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KPBS' 50th Anniversary

May 3, 2010, Updated September 13, 2010 | KPBS
KPBS supporters, staff, and civic leaders over the last 50 years have all helped make KPBS a trusted source for education, information, and enrichment. Our year-long celebration invites you to discover the past and share in the vision for tomorrow – one that continues a tradition of community service through quality programming.
KPBS 50th Year Anniversary, Happy together for 50 years


September 12, 1960 was just another day for most San Diegans. But for a small group of students at San Diego State College (now SDSU), it was a day that gave rise to a new voice of broadcasters. KEBS formed as San Diego’s first public broadcasting entity, transmitting a radio signal for just a few hours a day, five days a week. Fifty years later KPBS has transformed from humble beginnings into a leading public radio and television station. Click below to learn more about KPBS’ history and the vision for tomorrow.

  • As part of KPBS’ 50th anniversary, the newly established Hall of Fame serves to honor the extraordinary individuals and families while providing inspiration for the future generations. These charter inductees are very diverse in their contributions and accomplishments, but they share one common characteristic: the vision and dedication to help KPBS grow and thrive in the San Diego community for future generations.
  • Ken Jones, a San Diego State professor, had the vision to create an educational radio station on campus. Seven years later, President Johnson signs the Public Broadcasting Act with KPBS General Manager John Witherspoon at his side and spurs the formation of National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.
  • In October of 1970, the station officially changes the call letters to KPBS and lengthens its daily radio broadcast to eighteen hours. That same year, the first program guide is published in 1970 with Gloria Penner as editor. In 1971 KPBS establishes a membership program and holds its first ever pledge drive - more than 1,500 people join.
  • A new transmitter allows KPBS to deliver high quality radio and television programs to a larger San Diego audience. Demand for such programs increases and KPBS delivers with innovative local programs like "Club Date" and "Sing Out" - and debuts national programs like "This Old House," "Nature," "Reading Rainbow" and "the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour."
  • In response to the first Gulf War in 1991, KPBS Radio shifts to an all news and information format during the day and creates the call-in show "These Days." To this day, "These Days" remains the signature, locally produced program on radio. In 1995 KPBS opens a state-of-the-art facility on the San Diego State University campus to support the TV and radio operations under one roof.
  • The new millennium is marked by rapid growth and change in the media landscape during which the station quickly becomes a powerful and trusted news source, especially during times of crisis.
  • Today, KPBS is a multi-media powerhouse providing thoughtful, quality programming and local content on radio, TV, and KPBS continues to expand and grow its news division with the goal to be the premier source of local news and analysis.