WTTW’s McCarter dies at 81

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Bill McCarter, president and g.m. of WTTW/Channel 11 in Chicago for 27 years before retiring in 1998, died of complications from cancer Thursday (April 21). He was 81.

Dan Schmidt, who succeeded McCarter as president and c.e.o. of Window to the World Communications, told his staff in an email Friday: “Bill left an indelible mark on WTTW, WFMT and public media nationally,” according to Chicago media columnist Robert Feder.

Before joining WTTW, McCarter ran WETA-TV in Washington, D.C., and was chairman of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS). He also spent time at WHYY in Philadelphia and WNET in New York.
McCarter was an early advocate of private funding for stations. He created Washington Week in Review and The McLaughlin Group, and was a prime mover behind Sneak Previews, the first national showcase for movie critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, and Soundstage. During his tenure, WTTW and classical music WFMT-FM (98.7) won 12 George Foster Peabody Awards, five DuPont Columbia Journalism Awards, and 150 regional Emmy Awards.

McCarter began his career at WFIL in Philadelphia, where he worked with Dick Clark on American Bandstand, according to an obituary from WTTW. He graduated from Lafayette College and did his graduate work at Temple University. He also served as a decorated officer with the 45th Infantry Division during the Korean War.

McCarter was preceded in death by his his wife, Linda Warner McCarter. He is survived by his daughter Amy and her husband Jim Costello; daughter Juli McCarter and son Max McCarter; and grandchildren Emma, Ben and Charlie.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

  • Anonymous

    This is a personal loss for me having worked very closely with Bill when he was the GM at WTTW, when he was a good advisor for me when I worked at CPB, as well as a supporter (and my board chairman) of my efforts at APTS. Bill had a calm and reasoned influence on the thinking of many others in public broadcasting and beyond in the congress and at agencies like the FCC. In his post-GM days, we took time to visit when he was in DC on visits to his daughter. His good counsel has been a loss for some time. David Brugger