Embattled WLVT founder Shel Siegel to retire at 58
Originally published in Current, March 28, 1994
After months of controversy over his leadership at WLVT in the Allentown/Bethlehem of Pennsylvania, Sheldon Siegel announced his retirement last week, effective March 31 . Under the terms of an agreement negotiated with the station's board of directors, Siegel, 58, will continue as a consultant to the board on a three-year contract, but he will not have a role in WLVT's management, according to Annabelle Creveling, board chairman.
"By stepping down from his position as president and c.e.o., he is relieved of what has become an increasingly complex administrative burden,'' Creveling said in a press release. "By retaining him as a consultant, the station will continue to benefit from his unparalleled wealth of knowledge and experience in public television.''
Siegel is WLVT's founding manager. "He saw the birth of the station, he nurtured it and saw it grow,'' Creveling told Current. "After 30 years his assessment was there was a time for a change, for him as well as for the station.''
Negotiations on his retirement were ``initiated from both sides'' and ``were not associated with the CPB audit report or any other issue occurring'' over the past several months, she said.
Siegel's admission last fall that he had authorized fake bids in WLVT's on-air auction triggered a long-running controversy in the Lehigh Valley (earlier articles). A draft report by CPB's inspector general sharply criticized Siegel and called on the board to take a more active role.
"After 39 years, I leave Channel 39 as what most professionals in the public television system consider to be one of the nation's most financially viable, sound and successful stations,'' said Siegel in a press release. He did not respond to a reporter's request for an interview last week.
Donald L. Roberts, v.p. of programming, will temporarily assume Siegel's responsibilities after this week. The board is seeking an interim g.m. with "very exceptional financial skills,'' said Creveling, and will launch a separate search to permanently fill the position.
Originally published in Current, May 9, 1994
Sheldon Siegel, the longtime president of WLVT in Allentown, Pa., who retired after taking a beating in the local press, is continuing to work for the station at the consulting rate of $113 an hour or $136,792 a year.
When his retirement was announced last month, the WLVT Board okayed a contract paying Siegel $11,316 for 100 hours of work per month, the Allentown Morning Call reported.
Responding to donors' complaints, the station decided to designate all on-air pledges for programming, said David Donio, director of development and community relations. ``That empowers our membership to do with the money what they want to do,'' he explained.
The board named retired businessman Robert T. Weed as interim g.m. while it searches for Siegel's successor. Weed retired in 1989 as a v.p. at Reckitt & Colman Inc., owner of the consumer products company Durkee-French-Airwick.
Siegel admitted ordering false "house bids'' during WLVT auctions before 1992 and was criticized for management practices.