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Known to New Yorkers as channel thirteen, this station signed on the air in 1962, with Edward R. Murrow promising a new kind of television channel. Since then, they have tried to fulfill this mission with presenting people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with such programs as Ric Burns's film New York: A Documentary Film, Charlie Rose, The Forsyte Saga, and the early version of the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour(now the Newshour with Jim Lehrer). They have also brought to viewers such amazing television moments as Wagner's "Ring" cycle on the Metropolitan Opera Presents series, as well as gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Watergate hearings, the Iran-Contra Senate hearings, and most recently the events of September 11, 2001.

On that day, Thirteen's antenna on the World Trade Center was destroyed, leaving them off air to much of the tri-state area. However, the programming they managed to get on the air in a short amount of time was amazing. It included a discussion between Bill Moyers and a priest, rabbi, and Muslim theologist, and open phones to callers. The events also confirmed the station's role as a community station, when it opened its doors to the displaced Office of Emergency Management, who had lost their headquarters in the World Trade Center.

Their philosophy in programming is defined by a quote from Bill Moyers, who said that success in programing should be measured, "Not by the numbers who watch, but by the imprint left on those who do so."

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