1952: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserves an initial 242 channels for noncommercial educational use. Channel 26 is set aside for the District of Columbia.
1953: The Greater Washington Educational Television Association, GWETA, is incorporated in the District of Columbia for the purpose of activating Channel 26 "to furnish a non-profit and noncommercial educational television broadcast service to the Greater Washington Area."
1961: FCC Chairman Newton Minow accepts the application for activation of WETA, licensed to GWETA. The next day he gives his now-famous "Vast Wasteland" speech on the shortcomings of commercial television.
On October 2, WETA Channel 26 goes on the air with an inaugural program that includes the reading of a message from President John F. Kennedy. The first-year operating budget is $150,000. Programming the first year consists entirely of educational programs produced for and used by the local schools: Elementary Spanish, Children's Literature and Window on Our World.