James Lee Mathes, 73, and Fred Burgess, 64

Two public broadcasters active in southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, James Lee Mathes and Fred Burgess, retired to Kansas together in the 1980s. They died within seven months in 2007. James Lee Mathes
James Lee Mathes, 73, a pioneer in public TV at KCET and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, died March 27 [2007] in his home state, Kansas. He had pancreatic cancer. Mathes worked on such KCET projects as Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and an eight-nation simulcast, as well as fundraising and general administration.

Target: sitters who could be teachers

KCET in Los Angeles unveiled a multimillion-dollar initiative to help prepare kids for kindergarten by training the adults who care for them. Two new daytime talk series — one produced in English and the other in Spanish — are centerpieces of the project. Through daily broadcasts of A Place of Our Own and Los Ninos in Su Casa, KCET aims to provide skills, information and inspiration to unlicensed caregivers and enlist them in the important work of nurturing early learning skills. These friends, neighbors and relatives of parents often work in isolation and have little access to training. Shaped by input from leading educators and formative research on its target audiences, the station’s education initiative has raised $20 million so far, including the largest grant in KCET’s history—$10 million from the energy company BP.