WNET’s Baker to Deliver Loper Lecture
William F. Baker, chief executive officer of the Educational Broadcasting Corp. � which operates WLIW and WNET, the nation’s most-watched public television station and largest producer of cultural and arts programming � will deliver the third annual James L. Loper Lecture in Public Service Broadcasting on Monday, Nov. 12 at the Davidson Conference Center.
The Loper Lecture, named in honor of communication professor James L. Loper, was established by the USC Annenberg School for Communication in 2005 to bring industry leaders together to assess the state of public service broadcasting and chart a course for the future. The event, which will begin at 11:30 a.m., is open for coverage and is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.
Baker’s career spans four decades, during which he has played a leading role in helping to shape American broadcasting in both the commercial and public sectors.
He has headed the Educational Broadcasting Corp. since 1987 and remains a well-known advocate for the educational potential of television. Previously he was president of Westinghouse Television Inc. and chairman of Group W Satellite Communications.
During his 10 years at Westinghouse, five cable networks were launched, including the Disney Channel and the Discovery Channel. He also introduced Oprah Winfrey as a talk-show host. He is a member of Broadcasting & Cable’s Hall of Fame.
“It will be interesting to hear why someone who was very successful at Westinghouse chose to move to public broadcasting,” Loper said. “I have admired Dr. Baker for years, and I expect his remarks about programming and the current state of public broadcasting to be very inspirational.”
Loper spent almost 20 years in various positions at KCET, the Los Angeles public television station, including vice president and general manager, and president and CEO. He was the founding chairman of the board of the Public Broadcasting Service and served three terms as PBS chairman during its formative years. He has been a visiting scholar and executive in residence at USC Annenberg since retiring as executive director of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1999.
“The future is very uncertain for all broadcasting, particularly for public broadcasting, with the fragmentation of the audience due to the proliferation of cable television, personal devices such as iPods, texting, etc., which sap away part of the audience,” Loper said. “We hope the lecture series increases awareness of public broadcasting and the issues it faces.”
Past speakers in the series are Minnesota Public Radio founder and CEO William H. Kling (2006) and Public Broadcasting Service board chair Mary Bitterman (2005).
“At USC Annenberg, we are deeply interested in the critical role that media plays to inform and engage the public,” said Ernest J. Wilson III, the dean of USC Annenberg, holder of the Walter Annenberg Chair in Communication and the ranking senior member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting board of directors.
“Through the Loper Lecture and the work of our exceptional faculty like Jim Loper, Judy Muller and Sandy Tolan, along with my own personal experience, the Annenberg School is becoming the leading center for research and debate about the future of public service broadcasting.”
The lecture series is made possible with support from the H. Russell Smith Foundation. Smith is the former president and chairman of the board of the Avery Dennison Corp. He has chaired the boards of KCET and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.