WNIT, the PBS station based in South Bend that serves southwest Michigan, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Station President Greg Giczi tells us a dedicated group of residents came together starting in the late 1960s to launch the station. It took a few years of planning and fundraising, but WNIT TV went on the air for the first time on January 31, 1974.
“We were the first public television station in the area, in the region,” Giczi said. “In fact, when the group of citizens that comprised people from Berrien County and St. Joe County in Indiana and Elkhart County and Kosciuszko County first started getting together and talking about it, the South Bend market was the largest television market in the country without a public television station.”
WNIT now airs 24/7 on five program streams.
Giczi doesn’t know what the very first broadcast was and says a fire some years ago destroyed records that could have answered that question. He’s hoping as the 50th anniversary is celebrated all year, some local historians who might know will come forward.
WNIT now serves 22 counties and airs both national and local programming.
“We look for different local stories. One of the more significant ones we recently produced was two years ago. We did an hour-long documentary about the St. Joseph River, all the way from Hillsdale County, Michigan to the river’s mouth in St. Joe Benton Harbor.”
Giczi says there will be a documentary on the House of David airing this spring, and who can forget the time the station produced a documentary on Pat Moody?
WNIT will hold events throughout the year to mark its 50th. Giczi says it’s all possible thanks to partners and, of course, viewers like you.