January 9, 2004 by

Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell

1 comment

Categories: Education, Media

ecampbell.jpgElizabeth Pfohl Campbell, an education visionary who founded the first Public Broadcasting Service station in Washington D.C., died on Jan. 7. Cause of death was not released. She was 101.
Campbell graduated from Salem Academy and College in North Carolina, and earned a master’s degree in education from Columbia University. She taught high school English at her alma mater for two years before being promoted to teach college level courses in English and literature. At 25, she became dean of the Moravian College for Women in Pennsylvania, then Mary Baldwin College in Virginia.
Concerned with the quality of public education, Campbell ran for Arlington County, Va.’s first elected school board. She won a seat in 1947, and spent three terms as the board’s chairperson. At the time, she was the first and only woman in Virginia to serve in such a position.
As president of the Greater Washington Educational Television Association, Campbell filed the papers to the FCC requesting a license for UHF channel 26’s airwaves. She testified before a Senate subcommittee in 1958 to show her support of the Magnuson bill, a piece of legislation that gave $1 million to the district and every state in the union to fund public broadcasting. She also lobbied Congress to require every television manufacturer to add a tuner that receives UHF frequencies.
On Oct. 2, 1961, WETA-TV 26, the capital’s first public television station, went on the air. For the next three decades, Campbell worked relentlessly to drum up support and assistance for the station. Today, WETA has an operating budget of about $60 million and produces or co-produces a variety of public affairs shows, such as “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” and “Washington Week in Review.” WETA’s radio station, 90.9 FM, debuted in 1970, and serves as the flagship public radio station for the district.
Campbell received numerous honors for her commitment to providing educational broadcasting to the public, including the Ralph Lowell Award, public television’s highest honor. She was named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine in 1978, and was the subject of the 1999 documentary, “Elizabeth Campbell: A Passion to Teach,” which was nominated for a local Emmy Award. In 2002, Campbell was inducted into the Association for Women in Communication Hall of Fame.
Campbell’s Message to WETA Viewers

One Response to Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell

  1. elizabeth pfohl brasuell

    I did not have the good fortune to know this dear lady, but while surfing the internet, came across her name and since it was the same as my maiden name was very interested and quite thrilled to learn of someone with such a wonderful life – I feel sorry that I did not have a chance to correspond with her while she
    was still alive. I am quite sure that we must
    have related in some way.

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