Aronson promoted at Frontline, NPR Board elections, Lapin joins Current, and more…

Raney Aronson

Frontline Series Producer Raney Aronson has been promoted to deputy e.p.

The promotion, announced during the Television Critics Association Press Tour last month, was widely reported as an indication that Aronson will succeed founding Executive Producer David Fanning atop PBS’s investigative news centerpiece. Aronson began producing for Frontline in 2001, and her notable early documentaries include a Frontline/World piece on AIDS among sex workers in India that received an Overseas Press Club Award. Since joining the Frontline staff in 2007 she has led several major projects, including the Polk Award–winning “Law & Disorder,” an investigation of controversial shootings by the New Orleans Police Department after Hurricane Katrina.

Aronson previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and ABC News, and also was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Peter S. McGhee Fellowship from WGBH, named for the station’s longtime v.p. of national programming.

In NPR Board elections selecting new member directors, two incumbents and three new nominees are vying for three seats that open in November.

Betsy Gardella, president of New Hampshire Public Radio, and Greg Petrowich, executive director of WSIU-TV/FM in Carbondale, Ill., are running for reelection. Candidates seeking their first terms as member directors are Michael Brasher, g.m. of KANW, Albuquerque, N.M.; Mary Grace Herrington, c.e.o. of Iowa Public Radio; Roger LaMay, g.m. of WXPN in Philadelphia; and Connie Walker, g.m. of WUNC in Chapel Hill, N.C.

A-Reps are also voting on the board’s nomination of a new public director, John Wotowicz, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley with expertise in the financing of technology and media. Wotowicz, an NPR Foundation trustee, currently serves on the boards of three public media organizations: Marfa Public Radio, Aspen Public Radio and the Texas Tribune, an Austin-based nonprofit news organization.

On a separate ballot ratifying the choice of a non-board member serving on NPR’s Distribution and Interconnection committee, station reps will vote to confirm the board’s election of Ralph Hogan, director of engineering at KJZZ in Phoenix, to a second term.

Electronic balloting by authorized representatives of NPR member stations — general managers with voting power in NPR matters — continues through Aug. 13, according to NPR.

Two directors who will leave the board when their second terms expire in November hold top board leadership positions: Chair Dave Edwards, a member director and g.m. of Milwaukee Public Radio; and Carol Cartwright, a public director representing WKSU in Kent, Ohio.

John Moe.

American Public Media tapped David Brancaccio to succeed John Moe as host of Marketplace Tech Report.

Beginning in September, Moe will work full time on Wits, a new storytelling and musical performance show that recently completed its third season on Minnesota Public Radio. Brancaccio, who had been contributing to California-based Marketplace as a special correspondent and host of its Morning Report, will continue to work from New York.

“By combining Marketplace Tech Report with coverage from Marketplace’s technology correspondent on the West Coast, we will be able to offer listeners a more comprehensive look at the tech world,” said Judy McAlpine, American Public Media general manager.

Moe helped to conceive and launch Wits in 2010, splitting his time with the ongoing duties of hosting Marketplace Tech Report. “We think there is enormous potential for Wits to go national,” McAlpine said, “and John’s absolutely the right person to lead that effort.”

Jim Wildman, a senior producer on Morning Edition, has taken a sabbatical from NPR to embark on a yearlong journey with his family that will span three continents.

Their trip is inspired by a quote from the Bible’s Psalm 8: “God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.” In an email to Current, Wildman wrote: “We are venturing out in to a world that we believe is God’s creation. His creative mark is all around us. As we travel, we’re hoping to experience these marks — the echoes — in new ways.” Wildman and his wife, Suby, initially planned a two-week sojourn overseas. That grew into a month, then a summer, then a whole year. Now the Wildmans, who are parents to three boys, plan to visit roughly 20 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. They’ve already been to Iceland and France.

“Along the way, Suby and I have had disagreements over food, struggled as parents and only now started to feel like we can do this,” Wildman says. “The boys have embraced our blog, fought in the back seat and discovered that milk and cereal doesn’t always taste the same as it does at home.”

Follow the journey on their blog, hearingtheechoes.com.

The Digital Opportunities Task Force, formed by the Affinity Group Coalition in May, met for the first time July 18 and 19 at PBS headquarters in Arlington, Va.

