PBS Board election goes to tie-breaker, Tomczyk takes on leadership of second station, and more . . .

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After resolving the first-ever tie in one of its elections, the PBS Board is welcoming four directors.

Joining for three-year terms starting Nov. 6 are new directors Shae Hopkins, executive director of KET, Lexington, Ky.; and Rich Homberg, president of WTVS in Detroit. Two incumbents — Tom Axtell, g.m. of Vegas PBS in Las Vegas, and JoAnn Urofsky, chief executive of WUSF in Tampa, Fla.—were re-elected.

Homberg had tied in voting with Kliff Kuehl, president of KCPT in Kansas City, Mo., according to Katherine Lauderdale, PBS general counsel and corporate secretary.

The board’s governance committee determined the winner Sept. 4 with a blind draw of Homberg’s name by Molly Corbett Broad, general vice chair of the PBS Board. To provide transparency, PBS produced a video stream of the draw so that candidates could witness the process; it also posted an archived video for members.

Chet Tomczyk, president of WTVP in Peoria, Ill., is now serving double-duty as interim general manager of Illinois Public Media in Urbana.



Tomczyk, who has been with WTVP for 19 years, began managing WILL as of Sept. 3, stepping in for previous station chief Mark Leonard, now head of Nebraska Educational Telecommunications in Lincoln.

“This collaboration offers an unprecedented opportunity for two neighboring public broadcasting entities to jointly increase their relevance and value to the many communities they serve,” Tomczyk said in the announcement.

“WILL and WTVP have strong programming and community support, and will retain their independence,” said University of Illinois College of Media Dean Jan Slater. “This unique cooperative administrative arrangement increases the opportunities to broaden the collaborative efforts that are already under way between the two stations, benefiting the viewing audiences and communities across the coverage area.”

The stations are 90 miles apart in central Illinois.

Julie Shapiro, artistic director and co-founder of the Third Coast International Audio Festival, will exit the multiplatform audio storytelling curator in November.



“I thought long and hard (and then longer, and harder) about this,” Shapiro wrote in the Aug. 28 announcement, “but ultimately realized it’s time to move on and try something different with the next phase of my life.”

Shapiro and Johanna Zorn, e.d., founded the Chicago-based Third Coast in 2000; its biennial Filmless Festival draws thousands of audiophiles. Shapiro came up with the concept for Third Coast’s popular ShortDocs Challenge, which asks participants to make mini-documentaries while following quirky rules such as using a color in the title or including three seconds of “narrative silence.” The organization also hosts a conference for audio producers in the festival’s off years and produces a weekly podcast and radio program.

“Julie’s artistic vision, keen wit and deft writing skills are evident at every turn,” Zorn said in an email to producers. “Likewise, Julie has been the consummate ambassador for Third Coast, forging lasting relationships in her international travels.”

Amy Tardif of WGCU-FM in Fort Myers, Fla., is the first woman in pubradio to chair the Radio Television Digital News Association.



RTDNA named Tardif chair-elect Aug. 26 during its annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

She’ll lead planning of next year’s conference in Nashville, Tenn.

The association represents journalists in broadcasting, cable and digital media in more than 30 countries. Tardif previously served as an RTDNA regional director.

Tardif, news director at WGCU-FM for 12 years, has won numerous local, state, regional and national awards, including a Peabody in 2011.

Former RTDNA chair Vincent Duffy, news director of Michigan Radio at the University of Michigan, moves on to chair the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, which provides training programs, seminars, scholarships and research to electronic news professionals.

Alberto Álvaro Ríos, host of Books & Co. on KAET-TV in Phoenix, is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate.



Ríos will spend two years traveling the state, conducting public readings and working on a literacy education project, according to the Arizona Commission on the Arts. The commission, along with Gov. Janice Brewer’s office, announced the appointment Aug. 23.

As host of the weekly half-hour Books & Co., Ríos interviews a diverse range of authors. Being the state’s poet laureate “will underscore the importance of these wonderful discussions with authors, supporting the sensibility that points to language at its best, whether in books or in conversation or in classrooms,” Ríos said in the announcement. The program, which he has hosted since 2009, has aired for 20 years.

“Alberto relates to his guests in a way that goes far beyond the normal host-and-interviewee relationship,” said Suzanne Guery, series producer. “He engages authors in conversation about their work and the craft of writing in a way that equally impresses first-timers and seasoned professionals.”

Ríos is the author of 10 books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories and a memoir. His work has been recognized with the Walt Whitman Award, the Western States Book Award for fiction and six Pushcart Prizes in poetry and fiction; it’s also been included in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry and more than 300 other national and international literary anthologies.

The appointment makes Arizona the 43rd state with a poet or writer laureate position.

