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Public Media for Central Pennsylvania

About WPSU


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WPSU at Penn State is a PBS and NPR Member station and a service of Penn State Outreach, supporting the community as a trusted source for news, information, and education. In a primarily rural service area of 1.3 million Pennsylvanians, WPSU maintains over-the-air, cable, satellite, and digital delivery to ensure free and broad access.

The production studio located in Innovation Park, State College produces local televisionradio, and online content to complement the PBS, NPR, and other public media programming the station licenses for its four television channels, three radio stations, and online presence.

WPSU’s goal is to deliver the quality and breadth of public media to all viewers and listeners. We model a welcoming and inclusive culture that strives to enhance community engagement, deliver regional news, promote Pre-K through 12 school success, and help student interns gain career experience. WPSU is in tune with local concerns that can be part of a greater national conversation by documenting and sharing stories that represent local culture, history, and places. WPSU is a daily reminder of Penn State’s interest in and impact on quality of life and the pursuit of education across all age groups from diverse backgrounds.


Penn State was granted a transmitter construction permit in September 1964 and became the first educational TV station in Pennsylvania to be licensed to a university and the 101st educational television station in the United States. WPSX-TV was widely known locally as “Channel 3.” The X in WPSX-TV communicated the station was an “extension” of Penn State.

WPSX-TV was led by Marlow Froke, director of the Division of Broadcasting at Penn State, as a unit of Continuing Education. On March 1, 1965, under his leadership in cooperation with the newly-formed Allegheny Educational Broadcast Council (AEBC) advisory board, WPSX-TV broadcast to 124 elementary and secondary schools across Pennsylvania to supplement the curriculum and provide in-service training for teachers.

The AEBC, which also oversaw children’s educational programming for commercial stations WFBG-TV Altoona and WJAC-TV Johnstown was comprised of school districts and business and industry leaders. During the first WPSX-TV broadcast school year, the classroom TV service reached approximately 250,000 students in 22 counties.

Evening programs of cultural, public affairs, and adult education were added to WPSX on June 7, 1965, as a Monday through Friday, 7:00-11:00 p.m. schedule. Saturday and Sunday programming was not added until nearly two years later.

WPSU-FM Public Radio

Radio at Penn State began as WDFM on December 6, 1953, a gift from the Penn State Class of 1951 to provide hands-on radio broadcast experiences for Penn State students interested in radio careers. On August 19, 1984, the station was able to procure the WPSU call letters after the radio station at Penn State Wilkes-Barre was shuttered. WPSU aired student programming, classical music, and news and, in 1986, started to air the NPR programs All Things Considered (June 1986) and Morning Edition (fall 1987). WPSU-FM began incorporating National Public Radio programming and became a full NPR Member station in 1992. WPSU-FM and WPSX-TV maintained their call letters but added the umbrella brand name of Penn State Public Broadcasting in 1994.

Digital Delivery

With the advent of digital television broadcasting, WPSX-TV became one of the leading innovators of distributed transmission digital television signals. In 2003, experiments conducted by WPSX-TV helped develop FCC standards for implementation of the distributed transmission systems in broadcasting. In May 2004, Penn State Public Broadcasting received a grant of $1 million from the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) Rural Development to convert from an analog television broadcast signal to digital transmission.

Penn State Public Broadcasting moved to their new digital production facility which was still under construction, in May 2005. On January 3, 2006, WPSU-FM began full-time operation of high-definition digital radio. Along with WPSU-2 public radio mix, and WPSU-3 Jazz digital radio stations, the four digital television channels are WPSUWPSU CreateWPSU World, and WPSU KIDS. On October 15, 2005, Penn State Public Broadcasting announced the call letters for both radio and television were to share the same call letters, WPSU.

Educational Television History

Educational television’s roots took hold right here at Penn State. In the early days of consumer television, the Federal Communications Commission was strictly licensing over-the-air signals for commercial broadcasting stations. At this time, local commercial television channels, such as WTAJ included mandated educational content as part of their broadcast schedule.

Many thoughtful persons who were attracted by the possibilities of educational television wanted safeguards against its misuse for propaganda and indoctrination. Therefore they insisted that the administration of educational television should be widely dispersed and each should be responsible to and supported by its community; that each should have a broadly representative governing or advisory board or both; that each should be not just an “outlet,” but also a source of original programs; and that nationally there should be a center for the voluntary exchange of programs, ideas and information to multiply resources, set standards and stimulate constructive competition.

An 838-member self-appointed Joint Committee on Educational Television filed formal statements with the FCC to petition bandwidth be held for the development of localized educational television stations. On April 14, 1952, FCC chairman Paul Walker announced the commission was setting aside 242 channels for educational television use for an initial period of one year. Walker warned significant progress must be made within one year to convince the FCC to continue to hold the channels.

The American Council on Education responded by hosting the Education Television Programs Institute at the Nittany Lion Inn at Penn State on April 20–24, 1952, chaired by Penn State President Milton S. Eisenhower. Educational leaders, television technical experts, and others made decisions during the four-day conference that guided the programming and funding model that still influences public media today. Congress and President Kennedy passed the Educational Facilities Act on May 1, 1962, providing federal funding for the construction of educational television stations.