Lakeland PBS CEO Bill Sanford to retire

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Bill Sanford will retire as CEO of Lakeland PBS in Bemidji, Minn.


Sanford joined the station in 1985 as director of engineering. He kept that role throughout his 36 years with the station. 

Sanford’s last day as CEO is June 18. He will transition to a part-time role as director of engineering through 2021.

“It’s been an honor and privilege to work most of my career in public media right here at Lakeland PBS,” Sanford said in a news release. “The people are what make any organization successful and I was so fortunate to work with an exceptional and hard working staff and board, and serve a caring and supportive community.”

Sanford became CEO in 2000 and has also been assistant GM. Under his leadership, Lakeland PBS debuted Lakeland News in 1998, which became the region’s only nightly television newscast. The program is also one of the only nightly news programs on public television.

He also led a capital campaign and secured state bonds to help the station move into new headquarters in 2015.

As a member of an advisory group, Sanford was a key figure during PBS’ creation of streaming packages, including the YouTube TV livestreaming initiative that debuted in 2019.

Before Lakeland PBS, Sanford worked for commercial radio and television stations as an engineer. He has also served several terms on the PBS Engineering and Technology Advisory Committee.

In retirement, Sanford plans to spend more time with family, as well as on the lake and in his workshop.

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