Al Jerome, the broadcasting executive who led Los Angeles public television station KCET out of PBS membership and into a partnership with satellite network Link TV, is retiring within the next six months, KCETLink announced today. Jerome has served as president of KCET for 18 years and is only the third person to lead the organization in its 50-year history. He will stay on through September and assist in the search for his successor, the statement said. He joined KCET in February 1996 after a 30-year career in commercial broadcasting at NBC, CBC and ABC. During Jerome’s tenure the station won 69 Emmys, seven George Foster Peabody awards, five duPont-Columbia awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award.
After negotiating with PBS for eight months over a proposal to reduce its dues and reconfigure pubTV in the Los Angeles market, the city’s bigget public station announced this week that it may drop out of the network by Jan. 1. If KCET proceeds with that option, PBS would be left without a station committed to carrying its primetime and children’s schedules in the nation’s second-largest media market. It would be the first departure of a major-market member in the network’s history. KCET President Al Jerome told Current that he’d prefer to remain with PBS, but says — if the network doesn’t budge — he has unanimous backing from the station’s board of directors to forgo the PBS brand and the icon series of its National Program Service.