One of the pleasures of travel is being able to speak the language of the place you’re visiting — or at least say “hello” and “where’s the bathroom?” Whether your trip is in two weeks or two months, there’s no excuse for not broadening your vocabulary. But how?
With so many methods — CDs, videos, apps, podcasts — picking one can feel more overwhelming than learning a language. The systems below have been used by tourists, college students and F.B.I. agents…
French in Action (Learner.org; type “French in Action” in the search box) This 1980s instructional television series produced by Yale University and WGBH Boston with Wellesley College is a kooky romp through Paris and environs in which an American man and a fetching French blonde exchange basic phrases. Performed in French without subtitles, it is supposed to prevent students from translating words in their heads, so that they will learn the language in context.
The noncommercial Boston station is developing a new business as a centralcasting hub. Today, it’s announcing it will provide master control operations for New Hampshire Public Television. WGBH CTO Joe Igoe says his new facility has the capacity to handle 40 or more stations anywhere in the country that would like to save money by outsourcing…
Like a lot of other broadcasters in the digital age, WGBH has become adept at running multiple channels from a single master control.
Right now, it handles seven: WGBH; sister station WGBX; multicast channels The World (national feed), The World (local feed), Create and ‘GBH Kids; and Boston Kids and Family Television, a cable public access channel run by the city. It also plans on adding an eighth signal by taking over master control of WGBY, another WGBH-operated station serving Springfield, Mass.
WGBH would now like to take its multichannel expertise and its state-of-the-art facility in the Brighton section of Boston, and put them to work for other broadcasters around the country that are balking at the trouble and expense of rebuilding and continuing to operate their own master control.
PBS is putting together a list of significant national “firsts” for PBS and public media. We already have a timeline covering WGBH from 1946 to 1978, and many entries include national innovations. Now, we’re looking for your recommendations and verifications for more!
Please remember, the following are not yet verified, so add your recommendations, corrections, and confirmations in the comments box at the bottom of this post.
Recommendations (to be verified)
1958: WGBH acquired an Ampex VR-1000A and became the first NET member to use videotape recording techniques. (More.)
1960: WGBH produced A.R. Gurney’s first TV drama, Love Letters. The only recording was destroyed in the fire.
1963: WGBH received its first Academy Award for Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World Fred Barzyk reports that it was the first and only Academy Award to ever be given to an educational television station.
1966: Julia Child was the first educational television personality to receive an Emmy Award.
1968: WGBH produced the first double-channel TV show, What’s Happening Mr. Silver? Viewers were asked to put two TVs six feet apart, tune one to Ch. 2 and the other Ch. 44. Six months after the first broadcast, WNET WNDT (Ch. 13) and a commercial station (Ch. 9) were the only other stations to do the same thing.
1972: PBS pioneers the development of captioning, making television programs accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
1972: Nam June Paik, renowned video artist, creates the worlds first video synthesizer. During the broadcast of one of his works, Paik blew out the WGBH transmitter. It is now on display in a German Museum.
1974: NOVA, the first weekly science documentary series, joined the PBS lineup.
The Chicken that Ate Columbus
1980: WGBH Workshop and QUBE, the largest interactive service in the country, produced a live interactive drama, The Chicken that Ate Columbus.” From David Atwood: QUBE was launched in 1977, I joined them as Manager of Production and Operations in the fall of 1980 in time (as I remember) to be there for “The Chicken that Ate Columbus.”
1980: This Old House, the first home-improvement program on U.S. television, tackled its first fixer-upper
1987: Created the first digital audio broadcast.
1990: PBS makes television accessible to blind and visually impaired audiences through the launch of the Descriptive Video Service (DVS).
1994-95: Created the first audio streaming server (featured Frontline Waco: The Inside Story) and the concept of the web as the companion to the TV program.
1998: PBS Digital Week features the first national broadcast of a high-definition and enhanced digital program, Ken Burns’s Frank Lloyd Wright.
1998: PBS becomes the first national broadcaster to distribute high-definition (HD) programming to member stations for broadcast.
1999: Created the first live radio and television streams and established a presence on Apple’s QuickTime TV.
Henry Morgenthau’s Negro and the American Promise is first to have an all black discussion on race in America. Featuring James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Dr. King, the interview made the front page of the New York Times when broadcast, and was later made into a book.
Catch 44 was WGBH’s first public access series. Although only broadcast locally, it made the front page of the WSJ and the BBC emulated it, calling their series “Open Night.”
The first environmental documentary was Austin Hoyt’s “Multiply and Subdue the Earth” on PBL.
Vietnam, a Television History, was the first long-form doc coverage of the Vietnam War.
The first coverage of tennis on TV was WGBH’s coverage of Longwood.
ZOOM was the first show created by kids (they supplied the content), for kids (who sent up to 30,000 letters per week).
Did Al Potter and Greg Harney do the first trans-atlantic broadcast for ETV?
The Victory Garden was the first series to follow the planting and growing of a garden in real time.
This Old House was the inspiration for the commercial sitcom Home Improvement.
WGBH was the first broadcast station to air stereo sound on their FM station which was in sync with he BSO concert on Ch. 2. This engineering feat was then taught to other PBS stations by our engineers.
Was NOVA the first PBS station to produce an IMAX film?
WGBH, long a national powerhouse in public television, took a step this week to becoming a national force in public radio as well.
The Boston station said Thursday that it has acquired Public Radio International, the Minneapolis company that distributes some of the best-known public radio programs, including “This American Life,” to nearly 900 affiliates across the country and on satellite radio, reaching more than 16 million listeners. PRI also produces its own programs.
Since revamping its flagship radio station in Boston three years ago, WGBH has been in direct competition with cross-town rival WBUR on news and information programming for Boston-area listeners.
The PRI acquisition makes WGBH a player nationally for public radio staples such as thoughtful public affairs programming….
… For PRI, the partnership presents an opportunity to create more multiplatform content for its affiliate stations. As an example of the projects PRI aspires to produce, Miller cites its recent State Integrity Investigation project. The network joined with about two dozen stations across the country to assess safeguards against corruption within state governments.
PRI will draw on its experiences with that project as it embarks on a new initiative, Immigrant Lives. Announced July 25, Immigrant Lives will draw on a $400,000 grant from the Rita Allen Foundation to produce stories for PRI’sThe World about immigrants in the U.S. PRI is working on the project with New America Media, an umbrella group for ethnic-news organizations across the country.
Under the partnership with WGBH, the station will assume some administrative functions for PRI, which will reduce costs for the network. Leaders at both organizations have yet to determine how staffing will be affected but expect no sweeping changes.
… PRI CEO Alisa Miller says that, on PRI’s side, the arrangement flowed out of a strategic planning process that began a few years back where they laid out ambitious goals. They later found that though they were quick to identify opportunities, they could not pace their approach to them well. “If there was anything missing from PRI, it was the ability to scale quickly,” she said. “This is an environment where you need to not only be able to move quickly, but also, when you find success, you need to be able to feed it and nurture it.”
WGBH CEO Jon Abbot says that PRI’s “energy and creativity looking at public media’s future will hopefully rub off on WGBH.” Reportedly, the plan is to keep the two organizations operating fairly independently. It will be interesting to watch where this goes….
One additional point: this question of what is needed to support a fast pace of innovation came up just last week in a newswire regarding a large nonprofit health insurer. We expect that we will see more of it in the near future