Board of directors initiates succession process;
Jerome remains CEO until successor is named.
BURBANK, CA--March 18, 2014--KCETLink announced today that Al Jerome, President and Chief Executive Officer of KCET for the past 18 years and only the third person to lead the organization in its 50-year history, has decided to retire. Mr. Jerome, who plans to step down from his position within the next six months, has agreed to assist the search committee in finding the new KCETLink chief executive, and to work with his successor to ensure a seamless transition to new leadership.
"It's been a privilege to lead this organization during its PBS years and into an entrepreneurial era," Mr. Jerome said. "As we begin preparations for KCET's 50th Anniversary, and continue to chart a new course for the organization, I feel that this is the appropriate time to bring in a new CEO. I would hope that my successor builds upon our recent accomplishments and works with the talented senior team we have in place to create a new and different roadmap for success in 21st century public media."
Expressing appreciation for Mr. Jerome's years of service to the organization, Dick Cook, Chairman of the Board for KCETLink, said, "Al Jerome leaves an exceptional legacy of leadership in commercial and public media. He has steadily guided KCETLink through a period of significant change with bold decision-making and risk-taking. The board is committed to identifying a new leader who can leverage the positive momentum that Al has created to establish a sustainable model for public media that engages a new generation. We're very fortunate that Al has agreed to assist in the search and work with his successor to make the transition as smooth as possible."
Mr. Jerome's predecessor, William H. Kobin, who was president and CEO of KCET from 1983-1996, and currently serves on the KCETLink Board of Directors, added: "Al Jerome is one of the brightest, most talented and capable media executives I've known. I'm sure he knew how difficult it would be when KCET left the PBS system from which it, like every other PBS affiliate, received a large percentage of its daily program schedule. From that day on, KCET faced the extraordinary challenge of having to produce or acquire every program in its 24-hours per day, 365-days per year schedule, and raise the money to do so. Fortunately, Al's leadership abilities, honed through a professional lifetime in both commercial and public media management, made him a perfect CEO to lead KCET through this unique high-pressure period of transition, which he is doing with extraordinary creativity, logic and skill."
Mr. Jerome's distinguished career spans nearly five decades. He joined KCET in February 1996 after a 30-year commercial broadcasting career with leading media organizations including NBC, CBS and ABC. During his tenure with KCET, Mr. Jerome created a transmedia organization that represents the dynamism and diversity of Southern California. He set an entrepreneurial course for the organization marked by innovative programming, key partnerships, a strategic merger and a commitment to digital innovation.
Under Mr. Jerome's leadership, KCET has garnered more than 380 awards, including 69 Emmys, seven George Foster Peabody awards, five duPont-Columbia awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award. During his years at the helm, KCET's schedule has been anchored by a signature local news and public affairs series, including SoCal Connected and its predecessors, California Connected and Life & Times. In addition, Mr. Jerome made KCET the first public television station in the Los Angeles market to program a daily international news block that has featured English-language newscasts from the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Israel and France. As part of this service, KCET was the first broadcast television station in the nation to carry Al Jazeera English.
KCET also has produced many national programs that reflect Southern California and its people. Mr. Jerome helped launch the national dramatic series, PBS Hollywood Presents, which showcased the producers, directors, writers and actors in the Hollywood entertainment community. Its many stars included Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, Daniel Craig, Richard Dreyfuss, Linda Lavin, Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashãd.
He also was instrumental in KCET co-producing American Family on PBS, the first primetime dramatic series to feature a Latino family. It was shot in East Los Angeles and starred Edward J. Olmos and Raquel Welch.
After raising $50 million to support five years of production, Mr. Jerome mounted the groundbreaking, Peabody Award-winning, nationally syndicated series, A Place of Our Own, and its Spanish language companion, Los Niños en Su Casa that taught pre-school caregivers and parents how to prepare children for kindergarten.
Mr. Jerome has consistently supported the development of original digital content. As a result, KCET.org has innovated such important, award-winning digital series as Artbound, Departures, and a variety of impactful blogs that have resulted in unique visitors to KCET.org having increased by 353% since 2011, the year KCET left PBS.
An Entrepreneurial Approach
Mr. Jerome's entrepreneurial approach to leadership has allowed KCETLink to begin building a new public media framework in Southern California.
This January marked the 3rd anniversary of KCET's historic break from PBS after four decades, making it the largest independent public television station in the nation. Since the split, Mr. Jerome has secured several key working capital foundation grants to help sustain the organization as it adjusted to its independence. In addition, he has built a new, state-of-the-art, award-winning transmedia production center in Burbank that more efficiently serves the company's new approach to content creation and distribution in the digital era. This was financed by the sale of the company's studio lot.
In 2013, Mr. Jerome championed the merger of KCET and Link Media, a San Francisco-based national public television satellite network reaching 33 million households via DirecTV and Dish Network. Link TV's global, progressive orientation fits strategically with KCET's mission to serve Southern California's diverse cultural landscape. The combined organization, KCETLink, has established an alternative national platform for creating and distributing public media content that addresses under-represented constituencies and supports global storytelling.
Over the past several years, Mr. Jerome also has forged important strategic partnerships that have contributed to KCET's ability to grow its pipeline of global content. He negotiated a successful marketing-distribution partnership with the BBC to deliver BBC World News to America's public television stations, including KCET. This network reaches 98% of the U.S. television households.
Mr. Jerome spearheaded a partnership with Union Bank-now in its 16th year-to produce the Local Heroes program, which identifies and promotes the accomplishments of individuals making a difference in their community throughout national Heritage Months.
Additionally, a partnership with Japanese public broadcaster, NHK, has resulted in the distribution of NHK World, a 24/7 programming service to Southern California, as well as the co-development of new international content.
For a full bio and key accomplishments of Mr. Jerome, please visit kcet.org/AlJerome.
KCETLink is the national independent public transmedia organization formed by the merger between KCET and Link Media. A viewer-supported 501c(3) organization, its content is distributed nationally via satellite on DirecTV (375) and DISH Network (9410), in Southern and Central California via broadcast, as well as through various digital delivery systems. The combined organization reaches a wide audience that includes Link TV's 33 million satellite subscribers and KCET's 5.6 million households in Southern and Central California. As new technologies continue to make dramatic changes to the media landscape, KCETLink is committed to driving public media innovation with smarter ways to access content that engages all audiences. For additional information about KCETLink productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org or linktv.org.