Recent Communications to General Managers – Sept & Oct 2018

/////Recent Communications to General Managers – Sept & Oct 2018

Recent Communications to General Managers – Sept & Oct 2018

Following are recent email communications sent to station general managers.

Subject: September Board Meeting
From: Paula Kerger
Date: Thu 10/4/2018 6:32 PM

Dear Colleagues:

Last week the PBS board convened in Crystal City for its first meeting of FY 2019. For your reference, I’ve attached a board report summarizing our actions. Below are a few highlights, including the list of new directors who were seated for the first time following the August election.

PBS continues to be fiscally conservative, positioning the system to remain nimble in a competitive and volatile media environment. CFO Tom Tardivo reported to the board that PBS ended the FY 2018 fiscal year on budget, despite absorbing the cost of dues relief for the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands stations, which were severely impacted by last year’s hurricanes.

On the same day of the board meeting, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defense/Labor-HHS funding bill with strong bipartisan support. That legislation, which was signed by the president on Friday, provides full funding for CPB for FY 2021 and full funding for interconnection and Ready To Learn for FY 2019. While we must continue to make our case for future federal funding, we can take this milestone as yet another affirmation of our relevance and value to the American people.

I am pleased to report that the board approved revisions to the PBS Funding Standards and Practices, which ensure the noncommercial nature of all content distributed by PBS. The funding standards were carefully revised over the past year with broad input from local stations and producers from across the system. While the core principles have not changed, the revisions make the standards significantly shorter and easier to read, clearer on existing practices (such as prohibitions on host selling and product placement), and more platform-neutral. The revised policy is available online on the Producing for PBS webpage.

This was the first board meeting for newly elected professional directors Deb Acklin, president and CEO of WQED in Pittsburgh, and Kevin Martin, president and CEO of ideastream/WVIZ in Cleveland. We also welcomed Vivian Riefberg, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company who joined the Board as a general director.

We are also grateful to many incumbent board members who were elected to new terms. Re-elected professional directors include Ronnie Agnew of Mississippi Public Broadcasting; Kim Johnson of Colorado Public Television; Kliff Kuehl of KCPT/Kansas City; and Tom Rieland of WOSU, Columbus, OH. Click here to read the press release on our board elections.

General directors re-elected to the board include Afsaneh Beschloss, founder, president and CEO of The Rock Creek Group; Maxine Clark, CEO of the Clark-Fox Foundation and founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop; Robert Sachs, principal of Continental Consulting Group, LLC, and former president and CEO of NCTA; and Evan Smith, editor-in-chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

The meeting was bittersweet as we bid farewell to outgoing directors Tom Karlo of KPBS/San Diego, Brian Sickora of UNC-TV/Research Triangle Park, NC, and Bill Imada, of the IW Group. I cannot thank them enough for their leadership and service over the years.

As I shared with the board, PBS continues to look for opportunities to support resonant local experiences, as exemplified by THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. More than 3 million votes have been cast for America’s favorite book, roughly 46,000 people are taking part in our online book club, and TGAR’s social media content has reached 63 million people across social platforms. The real impact of this program can be seen at the local level, through the work of 76 stations that received 98 grants to engage their communities.

As we head into the fall, PBS’s coverage of the midterm elections will also reflect a local-national approach. The NEWSHOUR is working closely with stations around races that have national significance, and the program’s hosts will moderate several key debates.

PBS and our producing partners continue to be recognized for excellence. On Monday, PBS programs won seven News & Documentary Emmy Awards, the most awarded to any network. Congratulations to all of the winners – their work illuminates our mission. I am especially pleased that the Academy recognized our very own Paula Apsell with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Paula took the helm as Executive Producer of NOVA in 1985, and she and her team have delivered more than three decades of extraordinary programming.

It is an honor to be part of a system that makes quality and service the hallmarks of our work. Thank you for ensuring that the beacon of PBS continues to shine brightly in communities across America.

All the best,



Subject: TODAY: Nationwide WEA/EAS Alert
From: Thomas Crockett
Date: Wed 10/3/2018 9:15 AM


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts TODAY, Wednesday, Oct. 3. The WEA portion of the test, which will be sent to cell phones, will begin at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The EAS portion of the test, sent to radio and television, will follow at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

This will be the fourth nationwide EAS test and the first nationwide WEA test. No response actions are required. Forward the EAS as you would normally. The WEA message will automatically pass through your PBS-WARN equipment. After the EAS test, FCC Forms 2 and 3 must be submitted via

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as all WEA messages (e.g. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving this WEA test. For 30 seconds between 2:18 and 2:48 EDT, cell phones will make a noise even if muted. Please inform your staff and visitors.

The WEA test message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and text that says: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Any other message you may receive during the test window is genuine, and should prompt appropriate action.

PBS Stations are the only alerting partners participating in both the EAS and WEA tests.
For more information, visit or contact George Molnar, WARN Project Director, at (703) 739-5313 or


Subject: Report for America
From: Jonathan Barzilay
Date: Mon 10/1/2018 10:22 AM


The application window is open to be a host newsroom for Report for America.

