2015 marks WITF's 50th Anniversary

Written by witf.org | Mar 18, 2015 2:58 PM
old witf bowling alley 600 x 340.jpg

In the basement of the Hershey Community Center

About WITF

It was in 1963 that a bold group of educators and business leaders dreamed the dream that became WITF-TV. The dream became a reality on November 22, 1964, when WITF-TV began broadcasting instructional programs for students and enlightening programs for adults on Channel 33. The station's first home was in the basement of the Hershey Community Center, in a former bowling alley. From these humble accommodations, WITF initially served 14 counties in central Pennsylvania including about 165,000 students. Founders selected the station call letters "WITF" - which stands for "It's Top Flight."

Click here for a Timeline of Significant Moments in WITF's History

Times have changed, and the world has changed since WITF first went on the air. But our commitment to providing high quality educational and cultural programming on-air, online, and in the community is unwavering.

It is from our founders' vision that WITF persists in its mission to serve educational aspirations across the human lifespan, from early childhood through elder maturity.

In honor of our 50th Anniversary, WITF is celebrating with special anniversary events, screenings, exhibits at the Public Media Center, and many other celebratory efforts. Check the list below for details.

Help us celebrate 50 years! We invite you to reminisce and share with us as we celebrate this historic milestone. Share your anniversary message or favorite WITF memory in the comments section below.

50th Anniversary Event - Join the Celebration!

May 14, 2015 (5:30pm)
Legacy Circle 50th Anniversary Dinner
at the WITF Public Media Center
This annual dinner recognizes and honors donors who have generously provided (or plan to provide) gifts to WITF through bequests, trusts, and other life income gifts. The anniversary event will feature Mike Greenwald as the guest speaker.


Mike Greenwald, known affectionately as "Mr. WITF"


Make and Send a birthday card to WITF

As a part of WITF's 50th Anniversary celebration we are encouraging all kids to draw their favorite PBS kids character and include a special birthday message to WITF.  Send your card to WITF and we will include it in a special WITF's 50th Anniversary display in the Loewengard Atrium through August and September 2015. Send your card to:

WITF's 50th Birthday, 4801 Lindle Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111


October 20, 2015
The public premiere of WITF 50th Anniversary Documentary
at Hershey Theatre 
See the special before it airs on WITF TV. This event will include a panel discussion and reception. Open to the public.

October 23, 2015 (6pm)
Current and Former Staff "Homecoming" Reception
at the WITF Public Media Center
Current and former WITF staffers are invited to celebrate and reconnect over hors d'oeuvres and cocktails in advance of a pre-broadcast screening of the hour-long history of WITF documentary.

October 20, 2015
The public premiere of WITF 50th Anniversary Documentary
at Hershey Theatre 
See the special before it airs on WITF TV. This event will include a panel discussion and reception. Open to the public.

The evening of
November 22, 2015

Celebrate! WITF's 50th Anniversary Gala
at The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center
Plan to attend this fantastic event to gather and celebrate the long past and bright future of one of the community's most valuable assets. Gwen Ifill will be the Featured Speaker. More information to come!

Learn more about WITF's history by visiting the Public Media Center to see an archive display in the Lowengard Atrium:

  • A Walk through the Decades of WITF - November 2014 through March 2015
  • Remembering The Great Channel 33 Auction - April 2015 through July 2015
  • WITF: Growing Great Kids Since 1964 - August 2015 through September 2015
  • Tech Tsunami: Surfing the Wave with WITF - October 2015 through December 2015

Also look for opportunities to purchase the WITF commemorative history book and watch the documentary on WITF TV this fall.

old witf man at monitor 600 x 340-thumb-600x340-18017.jpg


Timeline of Significant Moments in WITF's History


WITF is incorporated as the South Central Educational Broadcasting Council.

November 22, 1964

WITF TV begins broadcasting with the call letters that stand for "It's Top Flight" from a converted bowling alley in the basement of the Hershey Community Center.

April 1, 1971

WITF FM signs on the air.

September 27, 1982

First day of operations at 1982 Locust Lane, Harrisburg.


WITF publishes Central PA (formerly Apprise) magazine.


WITF takes over operation of Radio PA Network, a state government news service for commercial radio stations statewide.


Lancaster translator (99.7) goes on the air.


A website is born... WITF.org takes its place on the World Wide Web.

August 26, 1998

WITF DTV is Pennsylvania's first digital television channel (and one of 7 public broadcasting pioneers in the country).

May 20, 2000

WITF's Board approves campaign plan for a new headquarters. Land for the first purpose-built facility in WITF's history is purchased in Swatara Township in 2002.


TV Smart Talk, the region's only weekly hour-long public affairs program brings thoughtful conversation on policy and politics in Pennsylvania.


ExplorePAhistory.com promotes tourism and standards-based curriculum for teaching Pennsylvania history.


WITF launches PA Public Radio, a state government news service for public radio stations statewide.

April 21, 2007

WITF celebrates the opening of the Public Media Center with the Where Ideas Take Flight Gala.

October 2008

WITF premieres Radio Smart Talk, a daily interview/call-in radio program.

January 9, 2009

WYPM FM 93.3 in Chambersburg signs on.

July 2009

Pennsylvania cuts grants to public TV by 87.5%; funding eliminated entirely in October 2009.

September 2009

The WITF Board approves On Trusted Ground: the WITF 50th Anniversary Campaign.

June 25, 2012

WITF FM shifts to an all-news and information format.


WITF honored with its first Columbia du-Pont Silver Baton award for StateImpact PA reporting on energy.


WITF wins its tenth national Edward R. Murrow award. (since 2007)


WITF introduces Keystone Crossroads, a new venture into "deep dive" reporting that focuses on Pennsylvania's cities and communities.


Tagged under

back to top