Jack McBride was the founder and architect of public broadcasting in Nebraska and a pioneer of public broadcasting in the United States.
An Omaha native, McBride graduated from Creighton Prep High School, earned his bachelor’s degree at Creighton University and his master’s degree from Northwestern University. He taught at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He returned to Nebraska in 1953 to begin educational television programming for the University of Nebraska. Starting as a one-person staff, he oversaw and directed development of one of the nation’s premier public broadcasting systems over the course of his forty-three-year career. He was widely regarded as a visionary for his role in the expansion and innovative utilization of the state’s broadcasting and telecommunications resources.As Director of University Television, he activated the nation’s ninth public television station, KUON-TV, in 1954 and served as General Manager of the station. That station became the anchor for a nine-station Nebraska Educational Television Network with McBride serving as General Manager of the network and of the state’s newly-created Educational Television Commission. A nine-station Nebraska Public Radio Network was subsequently created and activated under his leadership. He helped design and plan the Nebraska Educational Television Center to house the multiple operations of the network, and from that facility, a variety of additional public non-broadcast program services were developed and originated. The NET Center pioneered development of new educational services that used the latest broadcast, cable, satellite, video disc and interactive computer-based technologies.
McBride co-created Hearing Impaired Video Information Service for Nebraskans with hearing deficiencies; agricultural Video Information Services; CorpNet instructional television service for Lincoln and Omaha businesses; NEB*SAT and AG*SAT satellite broadcasting services; and Heartland*USA international program service for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the AMERICAN INDIAN and HISPANIC satellite network services. As Special Assistant to the University of Nebraska President, he developed the State University of Nebraska (SUN) and the University of Mid-America (UMA) multi-media distance learning projects.
McBride served as General Manager of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Network until his retirement in 1996. He held a number of positions in regional and national broadcasting organizations and was instrumental in developing PBS, a private, nonprofit corporation founded in 1969 that provides television programming and related services throughout the United States. McBride served as a consultant, researcher or presenter for more than eighty special projects involving U.S. government agencies, state governments, universities, foundations and corporations. His consulting and special projects helped more than twenty states and twenty-five foreign countries establish other public television networks and originate new programs, services and interactive video projects.
Honors include Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation Court of Honor; the first Nebraska Humanities Council Sower Award; University of Nebraska Builders Award; Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame; Nebraska Society of Washington D.C. Distinguished Nebraskan Award; NEBRASKALAND Foundation Trailblazer Award; Lincoln Foundation/Duncan Aviation Sower Award; Lincoln Journal Star 20th Century Legacy Recognition: 100 People Who Helped Build Nebraska; Creighton Prep Alumnus of the Year and Creighton University Distinguished Alumnus Award.
McBride’s family included his wife, Jean, son David, daughter Julie (Olson) and four grandchildren.
For more information about Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, visit http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/about-net/net-history.