Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a National Public Media Leader, Visits Hawaiʻi

 

CEO Message

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEO

Patricia de Stacy Harrison loved growing up in her working-class, family-centered neighborhood in Brooklyn – it was loud and caring, engaged and opinionated. “You would talk,” she told me in her visit to Honolulu last month. “And then you would wait for your next turn to talk.”

That’s one piece of her beloved Brooklyn culture she needed to un-learn in adult life. She became a very good listener – as demonstrated in a successful Washington, D.C. public relations business that she and her husband owned and operated; as a diplomat serving under then-Secretary of State Colin Powell; and for almost 15 years as President and CEO of the private nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

 

(Left) Getting ready for GET CAUGHT READING, PBS Hawaiʻi’s new read-aloud program. Her book? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (Right) With Miriam Hellreich, a Board Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Hawai‘i resident; Leslie; and PBS Hawaiʻi’s Board Chair Joanne Lo Grimes

Getting ready for GET CAUGHT READING, PBS Hawai‘i’s new read-aloud program. Her book? A Tree Grows in BrooklynWith Miriam Hellreich, a Board Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Hawaiʻi resident; Leslie; and PBS Hawaiʻi’s Board Chair Joanne Lo Grimes

 

She was in the Islands to tour and talk with PBS Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Public Radio and Pacific Islanders in Communications. She also spoke at the East-West Center, and in Kona, Hawaiʻi Island, at the Hawaiʻi Executive Conference.

 

“‘Steward’ is a very old-fashioned word but an important one because it speaks to accountability.”

Pat Harrison
President and CEO, Corporation for Public Broadcasting

 

Her job is not easy to explain. A top leader in public media, Ms. Harrison doesn’t create or distribute media. What she does is steward the federal investment in public media for PBS and NPR stations and similar nonprofit organizations across the country. The goal is to open doors of learning and opportunity. The funds generally amount to about 15 percent of a public media station’s revenues.

 

“‘Steward’ is a very old-fashioned word but an important one because it speaks to accountability. And CPB is accountable to Congress and the American people,” she said.

 

(Left) Updating the PBS Hawaiʻi Board on national initiatives. (Right) Taking the podium with East-West Center chief executive Richard Vuylsteke.

Updating the PBS Hawai‘i Board
on national initiatives
Taking the podium with East-West Center
chief executive Richard Vuylsteke

 

The core pillars of public media are education and journalism – or as Ms. Harrison is quick to specify in these roiling times in reporting, “fact-based journalism.” The so-called “Three Ds” shape the Corporation’s funding choices: Digital innovation and acceleration; Diversity of stories, talent and perspectives; and Dialogue within communities and country.

 

Under Ms. Harrison’s leadership in 2010, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided vital seed money for a public media start-up far from Washington, D.C. It was PBS Hawaiʻi’s own HIKI NŌ vision of convening student voices! Since then, private donors have championed HIKI NŌ, and students across the state meet PBS journalism standards and excel at national digital media competitions. The program has become a pathway to Early College.

 

Ms. Harrison looks for ways to adapt and bring about positive change.

 

She recalls something that Sir Howard Stringer, then head of Sony, said to her:

 

“We all have to remember not to hang on to the status quo long after the quo has lost its status.”

 

Says Ms. Harrison: “I have been afraid of the dreaded status quo ever since.”

Leslie signature

 

 

 

It Just Doesn’t Add Up – Federal De-Funding of Public Media

Special Message


Kent K. Tsukamoto, Treasurer, PBS Hawai‘iI’m a numbers guy. It’s my job.

 

As a longtime CPA and as managing partner of one of Hawai‘i’s largest locally owned financial services companies, I know that numbers tell stories, too.

 

So, with the White House handing Congress a proposed federal budget that would de-fund the nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I took a closer look at the numbers in the current federal investment.

 

$1.35. That’s the cost of public broadcasting per citizen per year – less than the price of a manapua.

 

For years now, Republicans and Democrats have vigorously argued and then come together in a bipartisan investment to give public media $445 million a year, with most of the money going directly to support free, noncommercial, locally run PBS television stations and NPR radio stations across the country.

 

$445 million is 1/100th of 1 percent of the nation’s budget, amounting to $1.35 per citizen per year. The national PBS folks point out that’s less than a cup of coŸffee. Here, we like to say: That’s less than the price of a manapua – and a small manapua at that.

