WNET had another successful year at the 2018 America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) Public Media Summit in Washington, DC. The Summit, which ran February 26 & 27, is the largest annual gathering of public broadcasting general managers and community leaders who come together to explore issues that are vital to the future and mission of public service media.
President and CEO of APTS Pat Butler began the conference with his Annual Address that spoke to the tests public media faced and passed to secure its federal funding last year. He remarked that, “Public broadcasting has defended itself, its missions, its viewers and listeners against extraordinary odds, and we have won.” Butler then inspired attendees by reminding them that public media has nationwide bipartisan support. He stated, “This growing bipartisan support has fully justified the years of effort we have invested in convincing our lawmakers of the essential nature of our work – and its positive influence on our country and the world.”
This year’s sessions included a presentation on Sesame Workshop’s partnership with the International Rescue Committee on early childhood development in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan; a presentation on public television’s impact on the national conversation and culture featuring Neal Shapiro, WNET President and CEO, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, WETA President and CEO and Jon Abbott, WGBH President and CEO; a panel discussion on television-based public safety initiatives and the resilience of our system in the face of disasters; and a discussion on America’s homegrown heroes, featuring veterans and their connection with local food, and led by CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison and chef Lidia Bastianich.
Conference attendees also celebrated the one-year birthday of the PBS Kids 24/7 channel and live stream with Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, and Tim McKeon, co-creator and head writer of PBS KIDS’ Odd Squad. They focused on PBS stations’ unique role in school readiness for low-income families. Said Kerger, “Public media is a shining beacon of education, inspiration, and leadership.”
The 2018 David J. Brugger Lay Leadership Award was presented to the more than 720K grassroots advocates from Protect My Public Media, public television and radio’s grassroots advocacy campaign. Patrick Butler remarked, “This year, the David J. Brugger Award is not being presented to an individual, but to a truly awe-inspiring group of public media supporters, in recognition of their remarkable achievement in grassroots advocacy…From its modest beginnings seven years ago as 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting, Protect My Public Media has become one of the largest and most effective grassroots movements in America.”
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was presented with the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award. “She has tirelessly championed this campaign in the Senate, continuously increasing the number of supporters for our cause. Last year her public media funding letter was signed by a record 45 Senators, including both Democrats and Republicans,” said Pat Butler.
The Summit concluded with Capitol Hill Day on Wednesday, February 28, when station representatives took to Capitol Hill to meet with local legislators to promote the power of public media and the importance of sustained federal funding. WNET’s team took meetings with 28 Members of Congress from New York, New Jersey, and Long Island and Neal Shapiro met with Senators Gillibrand and Schumer from New York with great success.
Team members included Friends of THIRTEEN, Inc. board members Erin Hartnett, Advocacy Chair, and Mae Miller, Board Chairman. WNET Staff were well represented by Ashton Brooks, Kala DeStefano, Deb Falk, Bob Feinberg, Pat Northrop, Diane Masciale, Dorothy Pacella, Sasha Schechter, John Servidio and Kellie Specter.
In addition, Friends of THIRTEEN held their annual essay contest with Macaulay Honors College to recruit student representatives to attend the Summit and Capitol Hill Day. Three students were selected for this year’s advocacy efforts: Sierra Baksh, a sophomore at Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College; and Lily Fremaux, and Nailah Garard, a freshman and sophomore respectively at Macaulay Honors College at The City College of New York. The Friends also welcomed Leena Noel, who recently completed her BS in Nursing at Rory Meyers College of Nursing at New York University.