Al Jerome is the longtime head of public television station KCET — only the third in its history — who will be known chiefly now for being the architect of the decision to leave PBS and become independent. That one is still playing out, though so far the decision doesn't look so great. The station announced today that Jerome will retire. He remains CEO while the search for a successor goes on. From the station:
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.