Chair Jim Pagliarini, president of Twin Cities Public Television, told Current that the group is “is really taking a deep dive to look at the work PBS Interactive is doing today, and serving as a sounding board from the station perspective as to how it can strengthen member stations.” The task force also will recommend ways to share information about PBS Interactive’s work on sensitive digital projects, including the Prosper online fundraising initiative. Task force members are: Dennis Haarsager, executive director, Major Market Group; Don Dunlap, president, KEDT, Corpus Christi, Texas; Rich Homberg, president, Detroit Public Television; Anne Gleason, s.v.p., marketing and interactive, WTTW, Chicago; Eric Hyyppa, general manager, MontanaPBS; Betsy Gerdeman, s.v.p., development, KLRU, Austin, Texas; Polly Anderson, c.e.o., New Mexico PBS, Albuquerque, N.M.; Michael Walenta, g.m., WGVU, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Don Boswell, president, WNED, Buffalo, N.Y.; Kelly McCullough, g.m., Eight Arizona PBS, Phoenix; Alexis Fife Rapo, v.p., broadband and interactive media, WGBH, Boston; and Brian Sickora, president, WSKG, Binghamton, N.Y. Jason Seiken, senior v.p. for interactive, and his staff are working with the group.

Andrew Lapin

Lapin signs on as Current assistant editor

After completing an editorial fellowship at Government Executive magazine last month, Andrew Lapin joined Current as assistant editor. A native of metro Detroit and 2011 graduate of the University of Michigan, Lapin interned at NPR intern last summer, and continued to contribute as a freelance film critic for NPR.org. For his first assignment with Current, Lapin covered last month’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in Seattle. In addition to reporting for the newspaper and for Current.org, Lapin will help manage social media platforms and online and print production.

Programming

KUER-FM at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City has hired reporter Whittney Evans to cover local and statewide issues. Evans moved to Utah in 2009 to work as a reporter, producer and morning host at another pubradio station across town, KCPW.

NPR’s Snap Judgment says Nick van der Kolk “is joining Team Snap as a producer/story magician/break dancer.” Van der Kolk directs WBEZ’s eclectic “Love + Radio” podcast, with interviews on subjects ranging “from the seedy to the sublime,” as its Facebook page attests. He’s also a sound designer, events organizer and co-founder of Megapolis, a weekend-long movable festival dedicated to do-it-yourself audio creation. Prior to joining Snap Judgment, he was a producer for Chicago Public Media’s Vocalo Mixtape.

Justin Kenny is the new foreign editor at PBS NewsHour, overseeing all international coverage. Most recently he spent a decade as producer and editor at Reuters Television. Kenny also worked for Channel 4 in London, WJLA in Washington, D.C., and Fox News from reporting posts as far-flung as Jerusalem, the Caribbean, Canada and Greece. This is Kenny’s second stint at NewsHour: He was a desk assistant at the weeknight news show during the summer of 1994. Kenny succeeds former foreign editor Mike Mosettig, who retired this year after nearly 30 with NewsHour.

Ina Jaffe, a national correspondent based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif., has started reporting on a newly created beat covering issues related to aging, including finances, work life, healthcare, relationships and the broader demographic realities facing the country. NPR says Jaffe’s reports will explore how the baby boom generation is transforming aging, and how a large percentage of the population is facing new challenges.

Iowa Public Television has selected Grinnell, Iowa, businessman and farmer Mike Pearson to take over for his late father, Mark, as the host of Market to Market, the network’s weekly national agribusiness series. The elder Pearson died June 2 at the family farm. The station said that Mike Pearson represents “the sixth generation of Pearsons rooted in Midwestern agriculture.” After graduating from Winterset High School in 2003, he managed his family’s grain and livestock operation, and provided market updates and news reports for WOI Radio in Ames, Iowa. He graduated from Simpson College and worked in banking in Grinnell. He and his wife, Heidi, still live there, “where they continue to build the Genuine Pearson Cattle Company brand,” the station said. Mark Pearson hosted the program for the past 20 years. Chet Randolph was the original host, for the show’s first 17 years.

