In the early 1950s Alabama educators dreamed of using the new medium of television to beam educational content to classrooms and homes across the state. The University of Alabama and several other institutions researched the possibility of creating TV stations, but found that the cost of producing programming and operating a station was prohibitive. By the mid-50s a coalition was formed which led to the statewide network we know today as Alabama Public Television. The state of Alabama provided operating funds for multiple TV stations while the programming was provided by the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Huntsville City Schools and Birmingham City Schools. There was no nationwide network at the time. What we know now as PBS came later.
Alabama Public Television began broadcasting with one station located on Alabama’s highest peak, Mount Cheaha, in 1955. A second station located on Red Mountain in Birmingham followed soon thereafter and seven more stations have been added for a total of nine stations covering the state. Alabama’s early statewide network became a model followed by several other states.
I grew up in rural Alabama and I can recall watching teachers make classroom presentations live on APT. When I came to the University of Alabama as an eager-to-learn student, I was excited to become involved in some of those productions and I have been working at the University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio for 30 years.
Through the years the Center for Public Television and Radio has produced a variety of programs. Recent productions airing on APT include Afterhours: Live from the Red Cat Birmingham, a series for which I produced several programs, as well as Alabama Inc. and Bookmark.
As we celebrate 60 years of cooperation with APT, we look forward to many more years of producing public TV programs for the state of Alabama.