Comings and goings: PBS names Bugg programming VP, de la Torre joins New England collaborative …

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Sylvia Bugg has been named VP of programming at PBS. She will report to Perry Simon, PBS chief programming executive and GM for general audience programming. She starts Feb. 10.


Bugg most recently served as VP of diversity and television content at CPB. Prior to joining CPB in 2014, she was a director of general audience programming at PBS, where she led efforts to develop a portfolio of drama, performance and cultural programs. She also held several programming roles in history and public affairs at PBS from 1993 to 1999. Outside of public media, Bugg worked for Discovery Communications from 1999 to 2012.

“We’re excited to welcome Sylvia back to PBS. Her extensive background in strategic, mission-based content, paired with her knowledge of the public media system, will be invaluable as we continue to provide programming that reflects our diverse audience and the local communities we serve,” Simon said.

Bugg will oversee the general audience programming editorial team and lead strategy across news, public affairs, documentaries, history, science, natural history and arts programs, according to a spokesperson. After PBS promoted VP of Programming and Operations Jim Dunford to SVP, Station Services, “we reevaluated the department needs and created a VP of Programming position to oversee our talented editorial team,” the spokesperson added. Marie Nelson, former VP of news and public affairs, left for ABC News last summer.

Vanessa de la Torre is the new executive editor of the New England News Collaborative. 

de la Torre

The new editor of the eight-station consortium of public media newsrooms succeeds John Dankosky, who stepped down in November after accepting a voluntary buyout offered by the station. Her first day was Jan. 6. A CPB-backed hiring effort to expand diversity in coverage led to de la Torre being hired by WNPR in Hartford, Conn., in 2018 to cover race issues. She was also a supervising producer for the station in 2019 for “Collision Course,” a documentary. Previously, de la Torre wrote for the Hartford Courant and Tampa Bay Times and interned at the Imperial Valley Press in El Centro, Calif., and the Washington Post.

Connecticut Public, a member of the New England News Collaborative, announced changes to programs and added two staff members to its content and visuals team.

Lucy Nalpathanchil will become a host on The Wheelhouse, a politics show and podcast. Colin McEnroe will keep his seat as co-host. Nalpathanchil is now EP and host of Where We Live, a call-in talk show about Connecticut issues. She joined Connecticut Public as an assignment editor in 2006. She was also a reporter and host for WJCT Public Broadcasting in Jacksonville, Fla.; WNED and WBFO in Buffalo, N.Y.; and WDUQ (now WESA) in Pittsburgh.

Morgan Springer has been named the new host of Next, a weekly show featuring reporting from the New England News Collaborative. Previously a producer for the show, she has also worked as news director at Interlochen Public Radio in Michigan, where she launched and co-hosted Points North, a weekly show.

Julianne Varacchi becomes visuals director. She previously worked for ESPN as senior photo editor for digital and print platforms. She was also a photo librarian for WGBH in Boston. Joe Amon becomes visual editor on the team. He joined the Denver Post as a staff photographer in 2008. He was also a senior photographer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Arizona Public Media promoted two employees, eliminated a position and is searching for new managers.


Gene Robinson was promoted to COO at the Tucson station this month. He replaces John Hess, who in November was appointed director and GM of WUWM, Milwaukee’s NPR station. Robinson, who joined Arizona Public Media in 2016, was the CMO. The CMO position was eliminated and two new management positions will be created.

As part of the restructuring, Brian Deevers, currently senior designer, becomes creative services manager. Duncan Moon will serve as interim news director, succeeding Andrea Kelly, who was named director of publications for University of Arizona Health Sciences. Moon has been a reporter, producer, editor, bureau chief and newsroom manager for organizations including Monitor Radio, NPR, Alaska Public Radio Network and the Southern Education Desk. The company is searching for a permanent news director as well as a marketing/communications manager.

Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, Calif., announced promotions of several staff members in December.

Nick Miller was promoted to managing editor of news and information. Miller joined the station in 2017 as a senior editor for news and features. He has also been an editor for the Sacramento News & Review and the editor-in-chief of East Bay Express.

Sally Schilling is the new on-demand director. She joined the station as a freelance reporter in 2016 and was promoted to reporter and podcast producer in 2017. She has also reported and interned for California outlets including the Vacaville Reporter, the Richmond Confidential, the San Mateo Daily Journal, the Palo Alto Weekly and KQED.

Ben Adler was promoted to director of programming and audience development. Formerly capitol bureau chief for the station, Adler has also been a reporter for KAZU in Pacific Grove, Calif. A press release said that due to Adler’s promotion, the station is hiring a second state government reporter and an editor to join state government reporter Scott Rodd.

Nick Brunner is the new assistant director of programming and audience development as well as modern music director. Brunner joined the station in 2007 as a host and producer for Hey, Listen! He will remain as host for the program. Brunner has also been a jazz and blues host for WGLT-FM, a station owned by Illinois State University. He was also a production director for Connoisseur Media, a company based in Westpoint, Conn. 



Brynne Kenney was promoted to VP of administration at Nevada’s PBS Reno in October, according to Peter Stanton, VP of development. Formerly director of administration, she will continue managing the HR department as well as payroll and other portions of finance. Kenney joined the station in 2010 as a receptionist and was promoted several times. “Brynne has demonstrated solid commitment to the station’s mission and its viewers in every key position she has held, and will continue to deliver stellar leadership in her new position,” said Kurt Mische, PBS Reno president and CEO, in a news release. “It’s really exciting to see someone like Brynne earn her way up the ladder from receptionist to vice president, who helps guide the station forward.”



