PBS will look at theater, arts and nonprofit executives to fill its long-vacant position of chief program executive, President Ervin Duggan told reporters in a Washington press briefing in January. Several candidates for the job from the commercial media world had possessed the “skill sets” that PBS is seeking, but are making “stratospheric salaries” between $600,000 and $700,000, plus stock options, and won’t work for PBS, where all salaries are capped by law at about $150,000, Duggan said. He believes PBS can find “the instincts of the impresario” and lower salary demands among nonprofit leaders [November 1995 article on search] . Jennifer Lawson, the former chief program exec, resigned last February after Duggan announced plans to hire an executive above here.
PBS’s chief program executive is a high-profile job that comes with a salary cap, a heavy workload and no excess of resources. But for seven months the c.p.e. has been a high-profile vacancy; the network is still seeking a permanent successor for Jennifer Lawson, who left the job in March with her deputy John Grant. Though many station programmers are pleased with the performance of the interim proprietors of the National Program Service, mainly former No. 3 programmer Kathy Quattrone, they eagerly await word that a new program impresario has been hired. So much about the future of public TV depends upon the distinctiveness, noncommercial values and viability of the NPS, and the c.p.e. is largely responsible for safeguarding those assets.