WETA receives $1 million for culture, history and public affairs programs

By Dru Sefton

Washington, D.C., philanthropist and financier David M. Rubenstein has established a $1 million fund at WETA in suburban Arlington, Va., for producing programs about American culture, history and public affairs.

David Rubenstein met with WETA President Sharon Rockefeller at the station Tuesday to announce his donation. (Photo: Cable Risdon Photography)

David Rubenstein met with WETA President Sharon Rockefeller at the station Tuesday to announce his donation. (Photo: Cable Risdon Photography)

Announcing the donation Tuesday, Rubenstein said he believes in “the power of public media to be a force for education, sharing the vibrant culture and rich history of this country.” Rubenstein is co-founder and co-c.e.o. of the Carlyle Group, a global private equity investment firm. He has been a station member since 1988, according to WETA spokesperson Mary Stewart.

Sharon Rockefeller, WETA president, called the gift “truly inspiring.” She noted that Rubenstein’s investment “will meaningfully expand our ability to create programming of consequence and bring innovative, important ideas to life on behalf of the public.”

In addition to the major donation, Stewart said, “David also just asked us how he could help.” So Rubenstein also appeared in a promo that will air on both television and radio for the dual licensee.

WETA is the third-largest station producer of programming for public broadcasting, with such shows as  PBS NewsHour, Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and performance specials from the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Kennedy Center — where Rubenstein is board chair. WETA is also the sponsoring station for Ken Burns’s documentaries.

“I hope that my gift will serve as a beacon to others,” Rubenstein said in the announcement, “recognizing the unique role public media plays in our society and encouraging the creation of pioneering, intelligent content in service to the American people.”

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