Charles “Chuck” Allen helped launch KAET-TV (PBS-Phoenix), in 1960 and taught television production at Arizona State University. When Charles Allen started at KAET-TV Channel 8, it was a fledgling public television station that stopped broadcasting for the day once classes got out. When he retired in 2002, it was one of the most recognized PBS affiliates in the country. During the four decades in between, Allen pushed for innovative programming like “The Cousteau Odyssey” and the first globally televised open-heart surgery.
Allen went on to work as a program manager in Allentown, Pennsylvania, before becoming vice-president of programming at KCET in Los Angeles, where he worked with Jacques Cousteau and Carl Sagan, among others. However, he wanted to return to Arizona. He returned to KAET in 1980 and led the development the concept for Horizon, the station’s award-winning, nightly public affairs program. Allen had many memorable moments, including 1983’s Operation, a live open-heart surgery during which viewers could call in to the doctor.
He became general manager in 1987, and in 1991 launched The Arizona Collection, a series of programs that celebrates the history and people of the state. In 1997, Allen was named to the Hall of Fame at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and continued to serve until his retirement.