Paula Kerger, National President and CEO of PBS

A message from Paula during her February 2010 visit to WCTE.

Paula speaks at WCTE's 2010 Annual Dinner.

"Paula is Coming!"
--- By Becky Magura

“Paula Kerger is coming! She’s coming here in February…isn’t that awesome!” That’s what I’ve been running around saying for a few weeks now and often I get the same response from folks here in the Upper Cumberland…it’s a puzzled look and then a very timid…”That’s great Becky. Now who exactly is Paula Kerger?”

I’m sure if I mentioned Fred Rogers, Jim Lehrer or Ken Burns, you would recognize these PBS icons as representatives of a broadcast legacy that is based on integrity, quality and in service to the American public.

Another one of those champions, with less name recognition, is Paula Kerger. Paula is President and Chief Executive Officer of PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, the nation’s largest non-commercial media organization with 356 member stations throughout the country. WCTE is one of those stations.

Ms. Kerger joined PBS as its sixth president and chief executive in March, 2006. Since her arrival, Ms. Kerger’s commitment to high-quality content, education, diversity, and the use of new technology to bring public service media into the lives of all Americans has resulted in a broad range of initiatives. Among her accomplishments are the Ken Burns’ and Dayton Duncan’s recent 12-hour documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea;” the debut of acclaimed children’s programs such as “Curious George” (the number one show for children ages 2-5 since 2006), “Word World,” “Super Why!,” “Martha Speaks” and “Sid the Science Kid,” new primetime science and arts series and comprehensive online sites for parents and caregivers -- PBS Parents -- and for educators -- PBS Teachers.

Picture of PaulaIn 2009, PBS programs have been honored with 30 Emmys, including 13 Daytime Emmys, nine Primetime Emmys, six News and Documentary Emmys and two Emmys for Business and Financial Reporting; six George Foster Peabody awards; three IDA Documentary awards; three Writers Guild of America awards; one Academy Award nomination (documentary feature); 15 Parents’ Choice Awards for television and five Parents’ Choice Awards for Websites.

That’s the national story on Paula and it’s all true, but here’s my personal take. She’s one of us. What I mean is that she’s genuine, real, passionate, smart, tough, strong and loyal. Those are attributes we share here in our region of the country and attributes that make a difference in relationships on a personal level and in business. We respect that and over the past three years as I’ve had the privilege to meet with her and listen to her, I’ve come to know that she possesses those attributes. I admire the strength and leadership she brings to our industry.
Paula stands up for what she believes in and she believes in the past, present and future of who we are as a public service media industry. That’s why she’s coming here to our region - to visit with WCTE, one of the smallest stations in the PBS family. She believes that every citizen in this country deserves a rich and robust educational service on the air, within their communities and online. WCTE provides that each and every day and has for over 30 years. In my 27 years with this station, we’ve never had a PBS President visit, but she’s not like any other PBS President. It’s not about the size or stature of a station, it’s about the work we are doing and the people we are serving. She believes that and we do too.

It will be an honor for us to have Paula Kerger visit our station and region and she will be the guest speaker for a special Dinner. I hope that as a member and supporter of WCTE, you will make plans to join us for this very special occasion. After February 18th, you’ll know who Paula Kerger is and you’ll have no doubt as to why she came here.

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