Article | 1954: Channel 9 hits the airwaves in St. Louis

Last Updated by Dale Fisher on
UNIVERSITY CITY • Eight men and a woman, all prominent residents, gathered on the temporary set at Washington University. As hot lights glared for the live camera, a voice told viewers, "You are watching KETC."

Public television made its debut in St. Louis at 9 p.m. Sept. 20, 1954, with a one-hour show. Seated among the introductory VIPs was Arthur Compton, chairman of the St. Louis Educational Television Commission, who called the station "a powerful means of education. It doesn't use books, it uses pictures and sound."

It had taken more than two years of planning and fund-raising to put KETC on the air.

Work began in earnest in April 1952, when the Federal Communications Commission announced it would take applications for 2,051 new TV stations across the country. Six were to be for St. Louis, including Channel 9, designated "non-commercial."

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