BY ADDY PRATT
Break out the sparkling cider and the birthday candles because Seattle Channel is turning 20!
As we embark on our third decade, we’d like to look back at where we started and how we – and the world around us – has changed over the past two decades. Since 2002, we’ve embraced the internet, watched the city brew up a failed “latte tax” effort (no joke), created shows about the arts, politics, and communities that make Seattle the home we know and love, and even launched a TikTok. Twenty years ago, we never could have predicted where we’d end up, but we’re proud of what we’ve done, where we are, and the people we serve. It’s an honor (anyone have a tissue)?
Is this an opportunity to brag a little? Possibly. Can you blame us? It’s also a chance to reflect on how we’ve evolved, contemplate where we might go next, and thank you for your support along the way. Join us for an interactive tour through some of our biggest moments of the past 20 years.
The Early Days
City of Seattle creates a new unit within the Executive Services Division — Channel 28/Video Services, a vast improvement on previous programming. Word on the street was that “until recently, television coverage of the Seattle City Council looked like something from a 7-11 surveillance video.”
Peggy Lycett: Setting the Bar
Peggy Lycett, who started working for the City of Seattle in 1985, is recognized in 1997 for her professionalism and videography skills, setting an early high standard. She’d go on to work for the Seattle Channel until she retired in 2021.
Seattle Channel Debuts
The Seattle Channel is born! Seattle’s government cable access channel had been “TVSea” since 1997, and with this rebrand, the channel headed in a whole new direction. We hit the ground running with new shows and one-of-a-kind specials like “City A Go-Go” (precursor to “Art Zone With Nancy Guppy”), “City Inside/Out” with host C.R. Douglas, “History Link,” “Neighborhood News,” and “Bumbershoot Uncut.” Leading the Seattle Channel is Gary Gibson, the station’s first general manager.
New Digs & New Shows
Seattle Channel gets a new home! We went off the air for a single day while we unplugged and rolled our equipment over to city hall. That same year, Seattle Channel added even more shows for our civic-minded citizens. The “Video Voters’ Guide” (which still helps Seattleites make their votes today), Council Conversations, and CityStream.
May 12, 2003
Preparing for Terrorism
Seattle Channel plays an important role in a mock terrorist attack/emergency preparedness drill, allowing then Mayor Greg Nickles to communicate directly to citizens via cable TV and internet.
Seattle Channel adds a whopping SEVEN new shows! “City at Work,” “Student Voices,” “Eccentric Seattle,” “A Libary for All,” American Avant Garde,” “Living Treasures,” and your favorite enduring bookish series: “Book Lust with Nancy Pearl.”
“Best Public TV Channel”
Seattle Weekly names the Seattle Channel the “Best Public TV Channel,” saying ”It’s so well done, you have to wonder: How could this possibly be a government project?”
Oct. 25, 2006
Seattle Magazine names former General Manager Gary Gibson one of Seattle’s “25 Most Influential People.” The Seattle Times takes note of our growing arts and music programming, with this glowing write-up of Nancy Guppy’s impeccable arts coverage.
Dec. 5, 2008
Dec. 9, 2010
Seattle Channel adds remote live streaming, with our most popular (over 6,000 streams) being the state’s announcement awarding The Seattle Tunnel Group the contract to construct the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
It’s a big day in any young channel’s life when they upgrade from analog to digital. We improved picture quality for city council meeting coverage and set ourselves up for more updates in the future! Plus, Brian Callanan joins the Seattle Channel family, replacing City Inside/Out host C.R. Douglas. And Nancy Guppy is named to City Arts Magazine’s “Culture Maker’s Power List,” which features 50 people behind our region’s phenomenal arts and culture scene.
Dec. 9, 2012
We were there for a “marriage marathon” at City Hall! 138 same-sex couples were legally wed on Dec. 9, 2012, the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Washington state and our “couple cam” captured comments from more than 60 newlyweds.
“Honor Totem” Honors
The Radio Television Digital News Association recognizes Seattle Channel for “Community Stories” piece: “Honor Totem,” with a 2015 Kaleidoscope Award, which honors outstanding achievements in the coverage of diversity.
Sept. 6, 2016
Insatiable for Instagram
We officially launch the Seattle Channel Instagram account you know and love ❤️ Click the link in our bio for the full story (just kidding). Nearly six years later, we have more than 2,000 posts and counting.
Change at the Helm
John Giamberso retires after nearly 17 years working at the Seattle Channel, many of those years as general manager. Shannon Gee takes over as interim general manager and takes on the role permanently the following year.
Seattle Channel increases audience accessibility by adding captioning to live cable broadcasts of city council meetings. The milestone is the start of a closed captioning iniative to have more Seattle Channel programming captioned, including videos on demand.
March 28, 2020
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee, former Mayor Jenny Durkan, and others announce the opening of a field hospital at CenturyLink Field to take care of patients. It would be the start of a historic pandemic that is entering its third year.
June 6, 2020
Our intrepid General Manager Shannon Gee is inducted into the Silver Circle of the Northwest Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for over 25-plus years of dedication to her profession and community.
June 11, 2020
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death due to police brutality, and the protests that followed, the Seattle Channel provided critical city coverage, including this mayor press conference addressing the East Police Precinct, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and former President Trump’s threats on Seattle.
April 20, 2022
Back to the Future
We celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair by getting into the Sprit of ’62. In a Seattle Channel first, we broadcasted live atop the Space Needle as local history buff Feliks Banel hosted a show that had viewers appreciate how the city was changed by the fair.
Multimedia by Tyler Sipe; Editing by Jennifer Nerad and Tyler Sipe