Al Rose, 70

By Steve Behrens

Albert E. Rose, former program director of New Jersey Network and later the program distributor who brought nightly British news programs to U.S. public TV, died of lung cancer June 16, 2010, at a hospice in Newtown, Pa.

Al RoseAs head of public TV’s Program Resources Group from its founding in 1991 until it closed and he retired in 2008, Rose came up with hundreds of programs including newscasts from the British ITN and BBC networks so that secondary pubTV channels such an NJN, WLIW and KOCE would have competitive, first-run primetime fare as alternatives to the PBS schedule.

Rose and PRG’s small staff shopped for programs from foreign and independent producers, assembling several ongoing strands of programs, complete with promo materials — mysteries, health, classical music, documentaries and more.

“He was one of those people who recognized that there were other sources of programming — I give him enormous credit,” says Eric Luskin, who worked with Rose at NJN and later bought PRG programs from him.

“He was a very gregarious fellow,” says Luskin. “He loved his family, loved travel, loved good food, good wine. He was a great person to hang out with.”

“Everything was always a possibility with Al Rose,” wrote Monica Riley, who worked with him for 12 years at PRG. “There were no valleys in his vocabulary. Al was creative, innovative and enterprising. He was the perfect mentor for me because he supported every single one of my ideas and guided me to make them better.”

Riley continued to serve as PRG’s director of program marketing and production after moving to Las Vegas, and they maintained their habit of regular phone calls after PRG disbanded two years ago.

The stations’ last broadcast rights purchased through PRG will run out in December, Riley noted.

Working at NJN from 1977 to 1991, Rose added minority and cultural programming, backing projects such as the ongoing series State of the Arts and the longrunning Latino series Images/Imagenes, which contributed programs to the PBS schedule.

“He came out of the commercial television world long before, but he was totally committed to trying very much to stay in keeping with the core values of public television,” says Luskin, now an American Public Television exec, who was a student of Rose’s in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and later was hired by him at NJN.

Rose lectured for some 20 years at Annenberg, where he earned a degree in 1962.

Before joining NJN, Rose worked 10 years at WCAU-TV, then the CBS station in Philadelphia, where he made award-winning arts and public affairs programs and became executive producer before leaving in 1976.

A resident of Philadelphia in the 1970s, Rose helped organize the city’s Center for Literacy, now the area’s largest group of adult literacy volunteers, and chaired its board for many years.

In 1980 he and his wife, Valerie Rose, moved to Bucks County, Pa., where he served 24 years on the township cable TV advisory committee.

Rose commuted for nearly three decades to NJN in Trenton and then to PRG, based in Manhattan. The homemade lunch he brought to PRG’s office revealed his cooking and eating enthusiasms. “Al would open his Thermos and have butternut squash soup with cardamom,” recalls Riley.

He is survived by his wife, Valerie.  Funeral services were held privately. Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be sent o the American Cancer Society or the Center for Literacy in Philadelphia.

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