Dave Hayes, a former editor at WLIW-TV in Long Island, N.Y., is requesting donations to help with the costs of his decade-long treatment for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

“I never thought I would be doing something like this but my situation is rapidly putting me in a dire situation financially,” Hayes writes on his page at GoFundMe.com/cancer-costs. “I’m afraid of losing my home and/or not being able to afford my medications.”

Hayes has been fighting the disease since doctors detected a tumor on his spine in 2002. A second tumor appeared in 2010, and by August 2012 the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.

At the station, where he worked from 1998 to 2010, Hayes edited the first Visions travelogues of Southern Italy, Northern Italy, Sicily and France. Shot in high-definition from a helicopter-mounted camera, the programs still air nationwide. He also edited pledge programming and worked as technical director and editor for pledge-event shoots.

Laura Savini, a fundraising consultant and former WLIW marketing v.p., described Hayes as an editor who “went beyond making the pledge breaks look good; he made them more effective.”

“Even while he was getting treatments,” Savini said, “he would sit in that edit suite, noticeably uncomfortable but committed to the station and our national fundraising efforts.”


NPR’s Ari Shapiro will end his stint covering the White House and head abroad in January 2014 to report from London, the network announced Aug. 27. Shapiro will replace Philip Reeves, who will become NPR’s Islamabad correspondent. Shapiro has covered the White House for NPR since 2010. He joined the network in 2003 and reported from Miami, Boston and Atlanta, then went on to cover national security and counterterrorism. In 2012 he followed presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the campaign trail. He has also guest-hosted Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he has a side gig singing with the band Pink Martini. Reeves’s arrival in Islamabad will give NPR its first permanent correspondent in the Pakistani capital since 2012, when Julie McCarthy, who opened the bureau in 2009, left for New Delhi.



Luke Burbank, public radio veteran and seersucker-suit fan, is the new host of Live Wire!, an eclectic music and comedy pubradio variety show originating from the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, Ore. Departing host Courtenay Hameister continues to contribute to the show as head writer and producer, and periodically performs essays on the show. “It’s a strange thing to sit at the producer’s table and watch someone else do the job you had for nine years,” she told Current, “but in the six shows since I quit I never once had a moment where I wished it were me. That’s how I knew I’d made the right decision.” Burbank recently left The Ross and Burbank Show and The Luke Burbank Show on KIRO-FM in Seattle. He’s a panelist and fill-in host on Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! and has appeared on This American Life and CBS Sunday Morning. He also hosts the popular daily podcast Too Beautiful to Live, and in 2007 spent two months hosting NPR’s experimental morning show The Bryant Park Project. “We couldn’t have asked for a better host to move us into our 10th anniversary year,” said Live Wire! E.P. Robyn Tenenbaum in the announcement. “He’s extremely smart, charming and funny, and owns some really nice suits, so we’re thrilled.”

Bob Smith, part of the news team at WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., since 1988, is stepping down as producer of the midday radio talk show 1370 Connection. Smith suffered a stroke in April and is currently in long-term rehabilitative care, according to the station. During his WXXI tenure, Smith interviewed newsmakers such as Hillary Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani, Mario Cuomo, Charles Keating, Philip Roth and B.B. King as well as many local leaders. A special two-hour tribute broadcast is planned for mid-October.

Idaho Reports, the statewide legislative program in its fourth decade on Idaho Public Television, has two new co-hosts, Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz. Davlin is a former reporter for the Times-News in Twin Falls, where she covered the last two sessions of the state legislature and wrote feature stories. Kunz worked on Idaho Reports last year, reporting on the environment and natural-resource topics. He is also a producer for EarthFix, a public media project of several Northwest public TV and radio outlets.



Moss Bresnahan, president of KCTS Television in Seattle, resigned Aug. 29. “My reasons for making this very difficult decision are deeply personal — to attend to family-related issues that have arisen,” Bresnahan said in a note to public television managers. “I’m so proud of our many accomplishments to date, and I know that KCTS is poised for even greater things in the coming year.” Prior to his arrival in Seattle, in November 2008, Bresnahan served as president of South Carolina ETV and WVPT in Harrisonburg, Va. He also spent six years as a board member of the International Public Television Screening Conference. The KCTS Board tapped Rob Dunlop, e.v.p. of operations at Fisher Communications in Seattle, to lead the station on an interim basis. Dunlop has been with Fisher more than two decades, holding a range of positions in radio, television and digital initiatives.

Rachel Osier Lindley took over as news director at WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 1. In her new position, she oversees the news team and works with local, regional and national content partners to produce on-air and online content. She comes to the station from Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Texas, where she held the same title and served as local Morning Edition host. Previously, she was Marfa’s programming and production manager, office manager and production assistant and intern.


