CPB gets five new board members, Deggans joins NPR as its new television correspondent, and more . . .

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The U.S. Senate has confirmed all five of President Obama’s nominations to the CPB Board.

The confirmation vote on the evening of Aug. 1 was part of a larger deal among lawmakers to resolve the backlog of pending White House nominations. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked the Senate for unanimous consent to approve a long list of nominees; no lawmakers objected.

CPB directors are appointed for six-year terms, but incoming members will serve less time because their board seats have been vacant for years. Joining the CPB board with terms expiring in 2016 are Jannette Dates of Baltimore, dean emerita of the Howard University School of Communications and a professor in the university’s Department of Radio, Television and Film; and Brent Nelsen of Greenville, S.C., professor of political science at Furman University and chair of the South Carolina Educational Television Commission.

The three remaining members’ terms expire in 2018: Bruce Ramer of Los Angeles, a former CPB Board chair and an entertainment and media attorney with the firm Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown; Howard Husock of New York City, vice president for policy research at the Manhattan Institute and former broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker at WGBH in Boston; and Lori Gilbert of Elko, Nev., a returning board member, news director of KENV-TV News 10 (Intermountain West Communications) and KELK-AM (Elko Broadcasting Company).

The confirmations fill all but one of the six CPB board seats that were vacant at the beginning of President Obama’s second term.

Rick Schneider, president of Miami’s WPBT, takes over as chief operating officer of WETA in Arlington, Va., next month.

Schneider succeeds longtime WETA exec Joe Bruns, who announced his retirement in April.



He reports to WETA President Sharon Rockefeller, who has worked with him on the PBS Board of Directors and other national organizations. “I know firsthand that Rick’s strong management experience is matched by his true dedication to public media,” Rockefeller said in a July 24 announcement. “He brings with him superb knowledge of the national public broadcasting landscape and the complexities of managing a major-market station, and he shares our profound commitment to public service.”

Schneider will supervise all senior managers as well as oversee WETA’s financial and administrative operations, local television and radio operations, fundraising, engineering and technical operations, communications, information technology, educational enterprises, and community and government relations.

Schneider has served two terms on the PBS Board, including as vice chair; he is also chair-elect of the Public Television Major Market Group and a past chair on the boards of Florida Public Broadcasting and the Pacific Mountain Network.

Later in his WPBT tenure, Schneider sold Nightly Business Report, the weeknightly news program that originated from the Miami station, to former instructional TV distributor Mykalai Kontilai. The deal, announced in 2010, allowed WPBT to remain the production hub and presenting station for NBR but proved unsustainable.

Prior to joining WPBT, Schneider was president and general manager of KNPB-TV in Reno, Nev., and station manager at WUFT-TV, the University of Florida’s public station in Gainesville.

Ron Bornstein of NETA Consulting conducted the national search.

Former NPR and KPCC host Madeleine Brand will soon helm a new midday show on KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif.



Brand, who left cross-town pubradio rival KPCC last summer after her show was recast to include a co-host, will join KCRW in mid-September to begin work on the hourlong program. She expects the show will begin airing shortly thereafter.

“I’m really excited and I love KCRW,” Brand said. “I’ve been a big fan for many years, so I’m really happy to work with them.”

Brand’s program, yet to be named, will be a host-driven, “news-based cultural show” in the vein of KPCC’s The Madeleine Brand Show, she said. She’ll return to the air as a solo host, as she was before KPCC management decided to pair her with A Martinez, a local ESPN broadcaster, an on-air match that lasted a month.

“It’s going to be a show that is set in Southern California, but it’s an aspirational place,” she said. “So what’s news here and of interest here culturally and in terms of news and trends is of interest to the rest of nation and the world.”

KCRW’s goals are “exactly right for the future of public radio,” she said. “They’re trying to get a mixture of news and culture that is going to be key in attracting younger audiences, and I’m really happy to be a part of that.”

An exact airtime has not been determined. Last year, Brand told Los Angeles Magazine that she had been discussing a 9 a.m. show with KCRW. That would have put the new show opposite Take Two, the successor to her KPCC show, and displaced KCRW’s morning music show, Morning Becomes Eclectic. But Brand told Current that the show is likely to air after noon, a time now occupied by news shows.

Ron Pisaneschi is the new general manager of Idaho Public Television.



The network’s content director, Pisaneschi was promoted Aug. 5 to succeed his boss Peter Morrill, who announced his retirement in March.

“Idaho PTV is fortunate to have someone with Ron’s passion for public television and expertise in programming and operations ready to step up and lead the organization,” said Don Soltman, Idaho State Board of Education president, in the July 24 announcement.

