NewsHour‘s Judy Woodruff and former CPB Chair Ernest Wilson III have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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The academy, an independent policy research center, was founded in 1780 in Cambridge, Mass. Woodruff and Wilson, now dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, join 4,000 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members that include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, more than 250 Nobel laureates and some 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Other members of the 2012 Academy Fellows are U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, actor Clint Eastwood, playwright Neil Simon, philanthropist Melinda Gates and Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos.

The 2012 academy class will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 6 in Cambridge.

PBS NewsHour hired two journalists to cover politics and health and promoted a reporter to work on multiplatform election coverage.

Katelyn Polantz is joining the politics team. She previously reported for the Roanoke Times in Virginia, where her story about undocumented salary increases for a school superintendent prompted the official to step down. Polantz also worked for Bloomberg News.

Cassie Chew covered health policy on Capitol Hill for AIS Health, a news service targeting healthcare managers, and for the American Health Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit funding research on age-related degenerative diseases. She also reported for the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and the Associated Press.

Beth Summers, a NewsHour reporter since 2005, steps up as coordinating producer of the show’s multiplatform election-year project, backed by the CPB/PBS Diversity and Innovation fund. Summers is a 10-year veteran of NewsHour who started out as administrative assistant to Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez.

A pubradio legend in Kansas City, Mo., is retiring at the end of the month. Walt Bodine, 91, has spent 72 years in the news business.

Generations of listeners recognize his jaunty trademark tagline, “What do you say to that?” His Walt Bodine Show dates to 1978 and has aired on KCUR-FM since the early 1980s. His late-night talk show, Night Beat, premiered on a local AM station in the 1960s.

Bodine’s KCUR interview show aired weekdays until two years ago, when it went to Friday broadcasts. Former KCUR staffer Gina Kaufmann assisted Bodine with the production. “He often said, ‘Let’s not get too exotic,’ ” Kaufmann told the Kansas City Star. “The local aspect of the show was dear to him. If a show idea seemed to be getting too big for our britches, he would remind us what we were there to do. And he was right.”

Bodine began in radio in 1940 in Sedalia, Mo. He interviewed hundreds of national and local figures, including Robert F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman.

The final Walt Bodine Show, a celebration of its host’s career, will air April 27. Two specials will review Bodine’s decades in journalism through archived recordings on KCUR’s Central Standard program, April 24 and 26. Starting May 4, in Bodine’s timeslot, KCUR will launch a new program, Central Standard Fridays, focusing on three of Bodine’s favorite topics: history, food and film.

A former mayor of Elmira, N.Y., is the new top marketer and fundraiser at dual licensee WCNY in Syracuse.

As v.p. of advancement, communications and content delivery, John Tonello will oversee the $20 million “Campaign for WCNY” fundraising for the station’s new Broadcast and Education Center downtown. The 57,200–square-foot facility will also house Centralcast LLC, the master control for 13 New York and New Jersey pubTV stations (Current, Oct. 3, 2011).

Tonello is also responsible for membership, public relations, volunteers, events, development, grants and overall fundraising, as well as brand image, on-air trafficking and messaging on all WCNY platforms.

Tonello has more than 20 years of experience in communications, public affairs and information technology. He was mayor of the city in south-central New York from 2006 through 2011.

KPLU in Seattle/Tacoma has hired a married reporting team from WBEZ in Chicago.

Ashley Gross will cover business and labor for KPLU; Gabriel Spitzer, her spouse, will report on youth and education. The two met several years back at the Alaska Public Radio Network, where Spitzer was host of its AK weekend show and Gross was an AK reporter. Gross’s reporting on the mortgage crisis for WBEZ earned honors from the Chicago Headline Club and the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association. In addition to her time in Alaska, she also reported for Bloomberg News in San Francisco. Spitzer covered science, health and the environment at WBEZ, in addition to hosting Eight Forty-Eight, the station’s flagship newsmagazine.


John Myers, state capital reporter for San Francisco’s KQED, has departed to become political editor for Sacramento’s ABC affiliate, News10 KXTV. Myers joined KQED’s Sacramento bureau in 2003; his previous experience includes producing for local pubTV outlet KVIE as well as KTKR in Norfolk, Va.

Blue Ridge PBS has hired TV journalist Angela Hatcher as executive producer. She most recently was director of communications at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in Forest, Va., a retreat built by the third U.S. president, now a National Historic Landmark. Hatcher has worked as a producer, anchor and reporter at news outlets including WSLS 10, the NBC affiliate in Roanoke, Va., where she was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.


Sesame Workshop has promoted three staffers in its licensing department. Gisela Abrams and Marie-Cecile Girard-Jones, managers of international licensing since 2003, are now assistant v.p.’s. Abrams oversees new business development and merchandising plans for Asia and the Pacific, including the Workshop’s two largest international markets, Japan and Australia. Girard-Jones leads product licensing and marketing for Spain, Latin America and the Middle East. In addition, Kerri Katz, manager of licensing since 2008, was upped to director of licensing, strategic partner relations. She works with the Workshop’s master toy licensee, Hasbro, as well as Proctor and Gamble.

New England Public Radio has a new website and brand manager, Peter Chilton, with a background in magazine production, packaging, annual report design and corporate identity. Since 2007 he’s taught graphic design at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turner Falls, Mass., and has run his own design studio. Previously he managed production at Smith & Jones, a Sturbridge, Mass., advertising agency.


Vicki Mann is now general manager of KRCL, a community radio station broadcasting contemporary music in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mann has more than 30 years of experience in commercial and noncom radio, most recently as station manager of urban-indie rock RadioMilwaukee/WYMS, where she was instrumental in the station’s relaunch as a contemporary music station nearly a decade ago. Mann knows the Salt Lake broadcasting market well. Earlier in her career, she spent eight years there, working for Clear Channel Radio, KCPW and the organizing committee of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. She’s also worked at stations in Chicago; San Francisco; Boise, Idaho; and Bozeman, Mont.

Patricia Simon, president of PBS39 in Bethlehem, Pa., departed the station March 26 after 10 years to pursue other opportunities. Station Board Chair Jamie Musselman announced March 28 that Timothy Fallon is acting as c.e.o. while the board of directors begins a search for a new leader. Fallon has been involved with the station since 1995, served as board chairman from 2002 to 2004 and was project director for the station’s new headquarters, PBS39 at SteelStacks.


WILL/Illinois Public Media at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana promoted Kimberlie Kranich to director of community content and engagement. Kranich directed community engagement for the station since 2001; in her expanded role she’ll supervise creation of programming about the community, including news and public affairs, and coordinate outreach and content for radio, television and the Web. She came to WILL as promotions coordinator in 1998. Kranich’s previous pubcasting experience includes seven years at Penn State Public Broadcasting, where she produced What’s in the News, a 15-minute program airing in elementary schools nationwide, as well as films for the Rural America Documentary Unit.

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