Report for America seeks to address the crisis in local reporting by pairing local journalists with news organizations. RFA pays half of an entry-level journalist’s salary; the balance is either covered by the host news organization or split between the news organization and local donors. Think of it as Teach for America for local journalism.

Three of the first cohort of RFA reporters were embedded at PBS member stations: West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and KRWG, Las Cruces, NM.

More information, including the application form and FAQ’s, can be found at the link below; the application window for news organizations closes on October 31.

I am on the Board of Advisors for RFA, and can help answer questions about this innovative effort to strengthen local journalism.

Thanks — Jonathan

Jonathan Barzilay
Chief Operating Officer / PBS


Subject: National WEA/EAS test has been postponed until October 3, 2018
From: Thomas Crockett
CC: George Molnar
Date: Mon 9/17/2018 10:53 AM


The National WEA/EAS test has been postponed until October 3, 2018.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will now conduct the planned nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on October 3, 2018. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

October 3 was the scheduled back-up date for the test, which was originally set up for this Thursday, September 20. FEMA and the nation’s emergency management community are currently actively involved in various response efforts to severe weather, including Hurricane Florence.

For further information on the test, go to

We will be in touch again before the test date with another reminder. In the meantime, please direct any questions to George Molnar, Director, Engineering & Management, PBS-WARN: (703) 739-5313;

Thank you.



Subject: Remembering Susan Howarth
From: Paula Kerger
Date: Thu 9/6/2018 3:11 PM

Dear Colleagues:

PBS was greatly saddened to learn that former PBS Board member, Susan Howarth, president and CEO of WEDU in Tampa Bay, Florida, died yesterday after a battle with cancer. Susan served two terms on the PBS Board, from 1993 to 1999, and as professional vice chair, from 2001 to 2004.

A public broadcasting veteran with more than four decades of experience, Susan spent eight years at the helm of WEDU, expanding its service to the community in countless ways during that time, especially in the area of education. She was also an innovative leader who dramatically increased WEDU’s reach. Susan recently oversaw the addition of two new channels, bringing WEDU’s remit to six channels in its coverage area.

While always focused on serving her community, Susan’s accomplishments and leadership stretched across the system. Before joining WEDU, she served as President and General Manager of WCET in Cincinnati. Susan also held executive positions with Arkansas Educational Television Network and the AETN Foundation, and earlier in her career worked in programming at WNED/WNEQ-Western New York Public Broadcasting; WUFT-TV in Gainesville, Florida; KOZK-TV in Springfield, Mo. and Connecticut Public Television (CPTV).

I know that colleagues across the system join PBS in extending our sincere condolences to Susan’s family and WEDU colleagues. While there are no planned services or memorial at this time, please feel free to share remembrances of Susan on WEDU’s Facebook page. The Executive Committee of WEDU’s Board of Directors has named Jack Conely, former vice president of content, as the station’s interim president and CEO. We wish him the best as he takes the helm under these tough circumstances.

All the best,



Subject: PBS LearningMedia Redesign
From: Paula Kerger
Date: Wed 9/5/2018 10:08 AM

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to introduce the new and improved PBS LearningMedia website, which offers a fresh design and user experience for Pre-K through 12th grade educators and students.

Designed with input from your stations, the re-launched website has a host of special features including an updated look and feel; greater search functionality; simpler browsing and searching by curriculum area, standards and grade bands; easier access to your station’s resources; and robust localization features. You will also notice that station cobranding appears prominently on every page.

We often hear from educators that PBS LearningMedia is an invaluable resource that improves the learning experience. Each month, more than one million unique users tap into high-quality, classroom-ready resources. Thanks to your stations, PBS LearningMedia is making a difference in communities across America.

If you have any questions about the new site, please feel free to reach out to Eileen Cannon, Senior Director of Content & Curriculum Strategy, PBS Education (

With your ongoing leadership, public media will continue to play an important role in preparing the next generation for success.

All the best,

Paula Kerger
President & CEO, PBS

Sara Schapiro
Vice President, PBS Education


Subject: Update on our Public Editor
From: Paula Kerger
Date: Tue 9/4/2018 10:18 AM

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to let you know that our public editor, Madhulika Sikka, has accepted a position at the Washington Post as an executive producer, overseeing a new podcast set to launch this year.

As you know, Madhulika joined PBS last August. During her time at PBS, she published dozens of articles that have helped to explain the unique role of public media in our lives and our nation, with a mix of humor, personal reflection and fairness. I especially admire her knack for explaining the important but sometimes complicated ways in which our system works, in columns such as “How do federal $$$ get to your local station?” and Dear Youtube.

While we are disappointed to see her go, we appreciate Madhulika’s desire to return to an executive producer role at one of the nation’s top news organizations. We wish her well in her new role.

Public editors are increasingly rare in media organizations. Our commitment to having an independent voice within PBS is yet another way in which we build the public’s trust. Our search for a new public editor is already underway. If you have any recommendations, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

All the best,


By | 2018-10-05T09:16:44+00:00 September 5th, 2018|Daily Explorer, Recent Communications, SMC Blog|0 Comments

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