Thirteen blogger: Neal Shapiro, President
Neal Shapiro and Bill Baker
Last night we held an extraordinary event to pay tribute to an extraordinary man.
The occasion was Thirteen and WLIW’s Annual Gala Salute, and the man was the one and only Bill Baker.
Many of our city’s most illustrious figures were in attendance at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall to honor Bill, our newly minted President Emeritus, who has devoted the last 20 years to the mission of public television.
Journalist Bill Moyers, serving as the evening’s host, summoned the kind of inspiring tribute that only he is capable of. And Bill Baker was saluted in song by Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Chamber Singers and the incomparable Tony Bennett. There was also a fantastic video featuring Bill’s friends, colleagues and beloved family.
Every year the Annual Gala Salute inspires New York’s philanthropic community to come together to support New York’s public television stations. I’m delighted to report that we exceeded our goal this year, raising more than $2.6 million for the programming and educational projects that make our work so valued by so many.
Among the many generous donors cited by our dynamic Chairman Jim Tisch were two Chairmen Emeritus: Henry Kravis, whose energy and expertise were critical in building our financial base, and Steve Rattner, whose vision helped build our distribution base, which now includes two analog channels, seven digital channels and services, and numerous Web sites.
So much planning goes into this annual event, and it really showed last night. A huge round of applause goes to Hilary Vlachos and her team, and to everyone at Thirteen and WLIW who contributed to making the evening such a success.
Postscript: Bill Baker is off to Berlin for a few months to share his expertise in the academic setting. When he returns, he’ll be spending some time teaching at some of the country’s most prestigious universities. But he’ll also be around the station, working on some special projects. And even when he isn’t in the building, his commitment and enthusiasm will always be with us.
images: Joe Schildhorn/PatrickMcMullan.com