Veteran public TV executive Barry Baker dies at 67

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Barry Baker, who led several public TV stations and also created one, died Tuesday of complications after a fall. He was 67.

Most recently, Baker spent 20 years as g.m. of WDCQ-TV at Delta College in Bay City, Mich.

Earlier in his career, he helped found the public TV station in Austin, Minn. In 1984, Baker changed the station’s call letters from KAVT to KSMQ to stand for “Southern Minnesota quality,” said Eric Olson, who later succeeded Baker.

Olson recalled spending a day with Baker several years ago. Olson, with a commercial broadcasting background, had just been hired as KSMQ’s g.m. “He was very patient and helpful answering all my questions — mostly about all the acronyms” in public media, Olson said.

Though Baker left Austin in 1997, “people here still remember him fondly because of his length of service,” Olson said. “Barry led all the pledge drives and auctions.”

Jim Pagliarini, president of TPT in St. Paul, Minn., remembered first meeting Baker in 1984 during CPB’s Executive Management Training. “We were kids then,” Pagliarini said. The two also worked together closely in the Small Station Association.

Baker’s death “reminds me how fortunate we are all are to be colleagues and friends who work in a wonderful enterprise,” Pagliarini said. “There was a generation, and Barry was among them, that really defined and built what we are today.”

Baker’s first job in public TV was just out of high school at Detroit Public Television. While working there, he graduated from Wayne State University in 1969.

Early in his career he also worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. By 1974 Baker was directing production and operations at New Hampshire Public Television.

Baker was preceded in death by his parents, Marcia and Paul Baker.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Sherri; son Brett; daughter Carrie Platner; three grandchildren; and siblings Marlene Krauetzker and James Baker.

Funeral services took place Thursday in Birmingham, Mich. A memorial is planned for a later date in Bay City.