PBS Utah and KUER will share leader as James Morgese retires

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O'Mara photo: Austen Diamond

Morgese and O'Mara

James Morgese is retiring as GM of PBS Utah in Salt Lake City at the end of the month.

Maria O’Mara, GM of KUER-FM in Salt Lake City since 2017, will become executive director of both PBS Utah and KUER. Her first day in that role will be Feb. 1.

Morgese joined the station in 2013 after serving as GM of dual licensee WKYU in Bowling Green, Ky. Previously he worked at Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver and WUFT in Gainesville, Fla. Earlier in his pubcasting career, Morgese served on the boards of the Association of Public Television Stations, the Pacific Mountain Network and the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

Karen Hale, PBS Utah advisory board member, praised his work.

“James recognized and championed the positive impact PBS Utah has on viewers — both young and old — throughout the state,” she said in a news release. “Board members not only appreciated James’ commitment to quality content and the station’s outreach to the community, but they also felt valued as James sought and trusted the board’s advice and input.”

Morgese plans to be a consultant for public television once he retires, according to the news release.

O’Mara, his successor, started her career in the ’90s as a reporter with KUER. She worked for the Salt Lake Observer, the Deseret News, KSL-TV, the University of Utah and Rocky Mountain Power before returning two decades later.

O’Mara said having one leader of PBS Utah and KUER is a wise move. Both stations are owned by the University of Utah.

“From a practical standpoint, much of what PBS Utah and KUER do in terms of administrative work is parallel: accounting, FCC and CPB oversight, university policies and legal compliance, human resources, purchasing and facilities management,” O’Mara said. “Having the same person responsible for those things will be both more efficient and more effective for both stations.”

James Davie, PBS Utah’s director of programming and digital media, will become station manager. KUER director of programming and promotion Joel Meyer will become station manager of that station.

Alice Webber, director of development at PBS Utah, will be director of philanthropy for both stations. Ja’Naye Payne, currently KUER’s director of development, becomes associate director of philanthropy.

CorrectionA press release initially said Ja’Naye Payne will become assistant director of philanthropy. Her new title is associate director of philanthropy.

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