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The dream of public television on the rural northern coast of California began more than 45 years ago when a small group of television pioneers including William Smullin, Angelo Franceschi, and Norman Cissna saw the need for educational media. In 1961 articles of incorporation were drawn and then in 1962, they armed themselves with $12,000 in donations, a $10,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and a vision that someday the North Coast would be graced by public television.
In 1967, Redwood Empire Public Television received an endorsement by the California State Television Advisory Committee and top priority in the State of California to construct a new educational television station. With this state approval, the station began its fundraising tasks by obtaining individual charter memberships of $10 each. By November of 1968, more than 500 charter members had contributed a total of $10,670 to the station.
KEET-TV broadcast its inaugural signal on April 14, 1969. Using just 500 watts of power, KEET-TV became the nation's 162nd public television station. Shortly thereafter, the station received a $52,000 grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The funds were used to install a new RCA transmitter with 67,000 watts of power. This new equipment allowed Channel 13 to broadcast in color for the first time.
As the station grew, so did the need for a permanent home. KEET-TV's original office was located in the Humboldt County Schools office. In 1969, the facilities moved to a garage in downtown Eureka where KEET-TV broadcast its first signal. The station would soon move to three classrooms in the Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka. KEET-TV finally found its current home during the mid-1970s atop Eureka's Humboldt Hill Road.
The College of the Redwoods Foundation donated the current facility. Utilizing the space of its new location, Channel 13 installed a 30-foot satellite dish in 1978 and became the first local station to receive programming by satellite transmission.
During its more than 45-year history, KEET-TV has become an integral part of the North Coast community. The station's impacts have been expanded. No longer is television just about excellent programs. Just as importantly, today local public television is about reaching out to the community with forums, special projects, and literacy services.
Although there is a long record of accomplishment in the station's history, the future is where the excitement lies. Today, station management looks to the technological marvel of digital television to transform what public television can do in the 21st century.
Digital television will be KEET-TV's greatest investment in the community. This new fusion of video, audio, images, and text will allow viewers to have a truly interactive experience while using public television as an educational and cultural resource.