Renaming The House That Jack Built
The late Jack McBride built a statewide public-media institution called NET based at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where his longtime co-creator, production chief and ambassador to the legislature, Ron Hull, still works in retirement, as McBride did. Hull brings readers up to date on an ongoing issue.
Every now and then, something turns out right, and this is one of those stories.
In 1971 our staff here at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications moved into a five-story, state-of-the-art communications building and production center in Lincoln. Two years earlier I had spent part of every day at the Nebraska legislature trying to convince those 49 senators (we have a Unicameral, and if you can get 26 votes, you can do almost anything) that we needed a new headquarters building and production facility.
Though I spent a lot of time at the legislature, it was Jack McBride's uncanny ability to see into the future that created our new building. He and I rehearsed every argument we could think of that might come from the senators, and I went off each morning armed with his plan and strategies.
We succeeded, and our handsome, impressive new building became known throughout Public-Televisionland as "the House That Jack Built."
After passage of the legislation approving construction, the members of the legislature voted to name the building the "Terry M. Carpenter Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Center." It was Sen. Carpenter's bill that made the building possible. He was indisputably the most powerful senator in the Unicameral, and though both Jack and I had our own opinions about him and some of his personal tactics, and our relationship with him over the years was often tenuous and rocky, he did get us the building.
For the past 40 years, as I've driven past the sign in front of our building (yes, I'm still driving in, every morning at 6:45 a.m.), I wince when I see "Terry M. Carpenter" welcoming me. This spring I finally did something about it.
persuaded one of the senators to draw up and submit a bill for me, and with the help of a great public broadcasting fan and possibly the best lobbyist in these parts, we were able to get L.B. (Legislative Bill) 122 passed (46 ayes) and signed by the governor. Yes!
The bill takes effect 90 days after the adjournment of the current session of the Legislature, and we will then modify the sign out front, and all of our stationery, to read: “The Terry M. Carpenter and Jack G. McBride Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Center.”
I have proposed to the University that the sign look like this:
Terry M. Carpenter and
Jack G. McBride
Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Center
But so far I haven't made any progress on this slight graphical modification.
Ron Hull is senior advisor to Nebraska Educational Telecommunications and was Jack McBride's top program executive for many years. Hull is also professor emeritus of broadcasting, University of Nebraska Lincoln. During a 1980s intermission in his career at NET, Hull came to Washington as director of CPB’s Television Program Fund, where he helped arrange funding to start the PBS series American Experience.
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