On September 6, 1975 at 11:58 a.m., longtime public television advocate Lucille Woodard flipped a ceremonial switch to sign WLPB on in Baton Rouge. It was the culmination of three years of hard work after the Legislature approved the creation of the Louisiana Educational Television Authority.
Woodard, a professor at LSU, started working in the 1950s to get educational television throughout the state. After decades of frustrated efforts, the Louisiana Educational Television Authority was created in 1971 and the money to start the state network was appropriated.
KLTM-TV in Monroe was the second LPB station to go on the air in 1976, followed by KLTS in Shreveport and KLPB in Lafayette in 1978. KLTL in Lake Charles signed on in 1981 and KLPA-TV in Alexandria went on the air in 1983. LPB has also entered into a partnership with WLAE-TV32 in New Orleans, which gives LPB a presence in the Crescent City.
Louisiana: The State We’re In was started in 1976 with current Executive Director/CEO Beth Courtney as host and producer. The only statewide magazine in Louisiana, it has garnered many journalism and public affairs awards during its 38-year history.
Our first nationally–syndicated show was Justin Wilson’s Louisiana Cooking. Our 13th series with Chef John Folse, Hook Lies and Alibis, premiered in 2015.
Documentaries about Louisiana and its “unique” politics have always been a major part of LPB’s locally produced programming. LPB combined with rising filmmaker Ken Burns (The Civil War) to produce Huey Long. Other award-winning documentaries produced or co-produced by LPB have included Uncle Earl and Lindy Boggs: Steel & Velvet.
The six-part series Louisiana: A History, LPB’s biggest and most lauded project to date, premiered in September 2003 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase.
Preserving and showcasing our state’s history has always been a goal for LPB. Documentaries such as Signpost to Freedom: The 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott and Against the Tide: The Story of the Cajun People of Louisiana have all explored little-known aspects of our past and present.
In the 1990s, LPB produced a wide range of documentaries about our state’s artists, including Ernest Gaines: Louisiana Stories, Frame After Frame: The Images of Herman Leonard, and Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening.
When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana and New Orleans, LPB documented the heroic actions of rescuers through Katrina’s Smallest Victims and the stories of the storm survivors trying to put the lives back together in American Creole and Washing Away: Losing Louisiana.
LPB has continued to turn out award-winning documentaries. In 2012 the network was chosen to create the official documentary for the state’s 200th anniversary of joining the Union, Louisiana: 200 Years of Statehood. When a program was needed to kick off the Year of Music in 2013, LPB joined forces with the Lt. Governor’s Office and Harry Connick, Jr. to create Sunshine By the Stars: Celebrating Louisiana Music. It featured an all-star lineup of Louisiana musicians performing their unique versions of one of Louisiana’s State Songs “You Are My Sunshine.”