Jamyla Krempel

Jamyla Krempel, former reporter and All Things Considered host for Delmarva Public Radio in Salisbury, Md., is now at WYPR in Baltimore working on a yearlong series for Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast. Starting Fridays this fall, “The Lines Between Us” will focus on inequality in the Baltimore region, using personal stories about race, class and other dividing lines. Krempel will research and report, book guests, write scripts and help create the online components. At Delmarva, Krempel was awarded 2011 Best News Series by the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her look at racial inequality in Somerset County government. She also produced features on redistricting, same-sex marriage and the depictions of minorities on television, and led an NPR-guided revamp of the station’s website.

Brian Roberts has been promoted to e.p. of MotorWeek, Maryland Public Television’s long-revving national automotive series. He will oversee all aspects of the weekly show covering automotives. Roberts also serves as the primary production liaison with other distribution partners, including Discovery’s Velocity and the V-me Spanish language network. Roberts joined MotorWeek in 1993, and served as producer for the past 11 years. He is a member of the International Motor Press Association and the Washington Automotive Press Association. MotorWeek is in its 31st season.

Milwaukee radio personalities Jordan Lee and Dori Zori are the new co-hosts for 88Nine RadioMilwaukee’s morning drive-time show, aMKEBrianne O’Brien, morning co-host and managing producer, recently left to pursue a master’s degree in international journalism in London. Her partner on the show, Stephen Kallao, moved into Lee’s previous weekday afternoon slot. Zori has hosted weekly programs on local noncom WMSE-FM for more than 20 years, most recently The Girlina Show, which featured rock and live performances by Milwaukee bands. She also served as WMSE’s underwriting director since 2008 and special events coordinator since 1990.

GPB Radio has selected Adam Ragusea as its local Morning Edition host and site supervisor for GPB Radio Macon/WMUM-FM. Ragusea also will report and manage news interns. He arrives in Georgia following four years at WBUR in Boston, where he was part of a team that launched the local daily magazine talk show Radio Boston. As a producer, reporter and occasional host, he focused on transportation, urban planning, the environment, local history, food, music and art.

Daniel Grossman, an environmental journalist, radio producer and documentary filmmaker whose work has appeared on Public Radio International, NPR and the BBC, has authored a digital book, Deep Water: As Polar Ice Melts, Scientists Debate How High Our Oceans Will Rise. It’s from TED Books, which says it publishes nonfiction digital works of fewer than 20,000 words that are “long enough to explain a powerful idea, but short enough to be read in a single sitting.” Grossman’s book recounts a recent 4,000-mile expedition across South and Western Australia looking for the truth about how high and how quickly oceans could rise due to climate change.

Development

WLRN Public Radio and Television has appointed Victor Kendall as the new president and c.e.o. for its Friends of WLRN organization. Kendall takes over from Jorge Perez-Alvarez, interim c.e.o., who will continue as the nonprofit’s chief financial officer. Kendall entered public media in 2003 as director of philanthropy and major gifts at KUHF Houston Public Radio, and later became vice president of KERA/KXT North Texas Public Broadcasting System. Previously, he was c.e.o. of the Texas Institute for Arts in Education and development director for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, a Houston-area outdoor amphitheater. He is active with several community groups, including the New York City Consortium of Free Lance Orchestras and the New York State Education Department’s Arts in Education Council.

Kathy Malesick is joining WOUB Public Media at Ohio University in Athens, to help develop and implement an enhanced advertising and underwriting financial strategy. “This is necessary to support our regional public media efforts and to buttress against possible federal budget cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio,” the station said in a statement. For the past three years, Malesick was a sales consultant for Time Warner Cable Media for the Columbus region, winning Salesperson of the Year in 2010. Previously, she was general sales manager at local rocker WATH/WXTQ-Power 105.

Social media

Philadelphia’s Triple-A WXPN-FM has named John Vettese as its social media coordinator and editor of The Key, its online source for local music that launched as part of NPR’s Argo network of blogs. Vettese will oversee and administer the station’s multiple social media accounts. He arrived at the station in 2006 as a volunteer deejay and has handled much of the local music airing on XPN2, the station’s HD alternative rock service; also produced almost all of The Key’s in-studio sessions with local artists since its launch in 2010. Vettese previously worked as a web producer, staff writer and photographer for the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia, and a freelance music writer for Philadelphia City Paper and Magnet magazine.

