Bates, a producer/director who rose through the ranks to become network chief in 1996, announced his retirement plans June 22, initiating the second leadership transition for the state network’s top job since its founding 58 years ago. Bates arrived at NET in 1975 as a producer/director working on a one-year assignment. He ended up devoting his career to NET, earning a promotion to senior producer and eventually moving into fundraising. He became director of development for Nebraskans for Public Television Inc. in 1985 before being appointed to succeed Jack McBride, NET’s founding general manager, in the mid-1990s. “Rod Bates’ leadership has brought NET to the highest level of service in our history,” said Ron Hull, a semi-retired NET veteran who hired Bates as a TV producer more than three decades ago.