Blue Ridge Public Radio in Asheville, N.C., hired Erin Adams as membership manager this month. Her most recent position was digital marketing manager for NTEN, an organization that supports nonprofits. In public media, she was membership coordinator for Nashville Public Radio from 2007 to 2010 and was a multimedia marketing associate and marketing communications specialist for NPR from 2010 to 2018. She has also worked for the Asheville Citizen-Times, the Independent Tribune and the PENCIL Foundation, a group that supports Metro Nashville Public Schools.


Jonathan Butler, director of digital strategies for Vermont Public Radio in Colchester, is leaving the station to become NPR’s director of station digital solutions. His first day with NPR will be in February. Butler joined VPR in 2007 as an online manager and producer. He was promoted to his current position in 2011. Butler also participated in NPR’s Public Radio Incubation Lab in 2019, a program focusing on digital engagement, network collaboration and on-demand audio.

The Institute of Nonprofit News hired Sara Shahriari as director of leadership and talent development this month. In addition to being a freelance journalist, Shahriari was a senior producer and editor for Radio Adelante, a Spanish-language news broadcast from the Missouri School of Journalism; assistant news director for KBIA, the NPR member station in Columbia, Mo.; and managing editor for Georgia Public Broadcasting. (Current is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.)

Carlos Barrionuevo, a former director and senior director of business development for NPR from 2005 to 2010, has returned to public media as the director for Public Media Company. In the last four years he has lived in Portland, Maine, as co-owner of the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse, a music and wedding venue he purchased with his wife. He was also a business manager for the Tribune Company.


Lina Blanco-Ogden was promoted to digital engagement manager for KQED’s arts and culture desk. She was previously an engagement producer and social strategist for the desk. Also, Isabeth Mendoza became an engagement producer for Truth Be Told, an advice show. She has also been an intern for Georgia Public Broadcasting.


Gabe Fleisher, an 18-year-old journalist who started a daily newsletter about politics, will host a new podcast covering the 2020 election, gerrymandering and the Iowa caucuses for St. Louis Public Radio. The biweekly Wake Up to Politics podcast debuts Jan. 24. Fleisher started his newsletter, also titled Wake Up to Politics, in the third grade and has gained a substantial following among political diehards. He is also credited with breaking the story of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential bid.

Roger Cook, the landscape contractor for the PBS home renovation program This Old House and spinoff Ask This Old House, left the shows this month. In a statement, Cook said he has stepped back from the programs in recent years because he is dealing with “several health issues that have made performing on television more difficult.” He has been with the program for more than 35 years. Jenn Nawada has been named the next landscape contractor for the show. Nawada has been a landscape designer with the program since 2015 and has owned her own design company since 2009.

Dan Clark is the new host of New York NOW, WMHT Public Media’s statewide public affairs program that is supported by WNET in New York City. A frequent guest on the Schenectady, N.Y.–based program, Clark’s first day was Friday. Previously, Clark was a reporter for PolitiFact and the New York Law Journal. He replaces Matt Ryan, who had been with the station for more than 10 years. Ryan became a deputy press secretary for the New York State Comptroller. Casey Seiler, the Times Union state editor and columnist and long-time co-host of New York NOW, will continue as the host of the program’s Reporter’s Roundtable and as a contributing correspondent, according to a news release.

Robert Jimison, an editor for GPB, will join the New York Times later this month to work on The Daily podcast as an associate producer. Jimison joined the station in 2018 as a politics producer. He was also an intern there in 2016 and has written for CNN at its headquarters in Atlanta.

Lauren Sommer, a science and environment reporter for KQED radio, left the station this month to become a climate correspondent for NPR. Her first day is Monday. Sommer has been a reporter for KQED since 2006 and freelanced for NPR. She has also been an editorial intern for the Sierra Club, an editorial fellow for National Geographic, an online producer for the Environmental Defense Fund and a reporter for Frommer’s. 

Kathleen Schock joined Valley Public Radio in Fresno, Calif., as host of Valley Edition this month. Shock has been a news associate for NBC News; a television reporter for KGPE, the CBS affiliate in Fresno,; and a director of strategic communications for Fresno State University.

Ashley Dean left Denverite this month to become the digital news editor for WWNO in New Orleans. She joined Denverite, now part of Colorado Public Radio, in 2016 to be a dining and nightlife reporter and was later promoted. Dean was previously a reporter for the Colorado Daily and the Denver Post.

Celeste Oppito became the new manager of education and lifelong learning partnerships and services this month for WPBS in Watertown, N.Y. Oppito previously worked for the State University of New York at Potsdam as an academic counselor graduate assistant. She was also an assistant camp director for Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension and was a first-grade teacher for Canton Central School District.

Janet Babin joined the Wall Street Journal this month as senior editor and host of The Future of Everything, a podcast. Babin was formerly EP of Climate 2020, a podcast about climate change produced by The Years Project. She has also taught at The New School and reported for Marketplace, WNYC and NPR. Tim McDonnell, a deputy editor for NPR’s global health and development blog Goats and Soda, is joining Quartz as an energy and climate reporter based in Washington, D.C. He has also been an editorial intern and associate producer for Mother Jones, as well as a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow. He has also freelanced for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Send news of “comings and goings” to [email protected]

CorrectionA previous story said Carlos Barrionuevo will be a consultant for Public Media Company. His title will be director instead.

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