Management

David Dial, whose pubcasting career spans more than four decades and who serves as the current Affinity Group Coalition chair, is retiring as president of WNIN in Evansville, Ind., next June. In 1970, Dial became the first full-time employee of NPR member station WUSF-FM in Tampa. In 1974 he went to WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., and later spent a year at WXEL-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla., before arriving at WNIN in 1983 as director of broadcasting. Dial has served on the PBS Board of Directors, and was vice chair of its Interconnection Committee. He is a founding member and past head of the Small Station Association, and in 1994 helped develop PBS Ready to Learn, the preschool children’s educational media service funded through congressional appropriations to the U.S. Department of Education.

Following a national search, Cary Boyce is president and general manager of Spokane Public Radio. Boyce comes to SPR after seven years at WFIU, Indiana Public Media, where he served as the station’s operations and production manager. He is also an active composer and musician, and won a 2011 Lower Great Lakes Regional Emmy Award for his original score for the documentary Harp Dreams from WTIU in Bloomington, Ind. Boyce is a recipient of numerous music grants, including awards from the Pew Charitable Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, and Arts International; and co-founder of Aguava New Music Studio in Bloomington, Ind., an artists’ group producing and presenting new music.

Peter Whorf is the new radio station manager for WKAR at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He comes from WFMT in Chicago, where he worked as program director and vice president for content for seven years. Whorf’s past experience includes WNYC in New York City and KBIA in Columbia, Mo., where he was program director, and WBEZ, where he managed news and talk programming.

The new senior v.p. of content and operations at WJCT in Jacksonville, Fla., is  Anthony Padgett, who will oversee content across all platforms as well as promotion. He’ll also serve on the board of directors of FPBS, the nonprofit association of the state’s public broadcasting stations. Padgett had been chief engineer and acting general manager at Brevard Community College’s WBCC-DTV, and helped forge a partnership with the University of Central Florida to launch WUCF as the primary PBS station after Orlando’s WMFE ended its PBS affiliation in June 2011.

Rick Holter

KERA in Dallas has hired former NPR editor Rick Holter as vice president for news. Holter will supervise the radio, TV and digital news staff; the arts journalism unit “Art&Seek”; the midday talk show Think; and the weekly call-in Anything You Ever Wanted to Know. At NPR Holter was supervising editor, digital news, and supervising senior editor for Weekend All Things Considered and Day to Day. He starts in mid-September.

Marketing/Communications

WNET in New York City has announced several promotions in its communications department. Donald Lee, who handles media relations for Nature and other local and national productions, is now a senior publicist. He arrived at the station in 1998. Natasha Padilla also advances to senior publicist; she is point person for American Masters and other series. She has worked at WNET since 2005. Lindsey Bernstein, hired as communications coordinator in 2010 for programs including Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, is now junior publicist. Also NJTV, the New Jersey pubcasting network operated by WNET, has appointed Debra Falk as director of communications. She has served as a communications consultant for the new station since September 2011. This is her second stint at WNET, where she also worked in communications from 1999 to 2009 on programs such as 1900 House, Frontier House and Colonial House.

WLRN in Miami has promoted Michael Peyton to director of corporate marketing. Peyton joined the station in 1994. His prior experience includes serving as executive director of the Miami Runners Club, which grew to the third-largest running club in the country. He also founded the South Florida Theatre Festival and the Summer Youth Theatre Festival.

Engagement

Amanda Zamora started Aug. 6 as senior engagement editor for ProPublica, where she is responsible for leading the nonprofit newsroom’s reader engagement efforts. Her most recent job was at the Washington Post, which she joined in 2003, serving as an online editor and producer for various departments, including the investigative reporting unit, before becoming its first social media and engagement editor in 2010. In 2009, she helped launch the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, a nonprofit news site.

Governance

Mark McCain, director of radio and g.m of KMUW-FM in Wichita, was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Kansas Public Broadcasting Council (KPBC) at its annual meeting in June. Kliff Kuehl, president of KCPT-TV in Kansas City, will serve as vice-chair. Janet Campbell, g.m. of KANU-FM/Kansas Public Radio, based in Lawrence, was elected secretary, and Deb Oyler, executive director of High Plains Public Radio, will continue as treasurer. KPBC, which includes a representative from each of the nine radio and TV licensees serving Kansas, was established by the Kansas legislature in 1993.

