The University of North Carolina Center for Public Television, established by the UNC System Board of Governors in 1979, began as a single station that began broadcasting from the Chapel Hill campus in 1955. This early foray into educational television was promoted by successive university leaders, the state legislature, individual donors, and thousands of volunteers. Their efforts eventually placed North Carolina in the forefront of public television. WUNC-TV was the tenth educational television station in the country, and the first south of Washington, D.C. The studio at Carolina was in Swain Hall, with additional studios at UNC-Greensboro (then Woman's College) and North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering in Raleigh. The station, which is now a statewide public media system with four channels, operates from the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Communications Center in Research Triangle Park, which opened in 1989.

Both UNC-TV and WUNC radio originated in the early 1940s at Carolina from courses developed by Earl Wynn (1911—1986), professor of drama and radio. Wynn coordinated the interests of a number of faculty and staff interested in broadcasting to establish the Department of Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures (RTVMP) and an allied Communication Center in Swain Hall to house equipment, studio, and broadcasting facilities.