Friends of Thirteen and WNET Attend 2019 APTS Public Media Summit and Capitol Hill Day

March 7th, 2019

Kala DeStefano, Orlando Morales, Kathy Connors, Yeliz Alakas, Brian Sullivan, Sasha Schechter, Eve Passman, Neal Shapiro, Dorothy Pacella, Pat Butler, Deb Falk, Briana Vannozzi, and Matt Clark on Capitol Hill.

WNET had another successful year at the 2019 America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) Public Media Summit in Washington, DC. The conference, which ran February 25 and 26, celebrated the power of localism in public media. The APTS Public Media Summit 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.

PBS President & CEO Paula Kerger introduces the politics and policy-making panel.

Pat Butler, President and CEO of APTS, began the conference with his Annual Address that spoke to how important public media is because of the localism it celebrates each and every day. He remarked that, “the work that local public television stations do every day to serve their communities, teach our children, keep us safe from harm, and give us the tools we need to be responsible citizens of the world’s most important democracy.” Butler than inspired attendees by reminding them why we do our work and what an increase in federal funding would mean. “But the American people love, trust, admire and appreciate the work you do, and the store of good will that you’ve built in your communities and your country over the last half-century has steadily strengthened our modest claim on the federal treasury.”

This year’s sessions included a Sesame Street Celebration for its 50th anniversary with Jeffrey Dunn, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop; a presentation on localism and public television with Jeffrey Cole, Director, Center for the Digital Future USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and David Brooks, PBS NewsHour commentator, The New York Times columnist; and examples of local service in education, public safety, and civic leadership by Alaska Public Media, WFWA, and South Florida PBS.

Dorothy Pacella, Kathy Connors and Eve Passman meet with Congressman Max Rose (NY-11).

Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO, reminded conference attendees of the important role public media has long played on addressing the national opioid epidemic. SAFE Co-Founder Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld shared his son’s struggle with addiction and anxiety. He stated, “The opioid crisis is a national threat. Whenever public broadcasters air a program or host a community forum about opioid addiction, they are helping solve this problem.”

The Summit concluded with a panel discussion of 2019 politics and policy-making moderated by Robert Costa, Washington Week and National Political Reporter, The Washington Post and featuring Yamiche Alcindor, PBS NEWSHOUR, Susan Davis, NPR, and Lisa Lerer, New York Times.

Capitol Hill Day was on February 27, when station representatives took to Capitol Hill to meet with local legislators to promote the localism of public media and the importance of increased federal funding. For the first time in 10 years APTS is asking for an increase in federal funding: $495 million for CPB in the next appropriations cycle – a $50 million increase over our current appropriation. WNET’s team took meetings with 29 Members of Congress from New York, New Jersey, and Long Island.

Orlando Morales, Yeliz Alakas and Sasha Schechter meet with Congressman Peter King (NY-2).

Team members included Friends of Thirteen, Inc. board members Kathy Connors, Vice-Chair; Erin Hartnett, Advocacy Chair; Orlando Morales; and Sunyoung Oh. WNET Staff were well represented by Yeliz Alakas, Phil Alongi, Matt Clark, Kala DeStefano, Deb Falk, Pat Northrop, Dorothy Pacella, Sasha Schechter, Neal Shapiro, Kellie Specter, and Briana Vannozzi.

In addition, Friends of Thirteen held their annual essay contest to recruit student representatives to attend the Summit and Capitol Hill Day. Four students were selected for this year’s advocacy efforts: Jairo Martinez, a graduate student at NYU and former Kids and Educational Media intern; Eve Passman, a junior at NYU and former American Masters intern; Brian Sullivan, a junior at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, and Gabriella Vetrano, a sophomore at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College.