NET’s Bates to retire, NPR’s Seabrook departs, Bodarky elected PRNDI prez, and more…

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Bates, a producer/director who rose through the ranks to become network chief in 1996, announced his retirement plans June 22, initiating the second leadership transition for the state network’s top job since its founding 58 years ago. Bates arrived at NET in 1975 as a producer/director working on a one-year assignment. He ended up devoting his career to NET, earning a promotion to senior producer and eventually moving into fundraising. He became director of development for Nebraskans for Public Television Inc. in 1985 before being appointed to succeed Jack McBride, NET’s founding general manager, in the mid-1990s.

“Rod Bates’ leadership has brought NET to the highest level of service in our history,” said Ron Hull, a semi-retired NET veteran who hired Bates as a TV producer more than three decades ago. “He has truly made a most positive difference in the culture of our state during his 10 years on staff and 16 years as general manager in shaping the success that NET is today.” Hull, whose public TV career included a stint as director of CPB’s Television Program Fund during the early 1980s, is now a senior advisor at NET.

Like Hull, Bates has taken an active role in the national public media scene.  He serves as board chair for both the Association of Public Television Stations and American Public Television, and he’s a director on the boards of the National Educational Telecommunications Association, the University Licensee Association, the Organization of State Broadcast Executives and the Joint Licensee Group. He served on the PBS Board from 1999 to 2005 and currently holds a non-board position on PBS’s nominating and corporate governance committee.

In addition to his role at NET, Bates is also director of university television and g.m. for KUON-TV at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and secretary/treasurer of the NET Foundations for Radio and Television.

A search for Bates’ successor will be managed by the University of Nebraska, the station’s hiring authority.

Andrea Seabrook has departed NPR to launch DecodeDC, a specialized online news start-up that “demystifies, deciphers and decodes our broken government.”

Seabrook, NPR congressional correspondent since 2003, will channel her expertise on how the government works (or doesn’t) as host and producer of the DecodeDC podcast and blog.

Seabrook began her NPR career in 1998 as an editorial assistant for the music show Anthem. She also worked in NPR’s Mexico Bureau, on the Science Desk and on the NPR/National Geographic series Radio Expeditions. She was a writer and editor on Morning Edition and weekend general assignment reporter for several shows.

The site goes live at July 27.

Paul Westhelle is the new interim director of Jefferson Public Radio in Oregon. He takes the role of his former boss Ron Kramer, who departed as executive director June 30.

JPR’s licensee Southern Oregon University, which ousted Kramer after an auditor found conflicts between the executive director’s dual roles running JPR and raising money through its sister nonprofit, appointed Westhelle to the director’s job June 26.

Westhelle joined JPR in 1990 and has served as the network’s associate director for 12 years. In a statement, he described Kramer as a “friend and mentor” and said he is grateful for the privilege of working with him for two decades.

SOU, which holds the licenses of some JPR stations, announced Kramer’s dismissal in March. Negotiations over control of the licenses and the foundation’s real estate investments on behalf of JPR were put on hold last month (Current, June 25, April 9).

Members of Public Radio News Directors Inc. have elected George Bodarky president of the organization’s board of directors.

Bodarky is news and public affairs director at WFUV in New York. He began serving as PRNDI’s acting president in May, when his predecessor  Jonathan Ahl resigned as news director of Iowa Public Radio and left PRNDI’s board.

The PRNDI members who gathered for the organization’s annual conference, held in Houston June 27–30, also elected Matt Shafer Powell to represent medium-sized stations on the board. Powell is news director at WUOT in Knoxville, Tenn. He succeeded Charlie Compton, news director at WEKU in Richmond, Ky., in the seat, but members elected Compton to serve as an at-large representative.

Amy Tardif, who had served as at-large representative, lost the election for medium-station representative to Powell. Tardif is station manager and news director for WGCU in Fort Myers, Fla.

PRNDI members also elected Aaron Selbig to serve as small station representative. Selbig is news director at KBBI in Homer, Alaska.

