#TBT: Fred Rogers Speaks Before Congress
"There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are." Without Mr. Rogers, public broadcasting might not have survived. This heartfelt plea from the legendary TV personality in 1969 helped secure funding for PBS — and gave a senator goosebumps. #TBT
‘One of the most powerful pieces of video presentation ever filmed’
Fred McFeely Rogers was an American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. He was the creator, showrunner and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001.
In 1969, Rogers testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, which was chaired by Democratic Senator John Pastore of Rhode Island. President Lyndon Johnson had proposed a $20 million bill for the creation of PBS before he left office, but his successor, Richard Nixon, wanted to cut the funding to $10 million. Even though Rogers was not yet nationally known, he was chosen to testify because of his ability to make persuasive arguments and to connect emotionally with his audience. The clip of Rogers' testimony, which was televised and has since been viewed by millions of people on the internet, helped to secure funding for PBS for many years afterwards. According to King, Rogers' testimony was "considered one of the most powerful pieces of testimony ever offered before Congress, and one of the most powerful pieces of video presentation ever filmed". It brought Pastore to tears and also according to King, has been studied by public relations experts and academics. Congressional funding for PBS increased from $9 million to $22 million. In 1970, Nixon appointed Rogers as chair of the White House Conference on Children and Youth.
According to Wikipedia Rogers died of stomach cancer on February 27, 2003 at the age of 74. His work in children's television has been widely lauded, and he received over 40 honorary degrees and several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999. Rogers influenced many writers and producers of children's television shows, and his broadcasts have served as a source of comfort during tragic events, even after his death.