Celebrating the state's 100th birthday turned out to be more popular than handing out hot chocolate to people standing in line for a free Wii video game system.
According to John McCarroll, executive director of the Oklahoma Education Television Authority, the live broadcast of the state's centennial celebration on Nov. 16 garnered the largest audience in public television history. Speaking before the House General Government Subcommittee on Government Modernization, McCarroll said the broadcast reached 30 percent of households in Oklahoma.
"We set a record across the United States," McCarroll was quoted in the Journal Record. "The only other program to gain anywhere near as many viewers was a basketball game in Connecticut a few years back that garnered more than 20 percent of that state's viewers.
"We are always the number two or three among public television stations across the United States."
The live broadcast of the Centennial Spectacular, held at the Ford Center in downtown Oklahoma City, was highlighted by some of the biggest celebrities to call Oklahoma home. Some of the featured performers included Toby Keith, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, The Flaming Lips and Carrie Underwood.
The event even brought in Willard Scott of the "Today" show to wish the state a happy 100th birthday. No word on how many jars of Smucker's jelly he handed out.
So, congratulations to OETA for setting the record. Too bad the station wasn't conducting its annual fund drive on the same day.