Fifty years ago today, on Nov. 7, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, legislation that created America’s public broadcasting system. In signing the legislation, President Johnson expressed the hope that one day, public television and radio stations would satisfy “America’s appetite for excellence" and “enrich man’s spirit.”
The Public Broadcasting Act created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which today supports nearly 1,500 public media stations across the country, including Michigan Radio, by distributing federal funding amounting to roughly $1.35 per citizen, per year. The legislation helped usher in a new era of independent, non-commercial media dedicated to public service and education.
Michigan Radio listeners might be interested to learn that former WUOM General Manager Edwin Burrow and Program Director Jerrold Sandler played pivotal roles in ensuring that funding for public radio was included in the Public Broadcasting Act, which was originally written just for public television. Those efforts helped ensure the financial future of both National Public Radio and the hundreds of local stations that make up the public radio system today. You can read more about how the Public Television Act became the Public Broadcasting Act in this 2005 story from Current.