|On August 12, 1955, WPBT2 went on the air without a penny of tax money having been spent. There was no budget, no income, no paid staff and even the station’stransmitter and antenna had been donated. The broadcast schedule was two hours a day, five days a week, with summers off. But, despite the lack of resources, the young station was firmly anchored in the grass roots of the community. During those early years volunteers produced over 135 hours of local live programs. In addition, the unpaid staff acquired, scheduled and broadcast over 700 films obtained from various sources around the nation.
Since its beginnings, WPBT2 has developed and maintained a technologic and programmatic superiority for which it is recognized and respected throughout the industry. It has consistently been a leader among public television stations. Today, with a signal reach from the Treasure Coast to Key West, WPBT2 attracts an audience of over one million households each week.
WPBT2 has recorded many “firsts” throughout its broadcast history. In June 1967, Pagliacci, the first local color production, was the first complete opera produced and broadcast on television in the state of Florida. By February 1971, WPBT2 became Florida’s first public television station with color capability. WPBT2 produced Florida’s first live television courtroom coverage, gavel-to-gavel, in September 1977, the State vs. Ronny Zamora, which earned the station its first American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award. In February 1980, WPBT2 took television technology to the next step by connecting two continents live, via satellite, for the first time in U.S. history with The Best of Brazilian Television. In January 1982, Top of the World was produced live on tape, via satellite from the WPBT2 studios in Miami with locations in London and Sydney, linking the three continents of North America, Europe and Australia for the first time. March 1983’s production, American Journey Live, was the first production of live satellite feeds that allowed for interactive surveys of audiences. In July 2001, WPBT2 launched its digital broadcast signal and became the first public television station in Florida to go digital.
In January 1979, television news changed with the debut of WPBT2’s The Nightly Business Report (NBR), then a local 15-minute business news program. NBR, now a 30-minute format available in over 90 percent of all U.S. households.
Another of WPBT2’s now-vintage productions is the bilingual comedy classic, ¿Qué Pasa, USA? The series’ 39 episodes are still in rerun here and throughout the country on PBS and commercial stations alike. WPBT2's StarGazers has been appearing on PBS stations throughout the country since May 1985. The station has garnered numerous Emmy Awards for its local productions, which showcase the rich and vibrant textures of the fabric of the South Florida community.
The station has come a long way from its humble origins in the 1950s. It continues to demonstrate its worth to the South Florida region by providing quality content to educate, enlighten, inspire and entertain. Each week, it provides a program schedule as diverse as its audience.
As technology advances at light speed and the creative process of program production shifts, the world of television will change — and challenge. Whatever these changes — and challenges — are, WPBT2 will strive to continue serving the South Florida region with programs that enhance the quality of its life.