Fred Rogers, I hardly knew ye! Startled, listening to a 1985 interview with Terry Gross on a fledgling Fresh Air, to discover that while firmly rooted in Pittsburgh, a major step toward the neighborhood we all love came through the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting System)!
Juggling two loves, for seven years Fred produced his quietly cutting edge show, The Children’s Corner (1954-61), for WQED, Pittsburgh’s public tv channel -and- worked toward a degree from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary over lunch. As he told it to Terry, his expected next step up was cancelled – on the day before his graduation – due to a funding crisis. Praise be, the day AFTER graduation brought a call the CBC, inviting him to work his magic north of the border.
The 15-minute children’s program, Misterogers. ran for three seasons & introduced some of his signature set pieces, from the Trolley to the castle. Wanting to protect his creation, Fred obtained the rights to his show from the CBC, moving it back to WQED.
On February 19, 1968, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted & the rest is history. The quiet man who worked for NBC because he hated what television was, who had a dream of what it could be, set programming on its ear, producing 895 episodes of child-centered, tender loving broadcasting that touched the heart by its willingness to be honest, loving & true.
Thanks, CBC, for giving a young minister with a big dream his first mega stage, for helping Misterogers welcome us to an enchanting neighborhood.