Alvarado joins CIR, Knight fellows announced, NewsHour hires new managing editor, and more…

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Alvarado, a former APM and CPB exec, is joining the Center for Investigative Reporting

The nonprofit news organization announced on May 2 that Alvarado will serve as chief strategy officer and work to expand membership, engage diverse audiences and increase revenue for the San Francisco–based center, the nation’s oldest nonprofit investigative reporting organization. Alvarado also will take a leadership role in the center’s upcoming Knight Foundation–funded YouTube investigative channel.

Alvarado departed in March from American Public Media, where he served as senior v.p. for digital innovation for two years. In 2009, he led efforts to bring more diversity and digital innovation to public media as a CPB senior v.p.

“When I joined the board of CIR last year,” Alvarado said in a statement, “I said that CIR exemplifies a truly networked newsroom with some of the most talented reporters and producers working today. It’s still true — and even more so with the merger with the Bay Citizen,” the local nonprofit online news hub.

Prior to joining CPB, Alvarado headed up the National Public Lightpath, which advocates for high-speed fiber-optic networks.

Several public media journalists will pursue their proposals for journalism innovation at Stanford University next academic year.

Among the 13 recipients of John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships announced May 1 were:  Barbara Allen, a producer/engineer at Chicago’s WTTW-TV, who will work on a transmedia platform creating virtual-reality experiences of historical events; Andrew Donohue, editor of the nonprofit news outlet Voice of San Diego, who will develop sustainable investigative news projects built around crowdsourcing, transparency and narrative storytelling; Latoya Peterson, a former Public Media Corps fellow and editor and owner of, who will use the multimedia and text capabilities of mobile technology to democratize communication and societal participation; and Eric Westervelt, Berlin correspondent for NPR News, who will create a digital international news platform using all aspects of new media.

PBS NewsHour has hired visual journalist Tom Kennedy, formerly of and the National Geographic Society, as its managing editor for multimedia.

Kennedy currently teaches in the multimedia, photography and design department at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. In more than 35 years in print and online journalism, he has created, directed and edited projects that have earned Pulitzers, Emmys, Peabodys and Edward R. Murrow awards.

At the NewsHour, Kennedy will direct online content strategies and digital operations. In his previous jobs, Kennedy was managing editor for multimedia at He also directed photography at the National Geographic Society. Kennedy begins work at the NewsHour in June.

Former Newsweek chief exec Tom Ascheim, is now chief strategy officer and executive v.p. of Sesame Learning, a new position within Sesame Workshop’s educational publishing unit.

He’ll oversee corporate business development as well as the Sesame Learning unit, which provides Sesame Street educational assets to classrooms and childcare settings. Previous to Newsweek, Ascheim ran the Nickelodeon TV group and headed up Nickelodeon’s digital networks.

During his time at Nickelodeon, Ascheim forged a relationship with Sesame Workshop to launch Noggin, a preschool educational channel. The Workshop sold its ownership stake in the joint venture in 2002.

Ascheim “has an amazing ability to shape new paths where the models for education and business evolve with digital technologies,” said Sesame Workshop President H. Melvin Ming in a statement.

Alicia Shepard, former NPR ombudsman, is joining the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as a visiting professor in the journalism and media studies program.

Shepard, a freelance reporter who writes for Current, will teach media ethics and work with the university’s pubradio station, KUNV-FM. Prior to her stint as NPR ombudsman, from 2007 to 2011, she reported for the San Jose Mercury News in California; taught journalism at University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University and American University; and authored a book on Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.


General Manager Dave Spizale, who has worked at KRVS-FM Radio Acadie at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for 31 years, is retiring in June. During his tenure at KRVS, Spizale also served as a president of the former Southern Public Radio, which in 2006 merged with Eastern Public Radio, forerunner of Eastern Region Public Media. Earlier in his career, from 1976 to 1984, Spizale was general manager of KEMC-FM at Montana State University Billings.

Dorie Vallillo, g.m. of Tri States Public Radio at Western Illinois University in Macomb since 1987, has retired. In her time at the station, Vallillo raised more than $6.5 million, oversaw planning and construction of its broadcast and studio facilities, and raised two broadcast towers. Former station Music Director Jeff Holtz introduced her to her husband, Chris Vallillo. The three produced the nationally syndicated radio series Rural Route 3, which later became the station’s popular Celebration Concert Series. Vallillo served 15 years as treasurer on the board of directors for Public Radio in Mid America, and she is currently vice president of radio for the Illinois Public Broadcasting Council.


