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NOVA Announces 50th Anniversary Activities, A Celebration of Half a Century of Storytelling Around Scientific Progress


Nearly 50 years ago, the PBS series NOVA filled a gap in broadcast television — delivering entertaining and informative science stories to audiences at a time when there were very few science shows on the air. Produced by GBH and branded as “science adventures for curious grown-ups,” it debuted on March 3, 1974, setting a new standard for science documentary storytelling and becoming one of PBS’s flagship series.

NOVA airs on WKAR-TV 23.1 in mid-Michigan on Wednesdays during varying primetime hours.

“Science and technology are so deeply embedded in our lives, the need for accurate and engaging science communication is even greater today than it was 50 years ago,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Julia Cort. “We’re proud that NOVA continues to play a crucial role, not only informing the American public about the most important stories in science, but inspiring audiences with profound discoveries about our world and our universe that only science can provide.”

As NOVA celebrates 50 years of entertaining audiences with scientific content, WKAR is continuing its yearslong partnership with the nationally renowned program. As part of the national NOVA Science and Society project, WKAR is currently in production on a half-hour television special expected to air in mid-Michigan in August of 2024.

“We’re so excited to have the opportunity to work with NOVA on this project again this year,” said Ashlee Smith, senior director of content and education at WKAR. “On the NOVA project theme of ‘Data and our Digital Life,’ we wanted to focus our storytelling lens on the subject of artificially created art since it is such a rapidly evolving topic in the current A.I. landscape.”

NOVA programming has evolved with the times, particularly thanks to CGI enhancing how we can visualize science from the smallest subatomic particles to the newest explorations of outer space — making possible visually stunning series and films such as “NOVA Universe Revealed,” “Looking for Life on Mars,” “Making North America,” “Polar Extremes,” “Dinosaur Apocalypse,” and many more. The series was also front and center with some of the most challenging issues we’ve faced as a society over the last five decades, including the 1983 film "The Climate Crisis," and the 1985 film "AIDS: Chapter One” which premiered before President Ronald Reagan first mentioned AIDS publicly.

Fifty years since the premiere of its first episode, NOVA continues to be one of PBS’s most popular series — with content reaching more than 55 million people each year on air and across digital platforms — and has been honored with every broadcast industry award, garnering Peabody Awards, Emmy Awards, and duPont-Columbia Awards.

“We all share a fundamental curiosity about ourselves and the world around us,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Chris Schmidt. “For half a century NOVA has been striving to satisfy that curiosity. We tell grand detective stories about the inspirational work of scientists who doggedly follow nature’s clues – ultimately adding to humanity’s collective knowledge. People feel uplifted and inspired with each new mystery solved, and it’s this secret sauce of science storytelling that has kept NOVA exciting and relevant for so many seasons.”

Throughout 2024, NOVA will roll out a series of digital initiatives, content, education and outreach activities, and a robust new slate of programming to celebrate its 50th anniversary. All of these plans will center around key scientific advancements of the past five decades as well as discoveries and issues that are central to our present and future — including artificial intelligence, our relationship to data, the most groundbreaking moments in the history of physics, and the 2024 total solar eclipse.

“At GBH, we are proud to have produced NOVA for 50 years, bringing science stories to national audiences in both an entertaining and educational manner,” said Susan Goldberg, president and CEO for GBH in Boston. “Today, science matters more than ever. We look forward to continuing to bring NOVA to new audiences, on new platforms and inspiring a love of science with these important stories.”

NOVA airs Wednesdays during varying primetime hours on WKAR-TV 23.1 and is available for streaming at video.wkar.org/nova, pbs.org/nova, NOVA on YouTube, and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast, and VIZIO, as well as on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

Executive Producers for NOVA are Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt. NOVA is a production of GBH.

Funding for NOVA is provided by Carlisle Companies, Viking Cruises, the NOVA Science Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.

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