Music Series

 

March Concert

 


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About Mr. Rogers

 
Mr. Rogers 


Celebrate “The Words and Music of Mister Rogers”

Fred Mc Feely Rogers was born on March 20, 1928 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. Rogers earned his bachelor’s degree in music composition at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida in 1951. After graduation, he was hired by NBC television in New York as an assistant producer for The Voice of Firestone and later as floor director for The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, The Kate Smith Hour, and the NBC Opera Theater. Rogers was married in 1952 to Joanne Byrd, a concert pianist and fellow Rollins graduate.

In November 1953, at the request of WQED Pittsburgh, the nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station, Rogers moved back to Pennsylvania. The station was not yet on the air, and Rogers was asked to develop the first program schedule. While there he produced THE CHILDREN’S CORNER,  live daily hour-long show with music and puppets hosted by Josie Carey. Rogers served as puppeteer, composer, and organist. In 1955 THE CHILDREN’S CORNER won the Sylvania Award for the best locally produced children’s program in the country. On THE CHILDREN’S CORNER several regulars of  MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD made their first appearances; Daniel Striped Tiger, X the Owl, King Friday XIII, Henrietta Pussycat, and Lady Elaine Fairchild.

As time allowed, Rogers attended both the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development. Ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963 he chose to continue his work with children and families through the mass media. Next Rogers created a program for the CBC program in Canada, dubbed MISTEROGERS where Rogers made his on-camera debut as the program’s host. When he and his wife and two sons returned to Pittsburgh in 1966, he incorporated segments of the CBC program into a new series which was distributed by the Eastern Educational Network. This series was called MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD. In 1968 it was made available for national distribution through the National Educational Television network which later became Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Rogers with his musical director Johnny Costa wrote all of the music for MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD including the series’ many operas. This included over 200 songs. Rogers also authored numerous books for children and adults. He received more than 40 honorary degrees from colleges and universities. He received every major award in television for which he was eligible and many others from special-interest groups in education, communications, and early childhood learning. In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. In 2002, President George W. Bush presented him with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, recognizing his contribution to the well-being of children and a career in public television that demonstrated the importance of kindness, compassion and learning.

MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD, is the longest-running program on public television. He passed away on February 27, 2003 at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife Joanne Rogers, their two sons and three grandsons.


 

 

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