Cathy Twiss, who worked in distribution and station relations for Public Radio International and PRX for nearly three decades, died March 16 after living with cancer for many years.
Twiss joined Public Radio International in 1993 as program marketing manager, cultural. She later served as station relations manager and director of client relations.
In 2013, she was promoted to senior director of radio distribution. She continued in that role after the 2018 merger of PRI and PRX.
Colleagues remember Twiss as smart, friendly and an earnest listener with a strong ear for judging programs.
“Cathy was quite simply the best public radio has. We were lucky to have her,” said Craig Oliver, an audience research consultant who worked with Twiss. “You can have sales people who place programs on stations, and that’s fine. But Cathy built relationships between the producers and the stations. … She worked hard to understand the needs of both the producers and the stations, and she led her team that way. ”
“She was just always somebody who was trying to help, whether it be her team, or peers, or the institution overall, or the producers that she supported, or stations,” said Julia Yager, who worked with Twiss at PRI for 20 years. Yager left PRI in 2018 in the role of senior VP, marketing, sales and distribution.
Yager added that Twiss “knew when to keep fighting” for her convictions. One example of that quality proved decisive in the growth of public radio’s The Takeaway.
PRI introduced the news show in 2008 as a competitor to Morning Edition. After it had aired for a few years, Twiss advised Yager and PRI CCO Melinda Ward that the show would find greater success in middays.
“Cathy was determined and undaunted,” Yager said. “… She just kept making her case with both data and her intuition. We did make that change, and that is when The Takeaway took off.”
“I feel like the world is certainly less without her, and she has given us a lot to follow in her example,” Yager said.
“You always felt like she was the adult in the room,” said Mike Arnold, COO and director of content at Wisconsin Public Radio, who worked with Twiss at PRI from 2005–12. “She was always very smart and insightful and bridged gaps between people in a positive way. She really brought a quiet power to her work that I think a lot of people benefited from.”
“Cathy had a positive impact on those around her,” PRX said in a release. “All of us here at PRX will never forget her and all that she’s done on behalf of our organization and the industry. We will miss her laugh, wry sense of humor, honesty, and steadfast belief in the magic of the work we do in public media.”
Before working in public radio, Twiss was a substitute and English as a second language teacher, a college textbook representative for John Wiley & Sons and a marketing representative for Wadsworth Inc.