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Annual Report Home



Arts and Culture Service

"WHYY. Your arts and culture station." This familiar phrase isn't a claim. It's a commitment. WHYY is the Delaware Valley's premiere arts and culture channel choice, delivering audiences the highest quality cultural arts programming through a unique mix of original productions and national favorites, broadcast over WHYY's expanding multimedia platforms.


WHYY is home to the locally produced, award-winning radio programs Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, Voices in the Family, A Chef's Table, You Bet Your Garden, and Showcase as well as programs from National Public Radio and Public Radio International. On television, WHYY is the place to find Masterpiece Theatre, Antiques Roadshow, American Masters and its own original documentaries and series, including Experience, WHYY's series of mini-documentaries.


In addition, this past year WHYY grew its Arts & Culture Service based on advances in new technology, audience wants and needs and a marked growth in cultural content in the Greater Philadelphia region.


WHYY explores new avenues for the arts
On January 3, 2006, WHYY launched Experience: The WHYY Arts & Information Service, the region's first HD Radio channel devoted to arts and information programming. Experience carries classical music programs like Performance Today, Sacred Classics and WHYY's own Showcase, as well as Fresh Air First, the first local broadcast of WHYY's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.


Y Arts (Comcast Channel 241), is one of two WHYY digital cable channels launched this fiscal year, expanding WHYY's digital service to three channels. Y Arts provides 24/7 cultural arts programming, TV12-original productions such as Hometown Legends, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and Experience segments, along with favorite PBS programs like Great Performances, Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery!.


On whyy.org, visitors can access Web-exclusive programs and features, including the series Ed Cunningham's Philadelphia; podcasts of programming; and the WHYY Arts Calendar for highlights of cultural happenings around the Delaware Valley.


Inventive programming for innovative platforms
WHYY's innovative distribution platforms were met with equally creative programming initiatives this fiscal year. In celebration of the 300th birthday of Philadelphia icon Benjamin Franklin, WHYY-TV produced About Benjamin, a documentary that explores the man behind countless achievements in the worlds of science, art, medicine, education and politics.


WHYY continued its Experience series, a collection of short segments that go behind the scenes of the region's diverse arts and culture community. Experience segments air on TV12, Y Arts and in the terminals of Philadelphia International Airport; can be viewed at whyy.org and PhillyFunGuide.com; and are available through Comcast's ON DEMAND service.


In a unique pairing of audio and video content, WHYY took Terry Gross' conversations with artists, actors, musicians and singers from public radio to a viewer-controlled television experience with Fresh Air ON DEMAND. Subscribers of Comcast Digital Cable can watch the program on Y Arts, and access it at their convenience ON DEMAND.


WHYY also partnered with NPR to bring The Philadelphia Orchestra back to national airwaves on a regular basis for the first time since 1997. The Orchestra's performances air on SymphonyCast and Performance Today, and are a co-production of WHYY and NPR.


On 91FM, Joel Rose adeptly reported on the news from Philadelphia's vibrant arts community, including Philadelphia's Live 8 concert in July 2005; City Council's debate over whether to offer public access TV in Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Folklore Project's dance festival; and the controversial move of the Barnes Foundation to the Ben Franklin Parkway. Many of Rose's reports for 91FM also aired nationally on NPR.


WHYY connects the community to culture.
In fiscal year 2006, WHYY introduced Uncover the Arts: Find It, and Know WHYY, a signature arts and culture event for members. This interactive, high-energy treasure hunt sent dozens in search of some of the best arts and culture treasures in Old City Philadelphia. Uncover the Arts invitees included WHYY Arts & Culture Members, a new membership level first offered in June 2006 and numbering more than 1,100 members.


WHYY's Civic Space also played host to a number of engaging cultural events this year. In collaboration with the Johnson House Historic Site and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, members participated in a conversation with authors Lorene Carey and David Bradley in "Triumph Through Adversity: Creating Great Art"; screened Martin Scorsese's documentary Bob Dylan: No Direction Home; explored paths to greater understanding among diverse groups with "Middle Eastern Cultures in Perfect Harmony"; and got wacky for a celebration of Monty Python's Personal Best.


WHYY Arts & Culture, on the horizon
In fiscal year 2007, WHYY will expand the breadth of its Arts & Culture Service even further through several key initiatives, while continuing to provide audiences with the ongoing programs and services they treasure.


The Experience series will explore more of the region's arts community, aided by a generous three-year grant from the William Penn Foundation. WHYY-FM's Showcase will also expand its playlist by adding more regional performing arts groups to its schedule. And, in an innovative production model, WHYY is using robotic cameras to record performances in local arts venues, including the Curtis Institute of Music, for broadcast on WHYY-TV and Y Arts.