Friends of THIRTEEN Marks 50th Anniversary of Public Broadcasting Act

November 1, 2017

Members of The Knights ensemble warm up for the Friends of THIRTEEN event on November 1, 2017.

The Friends of THIRTEEN marked its 50th Anniversary as ambassadors for public broadcasting in the New York community with a celebration at the Metropolitan Club on November 1, 2017. Celebrating flagship PBS station THIRTEEN and the Friends’ early years, the gala luncheon revisited landmark moments and accomplishments through 50 years of WNET’s history.

Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET, welcomed guests and thanked the Friends of THIRTEEN for their, “dedicated support for THIRTEEN for the past 50 years of innovation, inspiration and imagination. It took enormous foresight for the founders of this grassroots organization to see that we would need the passion of viewers and community members to provide an extra boost as we found our home in the homes of millions in the tri-state area.”

Bill Moyers Honored with Award

Bill Moyers

Broadcast journalist Bill Moyers’s recent PBS project is the film Rikers, which premiered on THIRTEEN on November 15, 2016. Photo by Peter Krogh.

Shapiro presented veteran journalist Bill Moyers with the Friends of Thirteen 2017 Inspiration Award. Moyers was honored for his lasting contributions to public television. Moyers was a guest panelist at a Friends’ luncheon in 1969. It was this event that prompted him to leave his position as publisher of Newsday and move to public television.

NYC-ARTS co-host Paula Zahn introduced a performance by The Knights. The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen, The Knights’ founders and artistic directors, performed with the ensemble.

The event also commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which established the model for federal support for public media. MetroFocus co-host Jack Ford moderated a sit-down conversation with Bill Moyers and The Honorable Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Moyers had been “present at the creation” of public media, shepherding the White House task force that would eventually produce the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Califano, President Johnson’s chief assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969, the bill was signed on November 7, 1967. It changed the face of public media forever.

Patrick Butler, President & CEO of APTS, remarked, “We were privileged to welcome the legendary Joseph Califano to our 2017 Public Media Summit in February, and a conversation with Mr. Califano and Bill Moyers about the creation of the Public Broadcasting Act is about as special a prospect as anyone in our business — or anyone interested in public policy and political history — could ask for.”

Other notable attendees included Mae Wong Miller, Chairman Friends of Thirteen, Dorothy Pacella, Executive Director Friends of Thirteen, Rosalind P. Walter, WNET Trustee, longtime supporter of the Friends, and Luncheon Honorary Co-Chair; and Jane Williams, WNET Trustee, Chair of the Education Committee, and Luncheon Honorary Co-Chair. Jack Ford, MetroFocus co-host, served as program host.

About Friends of THIRTEEN

Friends of THIRTEEN, Inc. is a nonprofit organization governed by a board of directors who provide community support for THIRTEEN by strengthening local partnerships, encouraging youth involvement with public media, developing and producing local initiatives, hosting events and expanding grassroots awareness of THIRTEEN’s education resources and quality programming in the New York metropolitan region. Proceeds from the event will be used to enhance the Friends of THIRTEEN’s commitment to innovative community engagement.

Preserving Public Broadcasting at 50 Years

The symposium—“Preserving Public Broadcasting at 50 Years”—will be held in Washington D.C. at the The Library of Congress and livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at and its YouTube site (with captions) at, Friday, November 3, 2-6 PM ET.