Illinois stations end dual-CEO arrangement

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WTVP-TV in Peoria, Ill., is seeking its own CEO after ending a multiyear experiment sharing a leader with Illinois Public Media, 90 miles to the east in Urbana.

Moss Bresnahan has split his time as CEO for both stations since July 2014. His predecessor Chet Tomczyk also temporarily led the stations starting in 2013. The stations received a Collaborative Operations and Services Grant from CPB in 2014.

Moss Bresnahan, left, and WTVP Board Chair Andrew Rand host a pledge break in March 2018 at WTVP-TV in Peoria, Ill. (Photo: WTVP)

Bresnahan said that WTVP and dual licensee Illinois Public Media explored merging during his tenure. “In the end, WTVP felt it was important to maintain its independence and local control,” he said. The Peoria station is owned by an independent nonprofit; the University of Illinois holds Illinois Public Media’s radio and TV licenses.

Both stations are financially stable, Bresnahan said. “This is not a scenario where one station is financially stressed and needs a merger to stay in business,” he said. “After we fully explored the possibilities, we just came to the realization that a merger wasn’t the best solution.”

Bresnahan will assist in the search and help with the leadership transition at WTVP. He remains as CEO of Illinois Public Media.

While the management experiment has ended, the stations will increase their collaborative efforts, Bresnahan said.

Illinois Public Media Content Director David Thiel will still program both stations from Urbana. WTVP is also part of Illinois Newsroom, a regional reporting cooperative based at Illinois Public Media. A new documentary series, Reel Midwest, airs on both stations. And the stations will cooperate more on educational services, program co-productions and grant writing.

Bresnahan also said that “if the day ever comes that the stations want to revisit the idea of merging, they know exactly what’s involved and how it would work. It could be revisited very easily.”

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