Robben Fleming, 93

Robben Wright Fleming, 93, a former president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and of the University of Michigan, died Jan. 11, 2010, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Fleming’s CPB Board chair during his stint in Washington, Lillie Herndon, died just over a month earlier. During his CPB tenure from 1979 to ’81, he secured Walter Annenberg’s original pledge of $150 million to support a wave of college-level video telecourses commissioned by the Annenberg/CPB Project and distributed through public TV. [Longtime CPB executive David Stewart wrote that Fleming was one of CPB’s best presidents — “the first and last to bring a natural dignity, as well as an intellectual grasp of what the position required.”]

In his 1996 book, Tempests into Rainbows: Managing Turbulence, Fleming wrote: “The most delicate part of achieving success in administering a huge grant .

Robben Fleming, one of CPB’s best presidents, ‘seemed to me the least interested in himself’

David Stewart, one of CPB’s original employees and later a writer and Current contributing editor, sent this letter after the death of Robben Fleming, a former president of CPB. To the editors:

I was very sad to learn of Robben Fleming’s death in the Feb. 28, 2010, issue of Current newspaper. He served as CPB’s president from 1979 to 1981 — sadly, one of the shortest tenures for, in my view, one of the best presidents in the organization’s history. Predictably, his obituary described a number of important decisions that provided CPB with considerable prestige, as well as new audiences for public television.

Palm Beach station staff pushes out chairman

In a series of dramatic events covered avidly by local news media, the staff of Palm Beach’s public TV/radio licensee last month chased out the lawyer who was both its board chairman and chief executive officer for the last eight years. Chairman Lewis “Dusty” Sang resigned the unpaid positions two weeks ago after WXEL employees went public with complaints about his high spending and autocratic ways. President Sam Barbaro and development Vice President Anita Kirchen, who were suspended by Sang’s executive committee, are back at work at the Florida station, along with Cameron Harris, the assistant development director who was fired for acting as staff spokeswoman. The major effect of the affair, Barbaro says, is that “we have opened the window and let the fresh air in.” Though he now estimates the station faces a $174,000 shortfall, in part because of donor desertion during the strife, Barbaro is optimistic that WXEL will catch up.