Comings and goings: PBS promotes Simensky, newsroom expands in Hawaii …

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PBS announced Tuesday that it has promoted Linda Simensky to head of PBS Kids content, a new position. 


“Simensky will lead the development of a multi-platform video content strategy for PBS KIDS, designed to respond to the quickly evolving media environment and meet the needs of current and future viewers,” PBS said in a release. “In this expanded role, she will spearhead new, experimental approaches for emerging platforms to engage kids and support their learning, developing a slate of content that represents the next generation of children.”

Simensky was previously VP of children’s programming. She joined PBS in 2003 after working in animated programming at Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. She also teaches college courses on animation at the University of Pennsylvania, her alma mater.

Hawaii Public Radio in Honolulu announced several additions to its news team.

Hawaii native Ashley Mizuo has joined the station as a general assignment/community reporter. Mizuo most recently worked as a statehouse reporter in Illinois and was an editorial fellow for Washingtonian magazine in Washington, D.C. She also hosted Work Sucks, a podcast in which she asked people about their worst days at work. 

Jason Ubay and Harrison Patiño were hired as producers for The Conversation, HPR’s local public affairs show. Ubay was managing editor of Hawaii Business magazine for five years and later covered tourism and financial institutions for Pacific Business News. Patiño has worked part-time for HPR over the past two years as a board operator and host. 

The station also promoted Ryan Finnerty to government and public policy reporter. He was previously a producer and reporter for The Conversation.


WNET in New York City named Melinda Toporoff series producer of Cyberchase, the PBS Kids animated math series. Toporoff most recently worked as an independent content creator and development and production executive serving as president and EP for Topsy Media. She also guided production and development at History, Animal Planet and Discovery Kids, Walt Disney Animation and Nickelodeon. She started her career in kids programming as a writer’s assistant at Sesame Workshop.

Sinduja Rangarajan joined Mother Jones in San Francisco as senior data journalist. Rangarajan previously worked as a data reporter and Google Fellow for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting for four years.

David Polk is leaving his position as PD of WFMT-FM in Chicago to move to New York. “I feel so fortunate to have worked at a place where the water cooler talk is about the arts and artists,” he wrote on Facebook. “… But it’s time to move on and I’m excited for this change, something I’ve been thinking about for a while.”

Bianca Martin is leaving her position as a producer for 1A. She is moving to Chicago to become a talk producer at WBEZ.

Michael Corey has left Reveal to become a news developer with the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. He was a senior data editor with Reveal.

Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp., which operates public radio stations WESA and WYEP, has hired Erin Keane Scott as director, audiences and brand strategy. She was formerly director of marketing and communications for the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Scott has also served as managing editor for Pop City Media in Pittsburgh and as an editorial assistant at Washingtonian

Brittany Sweeney, a reporter for PBS39 in Bethlehem, Pa., will serve as an “expert in residence” with the communications program at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., for the 2019–20 academic year. She will work on projects with students and staff and play a role in two educational events. “I am excited to share my experiences while also learning from the students,” Sweeney said in a press release.



Cincinnati Public Radio hired Julie York Coppens as educational outreach coordinator. She will focus on growing the organization’s two primary outreach efforts, Classics for Kids and Democracy and Me. Coppens previously worked on creative projects with cultural and educational nonprofits in Juneau, Alaska, for seven years, including KTOO Public Media, Juneau Public Libraries, Juneau Alaska Music Matters and the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council.  She served 12 years on the national publications staff of the Educational Theatre Association and was a senior editor of Dramatics magazine and director of Thespian Playworks, a playwriting program for high-school students.  


Sharon Maeda, manager of low-power FM station KVRU in Seattle, has joined the board of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Maeda has been involved in community radio and media advocacy for 40 years, starting with the position of station manager of KRAB-FM in Seattle. She later served as executive director of Pacifica Radio and was a member of the early NFCB Steering Committee and the Public Radio Satellite Interconnection System Charitable Trust, for which she continues to serve. In 1993 she was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since 1988 she has also owned a consulting firm, Spectra Communications, that provides communications services to communities of color and the agencies that serve them.

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