Jack Gibson, director and g.m. of Arizona Public Media in Tucson, has been elected chair of the Pacific Mountain Network Executive Council. Other officers elected: vice-chair, Tom Karlo, g.m. of KPBS in San Diego; treasurer, Kurt Mische, president of KNPB, Reno, Nev.; and secretary, Ruby Calvert, g.m. of Wyoming Public Television. The Pacific Mountain Network comprises 32 public television stations in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific states that develop regional programs. The network also administers an annual enhancement grant program to support innovative media projects of special interest to its member stations.

The NETA Board of Directors formally ratified the election of its executive committee for fiscal year 2013 at their summer meeting, July 22–24 in Miami. Chair is Becky Magura, president of WCTE in Cookeville, Tenn.; vice chair and chair-elect, Shae Hopkins, executive director of Kentucky Educational Television in Louisville; secretary, Eric Hyyppa, g.m. of MontanaPBS; and treasurer, Jack Galmiche III, president of the Nine Network of Public Media in St. Louis. John Harris III, president of Prairie Public Broadcasting in Fargo, N.D., continues on the executive committee as immediate past chair. JoAnn Urofsky, g.m. of WUSF Public Media in Tampa, Fla., and Joe Bruns, e.v.p. and c.o.o. for WETA in Arlington, Va., are the executive committee’s members at large. The NETA board passed a resolution honoring the work of John McCarroll, who recently announced his retirement as executive director of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. Board members also approved a resolution of appreciation honoring “the leadership and achievements” of Allan Pizzato, former executive director of Alabama Public Television, terminated by the Alabama Educational Television Commission unexpectedly two months ago (Current, June 25).

Digital

KUT-FM in Austin, Texas, has hired its first digital platform content director, Todd Callahan, as part of its efforts to double its services by 2020. “This is a brand-new position and a key one going forward,” said Hawk Mendenhall, KUT’s associate general manager and director of broadcast and content. Callahan will focus on building the KUT audience across platforms and building a new iPhone app. He spent 10 years at Time Warner Cable overseeing new media and web-content-management-system projects for 13 news division affiliates. Callahan also has previously consulted with KUT.

Dennis Palmieri, communications chief for five years at the Independent Television Service in San Francisco, is moving into a new role as director of innovation and media strategy. Palmieri will focus on the OVEE (Online Video Engagement Experience) project, a digital platform that allows moderated interactive online screenings of video content streamed through PBS.org, and will work directly with ITVS President Sally Fifer on a range of strategic initiatives.

Fresh Air’s website and social-media strategist Melody Joy Kramer has left to begin medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia. She recently began contributing to NPR’s healthcare blog, Shots, on a bimonthly basis. Her decision to leave Fresh Air was “not an easy or quick one,” Kramer wrote on her blog. But “the itch to go to medical school has been growing stronger and stronger and I think now is the time to finally take the plunge. I don’t plan to stay away from public radio for long. I want to become a practicing ER physician (this may change) as well as a medical journalist (this will not change).” Kramer is especially interested in “how the medical profession engages with the public through mass and social media.” Kramer plans to “write extensively” on her med school adventures on her blog (melodykramer.tumblr.com) and Twitter (@mkramer).

Julie Westfall, former associate editor at KPCC.org, is leading the new national curation team for Thunderdome, Digital First Media’s centralized news operations that serves newspapers in the MediaNews Group and the Journal Register Company. “It’s our responsibility to bring these stories to each of our local markets, and to ensure the staffs of our more than 75 newsrooms can focus their energies and efforts on the local reporting they do best,” said Digital Projects Editor Mandy Jenkins. Westfall helped develop and manage digital workflow for KPCC.org beginning in 2011. Previously, she was on the team that launched TBD.com, a local news startup covering the Washington metro area, where she directed daily breaking news coverage and editing. She also directed print and online redesigns and coverage as managing editor of the Voice of the Hill in Washington D.C.

Education

Sesame Workshop has promoted Erica Branch-Ridley to vice president, executive in charge of production for Sesame Learning. She joined the Workshop in 2008 as the broadband supervising producer for The Electric Company, and was most recently assistant vice president and supervising producer of Electric Company Digital. In 2010, she won a Daytime Emmy for The Electric Company website. Before joining the Workshop, she was executive producer and senior director of TV Land Digital, overseeing creative direction and production for the TV Land and Nick-at-Nite websites.

Please send People items and photos to sefton@current.org

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