Mary Mitchelson, former deputy inspector general at the U.S. Department of Education, has taken over as CPB inspector general, succeeding Kenneth Konz, who has retired. The CPB Board selected Mitchelson for the position, which is responsible for promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness; preventing fraud, waste and mismanagement in CPB programs and operations; and independently auditing CPB’s internal operations and external grantees. Mitchelson has been with the Department of Education’s I.G. office since 2000. She began as assistant inspector general for analysis and inspections, progressing to counsel in 2002 and deputy i.g. in 2008. Her work prior to the Education Department includes time as an assistant dean at the Georgetown University Law Center, and as a clerk for Judge Harold Greene, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Konz held the CPB i.g. post since 1998.

Dick Cook, a former chair of Walt Disney Studios, now chairs the KCETLink Board of Directors. As Disney chair from 2002–09, Cook oversaw development, production, distribution and marketing for all live-action and animated films released by Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax worldwide. Since January 2010 he has served as board vice-chair of KCETLink, the merged nonprofit media organization comprising Los Angeles pubTV station KCET and satellite broadcaster Link TV.

John Anthony Wolf, chair of the Baltimore law firm Ober Kaler, is the new chair of the MPT Foundation, the fundraising arm of Maryland Public Television. Other new officers are vice-chairs Carole Sibel, a community volunteer, and Nettie Johnson, vice president, communications, at Lockheed Martin. Kip Mandris, a Baltimore-area public relations consultant, was re-elected secretary, and William McCarthy Jr., executive director of Associated Catholic Charities, returns as treasurer.

WQED-TV Executive Producer David Solomon is the new president of the board of governors for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Mid-Atlantic chapter. He previously served as awards chair for four years and as a17governor-at-large for two years. Mid-Atlantic NATAS includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The PBS SoCal Board of Trustees recently elected new leaders. Incoming chair is Robert Manuson, a former top editor of the Los Angeles Times Business section and founder of the Orange County–based communications firm Magnuson & Co. He has served on the board since 2009. New vice chair is S. Paul Musco, board co-chair since 2009. He is founder of Gemini Industries Inc., a defense consultant. Outgoing co-chair JoEllen Chatham, director of public affairs for Southern California Edison, will remain on the board’s executive committee.



University Station Alliance (USA), a nonprofit affinity group for pubradio stations licensed to educational institutions, selected new board leadership during its July 24 meeting. President is John Hess, g.m. of Boise State Public Radio, who also serves as a board treasurer for Western States Public Radio; Kerry Swanson, vice president, is station manager of Northwest Public Radio at Washington State University in Pullman; and Chuck Singleton, treasurer, manages WFUV in New York City, public radio from Fordham University. Returning as board secretary is Tom Hunt, e.d. of WCBU at Bradley University, Peoria, Ill. The alliance also re-elected three board members: Caryn Mathes, g.m. of WAMU at American University in Washington, D.C., and a founder of USA; Madison Hodges, g.m. of WQCS in Fort Pierce, Fla., and previous USA president and e.d.; and Connie Walker, g.m. of North Carolina Public Radio in Chapel Hill.

Three new directors have joined the board of KCTS in Seattle, replacing members whose terms expired. Mary Snapp, corporate v.p. and deputy general counsel of the products and services division in Microsoft’s law and corporate affairs department; Matt Chan, development consultant and a founding partner of Screaming Flea Productions (creators of the reality show Hoarders); and Michael Hughes, e.v.p., Liberty Mutual Commercial Insurance, and president, Business Insurance.


Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, N.Y., has hired four new development staffers. Directing fundraising and business development is Janine Scherline, former e.d. of the local North Country Cultural Center for the Arts. Previously, she served as coordinator for the Adirondack Arts in Education Partnership. Major gifts and corporate sponsor coordinator is Diane Germano, who previously supervised major gifts for the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. Sharon Bainbridge, membership and volunteer coordinator, has a background in primary and college education as well as expertise in database and information technology management. And Linda Carpenter is corporate marketing representative; she has 15 years of advertising sales, marketing and event planning experience.

Shane Rhyne is the new development director at East Tennessee PBS in Knoxville. Most recently Rhyne was digital strategies manager at Ackermann PR, where he helped clients develop digital marketing and outreach strategies. His broadcast career includes stints as news director and morning news co-anchor at the former local university licensee WUTK-AM, and volunteer announcer and programmer for community licensed WDVX-FM in Clinton, Tenn.


