KQED chief Jeff Clarke to retire

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Jeff Clarke, a leader among pubcasting station executives during his 44 years in broadcasting, announced his plans to retire next June as president of Northern California Public Broadcasting. Since Clarke joined San Francisco’s KQED-TV/FM as president in 2002, the organization dramatically expanded its television, radio and web operations, despite having to periodically trim spending and staff. Clarke helmed HoustonPBS during most of the 1990s and plans to retire in Houston, where his family resides. Clarke’s accomplishments include creating ground-breaking new media strategies for public broadcasting, PBS President Paula Kerger tells the San Francisco Chronicle. Kerger cites Quest, a multimedia series devoted to science and nature in the Bay Area. Launched in 2006, the series is an example of the “content vertical” websites that NPR and CPB are encouraging more stations to develop. “As we look at our work in the future, being able to seize the power of new media is going to be profoundly important,” Kerger says. “KQED under Jeff has been on the cutting edge of that work.” Clarke also led public broadcasting nationally as a board member of PBS and American Public Television, among other entities. During the 2005 controversy over CPB Board Chairman Kenneth’s Tomlinson’s campaign to inject political ideology into programming decisions, Clarke penned this editorial defending public broadcasting’s editorial independence.