CPB will seek operator to develop American Archive; director leaves project

Having lost its digital projects fund last year, CPB lacks the money to develop the American Archive much further, according to Mark Erstling, senior v.p. The next step is to find an outside institution to adopt and support creation of the proposed archive of public stations’ historic audio, video and films.

That helps explain why professional archivist Matthew White left CPB Jan. 13 after two years as executive director. “It was very clear to him that things were going to change significantly,” Erstling says, and White accepted an offer to lead a “significant” archiving project abroad. White could not be reached for comment. CPB declined Current’s multiple requests for interviews with White over the previous two years.

Hull pursues personal history, 72 years ago in Rapid City

Now that he’s retiring, Ron Hull has time to find out who he is. Not that he or anyone else in public TV is uncertain on that point. Hull is one of the field’s most prominent advocates for good programs and a memorable character who flips his tie over his shoulder when he gets excited, which is often. He worked most of 47 years at the University of Nebraska’s public TV network, leaving periodically and coming back again to its program side, which he tended while Jack McBride built the transmitters, the relationships and an array of ambitious projects based in Lincoln. Hull is retiring from half-time work at the university this month, but his to-do list is full: dedicating a study center for Nebraska author Mari Sandoz at Chadron State College, raising a million bucks for the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission celebration in 2004, and tracking down who his parents were.

Orlando Bagwell: History-teller takes his craft into new realm

In many ways, Orlando Bagwell’s work announced his arrival as a notable creative talent years ago, when he and a handful of mostly inexperienced, young producers collaborated with Henry Hampton on Eyes on the Prize, the civil rights series that made television history in 1987. The opportunity to work as a member of Hampton’s team “changed my whole life,” Bagwell recalled. A young father who made his living primarily as a cameraman for public broadcasting stations and producers, Bagwell had come to believe that path would take him through life — until Hampton offered him the chance to produce and direct his own films on the civil rights movement. Now, less than a decade after Eyes premiered, the 43-year-old producer’s credits include some of the most important films dealing with African-American history and culture that have aired on public television — most recently, “Frederick Douglass — When the Lion Wrote History” and “Malcolm X — Make It Plain.”

Bagwell finds himself at another crossroads, seeking and embracing new challenges so that he will continue to find gratification in his work. Having learned his craft in historical documentaries, Bagwell is stepping into performing arts programs, a form he explored as a producer/director for WNET’s Dancing miniseries.