Moss Bresnahan will become the public television system’s first dual president when he takes over in September at WTVP-TV in Peoria, Ill., and WILL-TV, 90 miles to the east in Urbana-Champaign.
He succeeds interim dual General Manager Chet Tomczyk, who delayed his retirement from WTVP to temporarily lead the two stations. Tomczyk has been in charge of WTVP, a community licensee, and WILL, part of the College of Media at the University of Illinois, since September 2013. The unique agreement was designed to foster more collaboration on content between the stations and to save on salary costs.
“We have two great stations here, and the staff at each is so dedicated and has such a great legacy,” Bresnahan said in an announcement Friday. “With the changing media marketplace and the digital world, I think we’re in a great position to work together to really meet the new demands of public service that go along with public broadcasting.” He also anticipates that the strategy will continue to help identify “efficiencies and strategies that can make public broadcasting more sustainable and more vital in these communities.”
Joe Strupek, who chairs the board of the Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corp., governing body of WTVP, said the two stations entered into sharing a general manager “not knowing what would or could happen. What has evolved is a tremendous partnership.”
The next unknown, he said, “was, would we be able to find someone who could take the idea we had and take it to the next step? We are thankful to find in Moss the individual who will be able to do that, who can take that step.”
Bresnahan was president of KCTS-TV in Seattle from November 2008 through August 2013, when he resigned due to “family-related issues.” He’s since consulted for media and nonprofit firms. Prior to his arrival in Seattle, Bresnahan served as president of South Carolina ETV and WVPT in Harrisonburg, Va. He also served for six years as a board member of the International Public Television Screening Conference (INPUT).
“This partnership is groundbreaking,” said Jan Slater, dean of the University of Illinois’ College of Media. “We’re not merging two stations. We’re keeping their strong local identity, but creating stronger public media through that.”