Pruess says she’s leaving WNIT “in a strong position” after weathering challenges, including fire

By Dru Sefton

Mary Pruess, outgoing president and g.m. of WNIT Public Television in South Bend, Ind., told Current she feels “very confident that the station is in a strong position to build on for the coming years.”

The local South Bend Tribune reported today that Pruess had resigned. Pruess told Current she resigned on Monday, effective immediately. Steven Funk, station vice president of development and marketing, will serve as interim executive director while the WNIT Board conducts a search for Pruess’s replacement.

Pruess

Pruess is immediate past president of the Affinity Group Coalition’s Small Station Association.

When Pruess arrived at WNIT 10 years ago, she said, WNIT was housed in a set of trailers behind a school in Elkhart. “There was a lot of opportunity to really build a community institution,” she said.

As the station grew, it also suffered setbacks: A fire in 2009 destroyed its programming, business and development offices. Within a year — while Pruess was still working through the insurance claim — state funding was cut in half, forcing a staff cut of 40 percent. Despite the challenges, in 2010, WNIT moved into its new home in South Bend. 

There, “we’ve been able to really diversify our revenue sources, expanding local production,” Pruess said. Six months ago, WNIT premiered Experience Michiana, a daily magazine show. “Putting a daily program on the air is rare in public broadcasting to begin with,” she said, “and especially for a station our size.” She’s particularly proud that for the fiscal year just started, all local programs are supported in the budget. “That was a huge strategic objective,” she said.

In September, the St. Joseph County (Ind.) Board of Commissioners approved financing for a public access television station, to be operated and managed by WNIT.

As for Pruess, “I look forward to continuing to play a good, high-profile role in the system. I’m looking for the next best opportunity.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT