For the first time in more than 30 years, a member of PBS senior management will be in Juneau.
PBS President & CEO Paula Kerger will be in Juneau for the day Wednesday, and KTOO President &General Manager Bill Legere said he can’t remember a high-ranking executive at PBS coming to town since the early 1980s.
Legere said this visit to Alaska has been in the works for years.
“The public TV stations have had a standing invitation to Paula for many years,” Legere said, “and this is the first time the timing has worked out for her and us.”
Kerger, like many who visit Juneau, will spend part of her day at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. PBS, along with the BBC, put on Wild Alaska Live — a live nature program that was anchored at the glacier — last summer. Legere said Kerger wanted to come up then, but wasn’t able to make it work with her schedule.
She will also meet with public media members, Assembly members, legislators and Gov. Bill Walker during her visit, Legere said. Neither her visit to the Visitor Center nor the meeting with local leaders will be open to the public.
Kerger is the longest-serving president in PBS history, having joined the organization in 2006. Prior to joining PBS, she was at the Educational Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), and has carried that focus on education into her time at PBS. She’s strongly committed to children’s education, and Legere said childhood education is a key role PBS plays in rural communities including many in Alaska.
In 2017, amid concerns about the federal government slashing funding for public broadcasting, Kerger specifically mentioned Alaska as a place where public broadcasting would be hardest hit by budget cuts. Now, she’s getting a look at the state first-hand.
Legere said the timing was fortunate with Kerger making a trip to Anchorage and other communities in the state.
“We don’t have the budget that big cities have to bring in celebrities so we look for any opportunity to tag onto a visit to the Northwest or to share them with other organizations in Alaska,” Legere said. “We work pretty hard on finding economical ways to get people here.”
KTOO has been able to do that well lately, bringing comedian and radio personality Paula Poundstone to Juneau in early March. NPR special correspondent and former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” Melissa Block will give a public presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 9.
Being located in a picturesque setting, Legere said, has helped sweeten the deal for visitors from afar.
“Everybody wants to visit Alaska,” Legere said, “so we’ve been lucky to have a stream of interesting guests.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.