Nancy Zintak, v.p. of marketing and communications at Georgia Public Broadcasting, has accepted a position with Caron Treatment Centers, a nonprofit addiction treatment provider. Zintak told Current she will develop a regional office in the Southeast to serve as a center for education, resources and referrals, as well as a community meeting place for those affected by addiction. Zintak arrived at the Atlanta-based network in 2008 as communications and marketing manager, and rose to her current position in 2009. “My work at GPB has been challenging, exciting, illuminating and, most of all, gratifying,” she said. She will continue as supervising producer on Georgia Traveler through March 2014.

Lisa Martinez is retiring from Western Reserve Public Media after 27 years with the Kent, Ohio, stations. She arrived in 1986 at WNEO and WEAO, as the stations were identified prior to a 2006 rebranding, to work as a public information assistant when she was just out of graduate school. She was promoted several times over the years before being named v.p. of marketing and development in 2004. “In the past seven years alone, she has increased individual membership giving by 18 percent,” said Trina Cutter, station president. “This is no easy feat when your business model depends on donations.”



Pioneer Public Television in Appleton, Minn., hired Patrick Moore as communications coordinator. The station serves western Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and eastern South Dakota. Moore worked there nearly three decades ago as outreach and community relations representative, producing and selling training videos for area businesses. Most recently, he served as executive director of CURE (Clean Up the River Environment) in Montevideo, Minn. In his new position, Moore will focus on community relations and promoting local programs.

The new director of communications at the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica is Nicole Collins Bronzan. She arrives from the national marriage-rights group Freedom to Marry, where she worked in a similar capacity. From 2003–09 she worked at the New York Times as an assistant metro editor, where she helped edit the City Room blog and managed coverage of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and urban arts. She begins her ProPublica duties Sept. 16, replacing Mike Webb, who is relocating to Hawaii in late September.


Digital journalism entrepreneur Lisa Williams has joined the Investigative News Network as director of digital engagement. She won a 2007 Knight News Challenge award for Placeblogger.com, a searchable index of local weblogs that she developed; and, as a fellow at the MIT Media Lab, she specialized in the future of news and civic engagement. At INN, Williams works with members on audience engagement strategies, fundraising and revenue development, and on using technology to create high-impact journalism. She is based in Cambridge, Mass., reporting to Kevin Davis, INN c.e.o., at INN headquarters in Los Angeles.



New Hampshire Public Radio has promoted Rebecca Lavoie, former senior producer on the midday show Word of Mouth, to the new position of digital director. Lavoie will oversee website, social media and application development, direct content creation for digital platforms and manage online listener engagement projects. Lavoie directed Word of Mouth’s digital media presence, and produced stories on media and new technology. She joined the station in 2010 after co-authoring three nonfiction true-crime books and writing freelance articles for print and online publications including the Concord Monitor, Newsweek and Playboy.

Melody Joy Kramer, who left her spot as Fresh Air’s social media manager in 2012 to attend medical school, has returned to pubcasting as an associate editor/digital strategist for NPR. She works with NPR shows and desks to build connections with listeners and increase engagement with a wider audience through new platforms. Before her two years with Fresh Air at WHYY, Kramer was director and associate producer for Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! from May 2007 to November 2008. She was also a Kroc Fellow at NPR.


Community-licensed KRCL-FM in Salt Lake City is welcoming two staffers to its business team. Susan Spivey handles corporate underwriting, bringing more than 20 years of media sales and marketing experience to her post. Her previous jobs include account executive at the local JES Publishing and KOSY-FM. Lisa Chandler, a CPA, is accounting manager. She is the former CFO of the St. Benedict’s Foundation in Ogden, Utah, which supports programs for women, children, families and the poor. She is also co-owner of Dinner’s Ready, an Ogden-based catering company, and taught as an adjunct professor at Weber State University, also in Ogden. “The addition of Susan and Lisa strengthens KRCL’s nonprofit business model and will ensure the station’s viability as a strong community organization for years to come,” said KRCL G.M. Vicki Mann.

Creative services

Filmmaker and designer Hiawatha Bradley is KCETLink’s new creative services director, overseeing design, branding and on-air promotions. Bradley consulted for Link TV in San Francisco before the satellite broadcaster merged with Los Angeles pubcaster KCET. He also worked in New York on film projects for public stations WNET and WNYC. Bradley reports to Ariel Carpenter, communications v.p.


Cheryl Head of Livingston Associates, a Baltimore-based executive-search, strategy and coaching service for public media, has published a historical fiction e-book, Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, which she spent five years researching and writing. On her website, Head said she was inspired by conversations with a friend’s aunt, who served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and her own father, who was a private in the Transportation Corps, a combat service support branch of the U.S. Army. The tale “has romance, conflict, celebration, humor and also detail about the tenor and tone of a segregated Army experience that is a microcosm of the Negro experience in 1940s America,” Head said. It is available as a download on Amazon.com.

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This article was first published in Current, Sept. 9, 2013.

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