During his 28 years at Idaho PTV, Pisaneschi has directed public information, marketing and programming. He also served on the Public Television Programmers Association Board of Directors from 2002–07, including as president in 2006. He has been active on the PBS Children’s Advisory Committee, CPB’s Research Advisory Panel and several other national funding and programming panels.

“I am privileged to work with an amazing group of people who are dedicated to serving the public by providing engaging, educational programs and resources,” Pisaneschi said in the announcement.

Al Jazeera America has hired several journalists with public media experience to staff its U.S. news bureaus, flagship show America Tonight and its documentary unit.

The New York City–based AJA announced the bureaus and personnel July 31 in anticipation of the network’s Aug. 20 launch.

Amy Walters, an NPR veteran who reported from Afghanistan and Iraq, is joining AJA as a segment producer on America Tonight. Walters worked at the pubradio network as a production assistant, reporter and producer for 15 years, beginning as an intern in NPR’s Middle East bureau in 1998. Walters managed NPR’s bureau in Iraq in 2004, covered breaking domestic news such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in Louisiana and returned to the Middle East in 2011 to report on the Arab Spring. She won three Peabody Awards, a duPont-Columbia Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting.

Four former pubcasters reporting from AJA’s news bureaus are:

Ash-har Quraishi, AJA’s Chicago correspondent. Quraishi has reported for WTTW’s Chicago Tonight since 2011. Previously, he divided his reporting time between that program and the Chicago News Cooperative, the nonprofit newsroom that closed in February 2012. Quraishi won a regional Murrow Award for investigative journalism.

Jennifer London, reporting from Los Angeles. London was a correspondent on KCET’s SoCal Connected from September 2011 through March 2013. In 2012 she won several honors, including a duPont-Columbia Award, for “Courting Disaster,” a story that exposed an economic crisis at the Los Angeles Superior Court.



Robert Ray, filing from the New Orleans bureau. Ray, who recently reported for The Associated Press, previously worked at WTTW as an executive producer, videographer, editor and writer for Inside Chicago.

Libby Casey, AJA’s correspondent in Washington, D.C. She is a former host and producer for C-SPAN’s Washington Journal who also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network and for KUAC in Fairbanks.

In addition, Cynthia Kane, former program manager of Independent Television Service’s International Media Development Fund, is Al Jazeera America’s senior producer for its in-house documentary film unit. At ITVS, Kane managed more than 150 projects.

In January, Al Jazeera Media Network announced that it had purchased the cable network Current TV and planned to relaunch it as Al Jazeera America. AJA is a sister network to Al Jazeera English and the Arabic-language Al Jazeera, both 24-hour news channels are headquartered in Doha, Qatar.



Eric Deggans, a media critic at the Tampa Bay Times since 1995, will sign on as NPR’s television critic and correspondent, a new position, in October. Deggans has contributed to NPR programs for several years; his work also appears on Code Switch, NPR’s race, ethnicity and culture blog. Deggans is the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation. He was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists Aug. 2 with its 2013 Arts & Entertainment Task Force Legacy Award.

Scott Cameron, former senior producer of NPR’s recently canceled Talk of the Nation, is the new director of news and public affairs at Illinois Public Media in Urbana. The move marks a return to his alma mater; Cameron graduated from the city’s University of Illinois with a degree in broadcast journalism. He also worked as a producer and announcer at talk station WDWS-AM/WHMS-FM in Champaign, owned by the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette newspaper, as well as a producer for WGN Radio in Chicago. Kimberlie Kranich, director of community content and engagement at IPM, said Cameron’s background in Illinois and variety of experience in news and public affairs make him a good fit. “We look forward to his help in upping our game,” she said.

Actor Harry Shearer’s eclectic Le Show, dropped from the broadcast lineup of KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., in April, has landed on KCSN at California State University, Northridge. Nic Harcourt, former KCRW music director, also does a morning show there. KCRW discontinued Shearer’s program as part of an overhaul of its weekend schedule.

Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR and WNYC’s bar-trivia game show Ask Me Another, is taking her saucy memoir to the movies. According to Variety, Zucker Productions has acquired the film rights to Eisenberg’s memoir Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way To Monogamy, published earlier this year. In addition to her hosting gig, Eisenberg is also an actor, with credits in independent films and TV series such as Queer As Folk. Her memoir recounts her quest to say “yes” to everyone in the dating universe and how her anything-goes approach eventually led to finding a mate.



WCQS, Western North Carolina Public Radio in Asheville, has hired Greta Johnsen as local Morning Edition host and reporter. A native of Alaska, Johnsen most recently worked as a weekend host at Chicago’s WBEZ. Previously, she was operations manager and ME host at KUAC in Fairbanks.

