viewers directly in his statement, telling Southern Californians, "You must not take this station for granted."
Caltech President and CTSC Board Chairman Dr. Lee A. DuBridge also spoke. The 45-minute program closed with Dr. Baxter saying, "We have written tonight the opening page in the chapter of the story of the unfolding cultural life of Southern California...Let us all have a part in building it into a strong and significant force in our lives."
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