 

Most years for PBS Hawai‘i, our part of the national funding amounts to 15 percent, or about $1 million, of our annual revenues. We use the federal investment as seed money to attract contributions from the private sector – “viewers like you.” Individuals, businesses and charitable foundations pitch in. It’s these private gifts and grants, fanned by the spark of federal funding, that provide the bulk of our statewide programming and outreach.

 

Among the oŸfferings that the federal investment helps us acquire: curriculum-based PBS KIDS programming that boosts our children’s learning; the science show NOVA; the investigative program Frontline; and performing arts on Great Performances. The federal funding also helps to create shows like Na Mele, the only weekly television show featuring traditional Hawaiian music; and Insights on PBS Hawai‘i, the only live hour-long interactive public affairs show on weekly statewide television.

 

As a lean local nonprofit that’s able to leverage the federal money and also scale our services by sharing program costs nationally in public media, PBS Hawai‘i has a track record of delivering quality shows at very reasonable costs.

 

To guard against political interference in program content, Congress has provided two-year “forward funding” as a firewall. All of this computes to a successful public-private partnership.

 

As Neil Shapiro, who heads WNET in New York, observed: “It’s not like cutting this would have any appreciable effect on any taxpayer across the country, but losing PBS would.”

 

In my view, this is especially true when it comes to the value of PBS’ in-depth news coverage, arts and culture, a safe haven for keiki and a trusted place to air diffŸering perspectives on local issues.

 

It’s a privilege to volunteer my time as Treasurer of PBS Hawai‘i’s Board of Directors – because I want to support a community treasure that is efficient and collaborative in costs, while providing a significant multiple in the value returned to the people of Hawai‘i.

 

I see how the federal investment enriches the people of Hawai‘i and keeps our stories alive, our music playing and our home a better, safer place. The numbers tell the story.

 

If you’d like to help support public media organizations like PBS Hawai‘i:

  1. Contact your Hawai‘i Congressional delegates.
  2. Go to ProtectMyPublicMedia.org and sign a petition.
  3. Continue to pitch in with your private dollars as you can.

Thank you

 

A Threat to Public Broadcasting’s “Spark”

Protect My Public Media

If you’d like to help support public media organizations like PBS Hawai‘i:

  1. Contact your Hawai‘i Congressional delegates.
  2. Go to ProtectMyPublicMedia.org and sign a petition.
  3. Continue to pitch in with your private dollars as you can.

Thank you


Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiAt first, when Ronald Reagan launched his Presidency in 1981, he didn’t like the idea of federal monies going to fund PBS and NPR stations across the country.

 

Then he saw how public-service media stations leveraged a relatively small amount of federal funding to gain private donations. One federal dollar might turn into, say, eight dollars, with citizens, businesses and charitable foundations adding the weight of their support.

 

“Government should provide the spark and the private sector should do the rest,” President Reagan said.

 

We at PBS Hawai‘i believe this is a good public-private partnership, centered on education, public safety and civic leadership. Last year, 9.5 percent of our revenues came from the federal investment.

 

Now comes the Trump Administration, signaling its intention to “privatize” – meaning de-fund – the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the private nonprofit that distributes funds to public media stations. Other Administration targets are the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

As I write this, two weeks before publication, I’m getting ready to go to Washington, D.C. for a national public media summit, at which attendees will seek to determine President Trump’s plans. Is he really going to wage a battle against federal seed money for public broadcasting?

 

The public broadcasting community says the notion of eliminating the federal funding in its mission is “nothing new.” It points out that similar ideas have been “soundly rejected on a bipartisan basis.”

 

According to the industry publication Current, the chair of a key House Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), predicts that such a move would fail because “there is a strong constituency for public broadcasting in both the House and Senate.”

 

Indeed, strong bipartisan support usually results in an appropriation of about $1.35 per year per American. Still, leaders of public broadcasting say they must take funding threats seriously. They’re asking to talk with Administration officials, and station general managers from all over the country are taking their case to Capitol Hill.

 

PBS Hawai‘i’s Board of Directors already has written to Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegates.

 

However, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) isn’t calling out and mobilizing citizens at this time. Without a fleshed-out proposal from the Trump Administration, leaders are monitoring the situation closely. We are urging viewers to register your support at protectmypublicmedia.org.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
Leslie signature

 

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Station Reports


 

PBS Hawaiʻi Reports to the Federal Communications Commission

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Help with Station Reports

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