Suarez sets exit date from NewsHour, Keith heading for White House, Cruz running KVCR and more . . .

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Ray Suarez, chief national correspondent for PBS NewsHour, is leaving the weeknightly news show Oct. 25 after 14 years.



Executive Producer Linda Winslow told staff in an Oct. 11 memo that Suarez will exit to “pursue several other ventures,” including writing a book.

News of the veteran pubcaster’s decision came three days after NewsHour founders Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil announced their intention to transfer ownership of the program to presenting station and producing partner WETA in Arlington, Va.

“At the NewsHour, Ray has been a member of the senior correspondent team that has helped us cover an enormous array of topics . . . and story developments over the years,” Winslow wrote in the memo, adding: “My Inbox is filled with rave reviews of his performances written by delighted station executives around the PBS universe.”

Suarez joined NewsHour in October 1999 from NPR, where he hosted Talk of the Nation for six years. Previously Suarez reported from Los Angeles for CNN, produced for the ABC Radio Network in New York and reported for CBS Radio in Rome.

At NewsHour Suarez led global health coverage, reporting from Africa, Latin America and Asia. As a sideline, he also narrated, anchored and reported many documentaries for public radio and television. Suarez also took on several earlier book projects while reporting for the NewsHour. His latest, Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation (Celebra Trade), was published in September as a companion volume to the PBS series.

Recently, he was deeply involved with the CPB-backed American Graduate dropout prevention project, moderating town hall meetings and reporting on education topics.

In 2010 Suarez was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

In her memo, Winslow noted Suarez’s dedication to his craft. “He never complains about slogging through mud and swarms of mosquitoes in search of a story, or traveling in coach for 16 hours, or not having had a decent meal in 24 hours,” she wrote to colleagues. “And while I don’t know if there’s a connection, he was hardly ever sick or MIA when we’ve needed him. In short, I wish there were more people like Ray Suarez in this world — and I, for one, am going to miss him very much.”

NPR’s Tamara Keith transitions from reporting on Congress to covering the White House early next year.

She joins Scott Horsley and Mara Liasson on the executive-branch beat as Ari Shapiro becomes the network’s foreign correspondent reporting from London.



After completing a previous assignment reporting from the 2012 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Keith will travel with President Obama in her new role.

Keith joined NPR in 2009 as a business reporter, delving into policy debates, legal issues and technology trends. In 2011, she conceived and reported the yearlong NPR series The Road Back to Work, centered on audio diaries of six St. Louis residents who were unemployed at the beginning of the series.

She became NPR’s Congressional reporter in August 2011, and traveled with candidate Mitt Romney leading into the 2012 Republican presidential primaries; NPR elevated her to correspondent status early this year.

Keith began her career at KQED in San Francisco and later worked at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and KPCC-FM in Pasadena, Calif. In her spare time, she plays softball for the Bad News Babes, a media team that competes annually against women in Congress.

Alfredo Cruz has stepped up to run dual licensee KVCR, becoming the third g.m. at the San Bernardino, Calif., station in less than two years.

Alfredo Cruz

Alfredo Cruz

The veteran pubcaster has worked as an engineer, journalist, producer, news editor, production manager, music director and assistant g.m. Most recently, he served as president of KUVO-FM in Denver, facilitating this year’s merger with Rocky Mountain PBS and the nonprofit investigative I-News Network (Current, Feb. 1).

Previously Cruz managed Trinity University’s KRTU-FM in San Antonio. He spent several years on NPR’s Peabody Award–winning Jazz Alive! program, worked at United Nations Radio in New York and taught college courses.

He takes over for Kenn Couch, an interim g.m. who was placed on administrative leave Sept. 30 by officials with licensee San Bernardino Community College District, who didn’t explain the leadership change. The previous g.m., Larry Ciecalone, left under similar circumstances in May 2012, two months after he was placed on leave.

Two key development posts are among six recent hires by dual licensee WCNY in Syracuse, N.Y.

Michael Kite now directs corporate support, overseeing daily operations of that team and developing strategies for meeting the station’s underwriting goals. Previously, Kite was senior director of corporate relations at the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, Va., and also worked in development and marketing at First Book, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that provides access to new books for children in need.

Directing membership is Rebecca Resig, responsible for supervising all membership strategies and services. She formerly was development director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse, and an account manager at United Way of Central New York.

