Penn State

WPSU Penn State celebrates golden anniversary

Every morning in my house starts the same way. Some kids wake up to an alarm. Mine wakes up with “Arthur” on WPSU Penn State.

My son learned his letters with “Sesame Street,” practiced math with “Peg + Cat,” explored on “Dinosaur Train” and prowled the animal world with “Wild Kratts.” And he was not alone.

Sunday will mark the 50th anniversary of the public television station, delivering five decades of visual learning.

“It’s a big deal for us,” marketing director Laura Miller said. “We’re really proud of what we’ve done.”

It started March 1, 1965, developing programs and distributing them to schools. From there, production evolved into a real television station. The original name was WPSX.

“We wanted to extend the resources of the university,” Miller said. “We’ve stuck pretty close to that over the years. There is always an educational component to everything we do.”

Children’s programs, like the ones that seem to play on a loop at my house, are a mainstay of daytime programming, but later on the offerings become more grown-up, such as the phenomenally popular “Downton Abbey” and other Masterpiece presentations.

Miller says other favorites include locally produced programs, especially the “Our Town” series that introduces central Pennsylvania communities to the world through the eyes of the people who live there.

Those are the same people who make up WPSU Penn State’s audience. The station reaches about 515,000 households through a mixture of broadcast, cable and satellite providers, covering most of the middle of the state from New York to Maryland.

Anniversary festivities start for the employees Monday and, Miller says, events will happen throughout 2015. State College is proclaiming March 1-7 WPSU Penn State Week.

Happy birthday, WPSU. You deserve a cake. Sounds like a perfect reason to watch “Baking with Julia.”