Chris SchmidtNova has hired documentary filmmaker Chris Schmidt as a senior producer. Schmidt has produced and directed movies and television programs for the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, National Geographic and PBS. He executive-produced the four-hour Nova mini-series Making Stuff, and this season’s two-hour special Hunting the Elements.

Television journalist Lynn Sherr, who began her career at WNET in New York, has a new book out, Swim: Why We Love the Water. A reviewer for Sports Illustrated describes the book as “a witty and informative celebration of her sport, as well as an inspiring tale of personal challenge and discovery.” Sherr also worked for WETA in Washington, appeared on the MacNeil/Lehrer Report and Bill Moyers Journal, and frequently cohosts PRI’s The Takeaway.

Tom Dehner, former news director at WSIE-FM, came out of retirement to write and voice a short personal commentary, From the Sidelines, four times a week on the station at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  The two-minute segments draw on Dehner’s experiences in public relations, broadcast journalism, higher education and sports. “I like to write,” he told St. Louis Today. “This isn’t work to me.”


Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of the online nonprofit investigative newsroom ProPublica, was elected by Columbia University to the Pulitzer Prize Board. In 2010, ProPublica became the first online news outlet to win a Pulitzer, for reporting that chronicled the experiences of one hospital’s doctors while they were isolated during Hurricane Katrina. It also won in 2011 for exposing Wall Street practices that contributed to the nation’s economic meltdown. Before joining ProPublica in 2008, Engelberg worked for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va.; the Dallas Morning News, The New York Times and The Oregonian of Portland, Ore., where he was a managing editor. He is the co-author of Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, and shared an Emmy with Nova for a documentary on biological warfare.

Latino Public Broadcasting has elected Bill Stotesbery, g.m. of KLRU-TV in Austin, to its board of directors. In his announcement letter, Board President Edward James Olmos said that Stotesbery’s “leadership and expertise will greatly contribute in helping our organization grow.” KLRU has worked on several projects focusing on the Latino community, and recently added the Spanish-language multicaster V-Me to its channel lineup.

The new chair of the Association of Public Broadcasting Stations of New York is Alice Recore, president of Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh. Member stations in the association also include WMHT, Schenectady/Albany; WSKG, Binghamton; WNED, Buffalo; WLIW, Long Island; Thirteen/WNET, New York City; WXXI, Rochester; WCNY Syracuse; and WPBS, Watertown. As chair, Recore will work with Executive Director Peter Repas to promote collaborations among members. The association appointed two additional station chiefs as officers: Brian Sickora, president of WSKG, treasurer; and Robert Altman, president of WMHT, secretary.

Minnesota Public Radio has elected Elise Donohue, a rancher who raises cattle in Montana, to its board of trustees. Donohue is the daughter of the late Sarah Maud Sivertsen and stepdaughter of Bob Sivertsen, an MPR “Life Trustee.” The special designation is reserved for board members whose service to MPR is so substantial it extends beyond the usual term of 12 years. The Sivertsens were among the earliest supporters of MPR.


Beverly Kelley, a communications professor who helped launch KCLU-FM/AM, the NPR member station at California Lutheran University, is retiring after 35 years at the school in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Kelley came to the university in 1977 and founded the communication department in 1981. KCLU went on the air in 1994. Kelley has published three books exploring political ideologies in film, and written a biweekly column for the Ventura County Star since 1997. Kelley will become an emerita faculty member.


Cheryl Locher is the new manager of finance and administration at Milwaukee Public Radio, WUWM-FM, supervising the daily administrative and business functions of the station. Locher previously worked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she held several positions, including communications supervisor for university police and research program manager for the Rehabilitation Research Design & Disability (R2D2) Center, an interdisciplinary unit for research, development and instruction related to technology and disability.


The WMRA Radio Network, which includes WMRA and WEMC in  Charlottesville and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, has appointed Donna Carrasco director of corporate and foundation support. Carrasco most recently worked as a senior sales representative for WJCT, the dual licensee in Jacksonville, Fla.  Previously she was employed by the Amelia Island Chamber of Commerce, also in Florida.

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