Bergsma leaves ‘house that Stephanie built,’ Raz moves to TED, NPR bolsters race unit, and more …

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Stephanie Bergsma, the KPBS fundraiser who opened the door for Joan Kroc’s $200 million bequest to NPR, retired Dec. 10 after 30 years with the San Diego station.



In addition to cultivating and securing the Kroc gift — which included another $5 million for KPBS — Bergsma established and built the university-owned pubcaster’s Producers Club to its present membership of nearly 900 donors who contribute more than $1,200 annually, raised $20 million in the early 1990s for the KPBS Copley Telecommunications Center and secured multiyear funding from Joan and Irwin Jacobs to start the Fund for Reporting Excellence, which backed the station’s strategic restructuring into a multiplatform news operation within the $3 million Joan and Irwin Jacobs KPBS News Center.

“KPBS is literally the ‘house that Stephanie built,’ ” said KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “From the equipment to the building and the new Jacobs News Center, KPBS would not be what we are today without her passion and dedication to raising the necessary funds for our operation.”

“Stephanie is a dedicated fundraiser,” said longtime KPBS donor Darlene Marcos Shiley in the announcement. “Her ability to connect people’s passions to the mission of KPBS is what made her so successful — and respected. I always looked forward to a meeting with Stephanie because I knew she would have an amazing opportunity for me to make a difference in KPBS.” Shiley has given more than $4 million to the station, and contributed $1 million to the Masterpiece Trust that producing station WGBH established to support British drama on PBS. KPBS was among the first stations to successfully participate in a collaborative fundraising program, and it received a portion of Shiley’s gift.

“I have had the best career imaginable,” Bergsma said. “I am so proud of the station and how much we’ve done to strengthen the mission of public broadcasting. We have an amazing team whose talent, energy and great work is the reason why my career was so rewarding.”

She arrived at KPBS in 1982 and left in 1986 to spend time at home with her son David. In 1991 she returned to lead the capital campaign to build the telecommunications center, and she was promoted to associate general manager in 1995.

NPR’s Guy Raz departs as host of the weekend installments of All Things Considered this month to take the helm of the TED Radio Hour, a move he described as “too big to pass up.”

TRH is a co-production of NPR and TED, the nonprofit conference organizer and media platform presenting “world-changing ideas.” The 10-episode pilot season, hosted by Alison Stewart, has been carried by more than 255 NPR stations since its release in April.

NPR and TED (an acronym for technology, entertainment and design) announced this fall that they would launch weekly production in 2013.

Since joining NPR in 1997, Raz has run the news organization’s Berlin bureau, reported from war zones, and covered the Pentagon and the U.S. military. He became host of weekend ATC in 2009 and worked with producer Matt Martinez to revamp the show (Current, May 14).

The changes to the weekend ATC, initiated three years ago, had to fit within the program’s “well-established template,” Raz told Current in an interview. His move to TED Radio Hour is “a wonderful opportunity for me, professionally, to create something from the ground up.” The switch also allows Raz, the father of two small children, to spend more time with his family on weekends.

Raz will sign off as ATC host Dec. 23. His successor has yet to be announced. TRH launches as a weekly broadcast in March.

NPR has added two journalists to its six-person race, ethnicity and culture unit backed by CPB and preparing for launch in the spring.



The network hired Gene Demby, a Huffington Post editor and founder of the blog PostBourgie, as blogger and correspondent; and Shereen Marisol Meraji, a Marketplace reporter and former NPR producer, as a reporter.

Demby started PostBourgie in 2007 and continues to contribute to the group blog, which covers race, class, gender, politics and other subjects. In 2009 the blog won a Black Weblog Award for best news/politics website. Demby also worked for the New York Times for six years as a writer and news assistant.

In 2011 he joined the Huffington Post, where he managed the Black Voices channel through its launch; he also reported for the channel and served as its senior politics editor for much of this year. Demby will join NPR Dec. 17 and start reporting and blogging for

Meraji previously worked at NPR for seven years as a producer for Day to Day and All Things Considered. She also reported from Lebanon as an NPR-Bucksbaum International Reporting Fellow and most recently joined American Public Media’s Marketplace as an inaugural reporter on its Wealth and Poverty Desk. Meraji joins NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates, who is also reporting for the race and ethnicity unit, at NPR West in Culver City, Calif.

The race and ethnicity team will report for all platforms and claim a branded space on NPR’s website. The initiative is supported by a $1.5 million grant from CPB, announced earlier this year. It will serve as a model for future topic-focused channels, according to NPR.



Gustavo Arellano, author of the nationally syndicated column “¡Ask a Mexican!,” is now a weekly contributor to KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif.

His four-minute segment, “Orange County Line,” premiered Dec. 10 as a local insert in broadcasts of NPR’s All Things Considered.

“Gustavo is smart, he’s dogged, he’s funny and he’s occasionally outrageous — but he’s more passionate and plugged in than just about anyone you’ll ever meet,” said Gary Scott, news program director, in the announcement.