Two local journalists are joining WBEZ in Chicago as morning and midday producers. Monica Eng spent 17 years at the Chicago Tribune as a culture, food and investigative reporter, and has also worked at the Daily Southtown and Sun-Times. She began work Aug. 5. Becky Vevea has covered schools for WBEZ on a temporary basis since April 2012 and just shared a first-place Public Radio News Directors Inc. Award for breaking news coverage of the Chicago teachers’ strike. She also covered education for the nonprofit Chicago News Cooperative and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Her reports have aired on Marketplace, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She starts as a full-time staffer Aug. 13.

Gregg Porter has returned once again to KUOW-FM as host of weekend programming. He first worked at the Seattle station from 1984–95 as music director and then as operations and production manager. He returned from 2007–08 to digitize “a huge chunk of KUOW’s analog archives,” Porter said, then again in the fall of 2012 as a fill-in announcer. Porter’s career in pubradio began at KCCK-FM in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1976. Between stints at KUOW, he said, he has been “a producer of CDs, a volunteer host of Hawaiian music radio shows, a music-for-business programmer and a broadcaster with Washington state’s radio-reading service.”



Public radio veteran Allen Bartholet is the new executive director and general manager of WMRA and WEMC in Harrisonburg, Va. Bartholet has worked in public radio since 1980. He was e.d. and g.m. at WKSU-FM in Kent, Ohio, from 1999 to 2012 and also spent 17 years as its development director. “Allen was selected because of his years of experience in public radio programming, leadership and development,” said Dietrich Maune, search committee chair. “This, along with his collaborative approach to station management and community relationships, made him the ideal candidate.”

Scott Wager retired July 31 as general manager of WDCB-FM after 32 years with the station at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill. A statement from the station said that Wager helped it “grow into the powerful beacon of jazz that it is now.” Wager and his wife Cheri “enjoy racing Scott’s stock car, visiting children who live on both coasts and puttering around the house,” it noted. “Scott is thankful that he will now have time to enjoy all of these activities.”

Georgia Public Broadcasting has named Andrew Dawson as station manager of its Augusta station, WACG, and host of GPB Augusta. Dawson is a 30-year radio veteran who recently worked as a host, news anchor and reporter for WGBH’s Boston Public Radio.

Dana Whitehair took over July 24 over as general manager for Delmarva Public Radio in Salisbury, Md., the dual-station operation that received a three-year extension to continue operating under licensee Salisbury University. Whitehair’s experience includes four years as g.m. of WNCW-FM at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, N.C. He also spent 17 years at KUT in Austin, Texas, 11 of those as manager of technical services. Most recently Whitehair was executive director of Foothills Connect Business & Technology Center, a nonprofit focused on expanding broadband service in western North Carolina. Delmarva’s WSDL in Ocean City, Md., and WSCL in Salisbury will soon move from their headquarters on the university campus to temporary facilities nearby, according to the hiring announcement. The university is building a new tower and replacing aging equipment. The SU Foundation will transfer licenses to the university, “where DPR is expected to form closer ties with SU academic programs,” the announcement said.


The Online News Association announced Aug. 1 its third class of MJ Bear Fellows, named for the public broadcaster and founding ONA board member who died in December 2010, seven months after a diagnosis of leukemia. The three fellows were chosen for their accomplishments in independent, community and corporate news from a slate of candidates from 18 countries. The fellows are: Kyle Stokes, a reporter for StateImpact Indiana, the news collaboration of WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., and Indiana Public Broadcasting; Armie Garde, an assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing in Cebu City, Philippines; and Ashley Lohmann, a freelance writer and editor for the Fair Observer, a crowdsourced media site, where she focuses on the Middle East. A professional digital journalist will mentor each fellow for one year, and each will receive a three-year ONA membership and an expense-paid trip to the Online News Association conference Oct. 17–19 in Atlanta.


David Felland has joined WUWM-FM in Milwaukee as chief engineer. Felland began his career at Minnesota Public Radio, where he won two Peabody Awards for radio technical direction. He most recently served as chief technology officer for KERA-FM, KKXT-FM and KERA-TV in Dallas. Felland also spent more than 20 years as director of engineering and operations at Milwaukee Public Television, and served as director of engineering and delivery services at the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. He currently chairs the International Electrotechnical Commission multimedia standards–setting committee.


KCETLink in Los Angeles has promoted two staffers. Palencia Turner, executive director of principal gifts, is now vice president of development; she leads member and viewer services, membership, special events and development. Ariel Carpenter moves up to vice president of communications from her previous role as executive director of communications. She continues to oversee advertising, marketing, media relations and corporate communications.

Daniel Ash will leave Chicago’s WBEZ in September to become chief marketing officer for the Chicago Community Trust. Ash is currently WBEZ’s v.p. of marketing and events, corporate sponsorship, membership and partnerships. He has worked at the station for nine years.

Please send People items to [email protected].
This article was first published in Current, Aug. 12, 2013.

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