Job description: watch your step, make magic

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.

PBS hires Jennifer Lawson as chief programmer

The Public Broadcasting Service reached across the Potomac River and some
bad blood to pick Jennifer Lawson, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s
television program fund director, to become executive vice president for
national programming and promotion at PBS. The senior programming position at the Alexandria, Va.–based PBS has been
open since October 1988, when senior vice president Suzanne Weil left PBS
to become executive director of the Sundance Institute for Film and Television. A quintet of senior PBS executives, including President Bruce Christensen,
has since acted as a programming committee. The new chief will develop a comprehensive program plan and take an active
role “to get the PBS schedule into shape, so it can deliver the kind
of program power that all of us believe will be the result of the changes
we’re talking about occurring over the next few months,” Christensen
said. Lawson said there is “a growing consensus to have strong programming
leadership, some details of which will be decided at the summit meetings”
between CPB, the National Association of Public Television Stations and
PBS.