PBS lays off six staffers, offers voluntary retirement packages

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PBS is laying off six staffers in a reorganization and offering voluntary retirement packages to certain longtime employees.

PBS President Paula Kerger and COO Jonathan Barzilay informed member station general managers of the changes in an email Monday. “Keeping PBS and stations both relevant and competitive are at the center of our plans,” the email said. “This includes creating an effective organization with resources invested in the right places to succeed.”

Anne Bentley, PBS spokesperson, told Current that “while budget is always a consideration, these changes are not cost-saving measures.”



One top PBS executive gets a new title and responsibilities. Former Senior Vice President, Station Services, Juan Sepúlveda becomes s.v.p., system leadership, reporting to Kerger. Sepúlveda will continue to oversee the Executive Leadership Network as well as consult with stations on diversity and organizational planning.

The six layoffs are in the digital and marketing department. Bentley said PBS does not disclose names of staffers who have been laid off.

A new digital and marketing vice president will also be hired to oversee the creative services unit.

In addition, Ira Rubenstein, s.v.p. and g.m., digital and marketing, has reassigned some responsibilities:

  • Don Wilcox, v.p., digital marketing and services, now oversees marketing, social and digital content as well as the PBS Digital Studios team;
  • Karen Baile, v.p., PBS Digital strategy and operations, will create three teams within the business intelligence group “to better connect data to decision-making,” according to the email. Those teams will focus on digital analytics, strategic insights and program analysis across platforms; and
  • Max Duke, director of the digital station products and innovations team, moves under the digital strategy and operations group.

Roles and reporting structures also change in other departments.

  • Thomas Crockett, station services v.p., continues to lead those efforts and now reports to Barzilay instead of Sepúlveda. Crockett’s responsibilities include interacting with member stations on national/local strategies, the new interconnection platform and Passport;
  • The conference services team, which plans the PBS Annual Meeting and other events, reports to Bentley in corporate communications. Previously, those staffers reported to Crockett; and
  • Administration reports to Jayme Swain, s.v.p., strategy and operations. That department previously reported to Barbara Landes, chief financial officer, treasurer and s.v.p., corporate services.

The voluntary retirement plan is available to all nonunion employees over the age of 65 who have been at PBS at least 20 years.

Bentley said there is no target for the number of voluntary retirements.

Correction: This post has been updated to correct Duke’s group assignment.

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