Austin, Tex. — The Convention of Stations on Nov. 5  created a Forum for public TV’s national decision-making, opening the way for new cooperation in the fragmented field as well as new varieties of bickering. The new Forum may find itself locking horns with PBS’s board, for instance. Several backers spoke of the Forum as a means of giving guidance to PBS and reallocating functions in the field.
Ralph B. Rogers, the Dallas businessman who re-founded and perhaps saved PBS in the early 1970s, died Nov. 4 after a long illness. He was 87. In business, Rogers was millionaire founder and, until recently, chairman of Texas Industries, a concrete and building materials firm now known as TXI. But in his civic life, he was many men–“one of the last survivors of a generation of leaders who shaped Dallas after World War II,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
Twenty-five years ago this week, public TV first aired Great Performances, its major performing arts showcase. And just in time for the anniversary, CPB in October 1997 gave its top public TV award, the Ralph Lowell medal, to Jac Venza, executive producer of the series from the start. Earlier in the fall the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored him with its Governors Award.No other producer has captured as much free-floating excellence and put it on videotape as Venza, public TV’s major performing arts impresario. He also serves as director of cultural and arts programs at New York’s WNET, overseeing the American Masters biographies, the pop music series In the Spotlight and the local City Arts series. Venza talked with Current Editor Steve Behrens in the offices of the arts unit at WNET.