The Maine Public Broadcasting Network is a statewide dual licensee providing both television and radio service throughout the state of Maine. MPBN’s television service is also available in the Canadian maritime provinces and Quebec.
Today’s MPBN is a result of a 1992 merger between Lewiston, Maine based WCBB and Orono, Maine based WMEB.
WCBB TV was founded by Colby College, Bates College and Bowdoin College and signed on as the first educational television service in Maine on November 13, 1961. It served the southern and western parts of the state and the studio was based in Lewiston.
WMEB TV was founded by the University of Maine system and first went to air on October 7, 1963. Among its programs was the “Friendly Giant” and “History with Herb Hake”. In 1964, transmitters are constructed in Presque Isle and Calais bringing educational television to northern and eastern Maine. In 1974 another transmitter is built to serve southern Maine. This group of stations becomes known as the Maine Public Broadcasting Network in 1971. Based on the University of Maine campus it moves to larger facilities in Bangor in 1987.
In 1970, MPBN launched WMEH-FM, Maine’s first public radio service.
WCBB and MPBN collaborated many times over the years but finally merged to form a single entity in July of 1992. After several name changes in the ensuing years, MPBN is chosen to represent both the television and radio services.
Five television transmitters and seven radio transmitters form the statewide backbone of the transmission system. MPBN television provides one HD and three SD channels in its digital broadcast stream: regular PBS programming with occasional local productions (HD), MPBN Create (SD), MPBN World (SD) and a fourth channel which is used for seasonal coverage of the Maine Legislature (SD).
The News Machine, and its French language counterpart La Machine Magique - began in 1974. This weekly half-hour was a news program aimed at grade school students. The French version was added to serve the French Acadian population of far northern Maine. Both series ran in the mid 1970s.
La Bonne Aventure - a 20 episode series devoted to French heritage received national distribution and acclaim in 1976. In 1979 MPBN broadcast the Maine State High School Basketball Tournaments. This annual production continues to this day and features 44 live games from three locations played over the course of 2 weeks each February and garners some of the highest ratings of the year.
Maine Watch - launched in 1987. This weekly public affairs program ran until 2013 and included as one of its hosts the future Maine Governor and U.S. Senator Angus King.
Maine Capitol Connection- daily live coverage of Maine’s legislative activities, began on February 6, 2013 and ran for two legislative sessions.