WCNY was launched in 1965 and chartered by the New York State Department of Education as the Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York. WCNY is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, and a member-supported affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service.
WCNY was originally known as “The Education Station,” but has dramatically expanded its services throughout 19 counties over the past 50 years. What was once a single broadcast television channel has grown to include five digital channels, including a cable-only station. WCNY, Create, World and Plus channels are available to more than 1.8 million people over-the-air or via cable, fiber and satellite services.
At the same time, WCNY-FM has grown from a single classical music station to three digital stations. In addition to Classic FM, WCNY broadcasts 24-hour jazz and oldies on its Jazz HD and Oldies HD stations. All three stations also are available for online streaming. Classic FM remains one of the nation’s few remaining locally programmed radio stations, which expert hosts making all music programming decisions. Classic FM also is an NPR affiliate, offering news broadcasts hourly.
In 2013, WCNY moved its operations from its longtime home in Liverpool to a new, state-of-the-art Broadcast and Education Center on Syracuse’s Near Westside. The facility features two large television studios, where Double Down, Financial Fitness, Insight, Ivory Tower and other local programs are recorded in HD. The building also is home to two new radio studios and 10 audio and video production suites, and the Joint Master Control Operating Co., a WCNY-owned company that manages television program distribution for all the New York and New Jersey public broadcasting companies.
As part of its educational mission, WCNY in 2013 launched Enterprise America, a hands-on experiential learning center for school-aged children. The 10,000-square-foot center is a small city, complete with a city hall, businesses and service companies, which the students run as part of lessons tied to coursework in their schools. The facility is expected to serve more than 2,000 students each year.