Since leaving Iowa Public Radio and ending his term as PRNDI President in May, Jonathan Ahl has taken a position as interim senior editor at WAMC/Northeast Public Radio in Amherst, Mass.

WNYC has hired Jim Schachter, formerly a senior editor at the New York Times, as vice president of news.

Schachter, who begins in the newly created position July 9, will oversee editorial production of WNYC’s local and national radio and digital news properties, including the WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio news teams. He’ll be responsible for strategic planning and will work closely with WNYC’s news and digital teams on the further integration of broadcast and digital content.

During his 17 years at the Times, Schachter held senior editorial positions in hard news and feature sections, including as deputy editor of the business and culture news departments and of the New York Times Magazine.

In the last year, he launched India Ink, the first Times website aimed at an audience outside the United States, and SchoolBook, a collaboration with WNYC to explain New York City’s complex school-choice system to families.

Prior to joining the Times, Schachter reported and edited at the Los Angeles Times, the Kansas City Star and the Jacksonville Journal.


Steve Coll will step down as president of the New America Foundation later this year.  The foundation is home to the Media Policy Initiative, which advocates for regulatory reforms, and Native Public Media, the minority consortia whose start-up was backed by CPB. Coll, a former Washington Post managing editor, has led the nonprofit for five years. After leaving the presidency, he will take a senior fellow position with New America’s National Security Studies Program and work on following up his Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. A board-led search for a new president is under way.


Michael Marcotte, California-based public radio news consultant and former president of Public Radio News Directors Inc., became the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in the Ethics of Entrepreneurial and Innovative Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno July 1. He was appointed by Alan Stavitsky, a public-media scholar who signed on as dean at the Reynolds School of Journalism in November 2011. During his one-year visiting professorship, Marcotte will teach media ethics and radio and news production. He’ll also work on cross-platform collaborations with Reno’s public media outlets KUNR-FM, which is licensed to the university, as well as KNPB-TV, a community licensee that is located on the UNR campus. Marcotte also will continue his research on the changing nature of local public media news and plans to conduct a follow-up survey of newsrooms that will allow for comparison with 2010 research supported by CPB and PRNDI.


Ken Messer, general manager of KYVE-TV in Yakima, Wash., since 2008, has retired. During his tenure he initiated several significant partnerships with cultural and community-based organizations including the Capitol Theater, the Rotary Club of Yakima and the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Prior to joining KYVE, Messer was v.p. and g.m. for the local CBS and Univision affiliates. He was recognized by the Washington Association of Broadcasters as Broadcaster of the Year in 2005. KCTS in Seattle holds the license for KYVE, which serves central Washington State.


Dan Nelson is new director of development and membership for Friends of WLRN in Miami. Nelson has more than 10 years of experience in fundraising or production roles at pubcasting stations, including WGCU in Fort Myers, Fla.; WTIU, Bloomington, Ind.; WOUB in Athens, Ohio; WGBH in Boston; and WFYI in Indianapolis.

The Public Radio Association of Development Officers (PRADO) awarded travel scholarships to nine station-based development staffers who will  attend this week’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in Seattle. Recipients are: Cindy Sweat, KSTK, Wrangell, Alaska; Amy Kramer Johnson, KCAW, Sitka, Alaska; Macadio Namoki, KUYI, Kearns Canyon, Ariz.; Astha Shrestha, WICN, Worchester, Mass.; Leslie Ross, KHNS, Haines, Alaska; Lila Strode, KEDM, Monroe, La.; David Steffen, KZYX, Philo, Calif.; Briana Ezzell, KVMR, Nevada City, Calif.; and Mindy Anderson, KFSK, Petersburg, Alaska. PRADO has provided the scholarships since 2001 to allow development professionals to attend the conference, hosted annually by DEI. PBS is co-hosting this year as well.


WJCT in Jacksonville, Fla., has promoted Stan Cleiland to v.p. of community relations and strategic communications. Previously he served as director of corporate communications. In his new role, he’s responsible for the station’s community messaging and political advocacy. Prior to joining the station, in 2005, he worked at WMFE in Orlando, WTVI-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and Alabama Public Television.     n

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