Three additional staff join the fundraising team. Sheila Golden and Kimberly Paninski are working as auction sales representatives. Golden previously was with Bank of America as a licensed investment specialist; Paninski is a Realtor. And Jeffrey Sydney has been named account executive. Sydney had worked in sales at Time Warner Cable.

And WCNY’s new family literacy and instructional coordinator is Renee Ames, who spent eight years as a teacher for the Baldwinsville (N.Y.) Central School District.



BaBette Davidson, programmer for The Programming Service for Public Television, has been promoted to senior v.p. “BaBette has worked for more than 13 years as v.p.,” said Michael Seymour, president, “and has been instrumental in growing our client base, building strong relationships with stations across the country and heightening our overall level of customer service.” Davidson frequently appears as on-air talent on national PBS fundraising programming, and serves on the PBS Kids Advisory Group and the PBS Content Services Committee. Prior to joining the Florida-based programming consultancy in 2000, she managed programming for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Founded in 1996, The Programming Service for Public Television currently serves 22 PBS client stations, providing advice for strategic program scheduling and on-air fundraising.

Bill Nigut, chief political reporter for Cox Media’s WSB-TV in Atlanta for 20 years, joins Georgia Public Broadcasting next month as senior executive producer for On the Story, a half-hour broadcast and digital project premiering in January that will cover education, the arts, politics, science, commerce, e-business, technology and medicine.

Journalist Andrés Caballero is the fourth recipient of the Above the Fray Fellowship, sponsored by NPR and the John Alexander Project. Caballero, who recently reported for the NPR-distributed Latino USA, will spend three months in Cameroon to cover a fast-growing local Pentecostal movement and its recent clashBes with the government. His reports will run early next year on NPR and Caballero also is currently co-directing a documentary feature film that follows a Patagonian sheepherder recruited to work in an isolated area of Idaho. The Above the Fray Fellowship was first presented in 2010 in memory of John Alexander, a young journalist who once worked for NPR and died of sudden heart failure in 2007 while on assignment for the Koppel On Discovery series in Chongqing, China. The fellowship gives promising journalists the opportunity to cover important but underreported stories overseas.



Broadcast journalist Brandis Griffith Friedman makes her debut Oct. 21 as a correspondent for WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.

She previously spent two years freelancing for WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, where she anchored; produced, wrote and voiced news stories; conducted interviews; and researched stories for daily newscasts.

Earlier, she was a special projects producer, fill-in reporter and co-host for WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C.; served as deputy communications director for the House Committee on Science and Technology; and reported for NBC affiliates in Little Rock, Ark., and Wichita Falls, Kan.


WYES-TV in New Orleans has promoted two of its longest-serving employees. Beth Arroyo Utterback is now executive v.p. and c.o.o., rising from director of broadcasting. Utterback has been with the station for 32 years, overseeing all programming, local and national productions, promotion, special projects and community outreach. And Robin Cooper is the v.p. of development, moving up from director of individual giving. Cooper joined WYES in 1989 as an associate producer and later served as membership manager, creating more than 20 successful local cooking marathons.



Two managers have been elevated at KPLU-FM in Seattle.

Joey Cohn, assistant g.m./director of content, is now executive director/music. He’s working to distribute the station’s music content into more local, national and international services, and earn more revenues from those endeavors to build financial support for jazz and blues programming.

Cohn continues to serve as KPLU’s p.d.

And Jennifer Strachan moves up from assistant g.m./director of public media to executive director/news. Strachan joined KPLU in 2008 and has extensive experience in television and multimedia production as well as management. In her new role, Strachan oversees KPLU’s news department and leads its digital and mobile services, working with the news director and online managing editor.


Gina Dragutinovich is now director of corporate sponsorship sales for Market Enginuity, representing WUWM-FM in Milwaukee. Dragutinovich trains the sales staff to develop new business while growing and maintaining current clients. Most recently, she was corporate development representative with Wisconsin Public Radio, and previously held advertising positions with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s entertainment weekly, MKE, and Wisconsin Trails magazine.

Jay Hiselman has joined WGBH in Boston as director of sponsorship research. He’s working with both the national sales team, under the umbrella of the Sponsorship Group for Public Television, and the local sales staff. Hiselman has more than 20 years experience in market research and analytics. He was a senior manager at marketing agency Hill Holliday in Boston.

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This article was first published in Current, Oct. 21, 2013.

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