Arellano is also editor of the local alternative newspaper OC Weekly. His “¡Ask a Mexican!” answers an array of questions, from the serious (“Does calling a Mexican ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’ say something about your political ideology?”) to the quirky (“Why do Mexicans get into so many bike accidents?”). It’s syndicated to 39 U.S. newspapers with a combined weekly circulation of more than 2 million readers.

He is the author of two books, Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. He’s also a lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Fullerton.

One of pubcasting’s most vocal critics in Congress, South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint, is departing the Senate in early January to lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint said in a Dec. 6 news release. “I’ve decided to join the Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”

DeMint, who served on the Senate Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over CPB funding, circulated letters on Capitol Hill calling for an end to CPB’s federal appropriation and sponsored several bills to do the same. DeMint was re-elected to a second term in 2010 and previously announced that he would not seek a third term.



After a national search, WYEP in Pittsburgh selected one of its own for co-hosting duties on the Morning Mix show. Joey Spehar joins Cindy Howes on the program, airing weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. Spehar began as an intern at the Triple A station in 2006 and most recently volunteered as the host of Friday’s Block Party from 8 p.m. to midnight, playing indie rock, hip-hop, soul and local artists.

Robert Lewis has signed on as an investigative reporter for New York Public Radio’s WNYC. He replaces Ailsa Chang, who recently moved to NPR. Lewis spent the last year doing investigative stories at New York Newsday. Previously he worked for the Sacramento Bee, where his series on moneylenders was a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award for financial reporting. He interned at ProPublica and ABC News and is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s investigative reporting program, where he was Lowell Bergman’s graduate assistant.


Eastern Region Public Media elected new board officers Nov. 14 during its annual meeting at the Public Radio Super Regional Conference in New Orleans. James Muhammad of West Virginia Public Broadcasting was re-elected for a second term as vice-chair, and LaFontaine Oliver, g.m. of Baltimore’s WEAA, was elected secretary after taking the board leadership role on an interim basis. Chair is Glenn Gleixner, WVTF, Roanoke, Va., and treasurer is Robin Turnau, Vermont Public Radio. Two station managers were appointed to at-large seats on the board: Chuck Singleton, g.m. of New York’s WFUV, and Jody Evans, executive director of WCQS in Asheville, N.C. Members also said farewell to Rob Gordon, g.m. of Nashville Public Radio, who left the board upon the expiration of his second term as an at-large member.


The new station operations director at WFIU, Indiana University’s pubradio station in Bloomington, is Will Murphy. He’s overseeing WFIU’s daily operations, program production, and marketing and outreach. This will be Murphy’s second appointment at the station, where he worked as news director from 2000–07. Since then he’s managed community radio station WFHB in Bloomington and, most recently, Northeast Indiana Public Radio in Fort Wayne. David Hunter, NIPR membership services manager, is serving as interim g.m. while the station’s board recruits Murphy’s successor.



KLRN-TV in San Antonio, Texas, has promoted Mario A. Vazquez to president and chief executive officer from his previous post of executive vice president and station manager. “We, as a board, were searching for someone who had business connections combined with an appreciation for the arts as well as an active level of community involvement,” said Edward Polansky, board chair of the Alamo Public Telecommunications Council. “Luckily, we found him right here in San Antonio.” Vazquez is a former classical pianist and founding board chair of the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, in addition to serving on several additional local cultural boards. Before arriving at KLRN in October 2011, he spent five years as manager of the contract administration department at NuStar Energy Corp. in Baltimore.

Ruby Calvert, a fixture at Wyoming PBS for three decades, will retire as general manager in June 2013. Calvert has worked at Wyoming’s sole public television broadcaster since it went on the air in 1983, as the programming director for 23 years then supervising production, promotion and educational services. Calvert has been a member of pubcasting organizations including the University Licensee Association, the NETA Education Council, the Pacific Mountain Network Executive Council and the Small Station Association; she currently serves on the PBS Board of Directors. She’s also a former board chair of the Wyoming State Board of Education.



Katie Kemple has joined Car Talk Vehicle Donation Services as communications director. She also continues to work as a station relations consultant for Intelligence Squared U.S., the pubradio debate series distributed by NPR. Kemple has spent more than 10 years in pubcasting communications and marketing and worked for organizations including CPB, NPR, WGBH and WETA. Along the way she also donated her 1995 Dodge Avenger to a nonprofit. “I look forward to donating the next one!” she said in the announcement.

Nicole Laramee has joined DMW Direct Fundraising, a division of DMW Direct in Philadelphia, which assists nonprofit organizations including pubcasters in fundraising and membership building. As an associate account executive, Laramee will plan, direct and execute campaigns for various clients. She is a recent public-relations graduate of Suffolk University in Boston and worked as an intern with Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group in Allston, Mass.

Dru Sefton, Dawn Morgan and Mike Janssen

This article was first published in Current Dec. 17, 2012.

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