Illinois Public Media chief taking Nebraska job

Illinois Public Media chief taking Nebraska job

URBANA — Illinois Public Media General Manager Mark Leonard has accepted a new job in Nebraska.

Leonard, who joined Illinois Public Media as general manager in 2007, will be general manager and CEO for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications in Lincoln. He is expected to leave the UI some time this summer.

An interim has not been named and details are still being worked out on how and when to launch the search for his successor, said Jan Slater, interim dean of the University of Illinois College of Media.

Illinois Public Media is a not-for-profit public media service of the College of Media and includes WILL-AM 580, WILL-FM 90.9, WILL-TV and WILL Online.

As WILL faced budget cuts in recent years from university, state and federal sources, "Mark has worked hard at establishing new funding revenues" Slater said. She credits him with boosting Illinois Public Media's digital efforts, including creating and distributing a lot more content, and focusing on public engagement.

He also helped the organization rethink how it runs fundraising drives, she said, making them "not as often or onerous." A recent campaign raised $120,000.

"It is with mixed feelings that I leave Illinois Public Media, but the opportunity to lead NET offers exciting next steps for me," Leonard said in a release. "I take this position knowing that Illinois Public Media is well positioned to continue its success, including future opportunities to partner with the College of Media and with other units on campus as part of Chancellor [Phyllis] Wise's Visioning Excellence initiatives. In addition, I believe there are exciting possibilities for building deeper partnerships with WILL's peer public radio and television stations throughout Illinois," he said.

Prior to Illinois, Leonard was general manager at KCTS TV in Seattle and worked at other stations in Seattle, Yakima, Wash. and Rochester, N.Y.

Leonard is currently president of the Illinois Public Broadcast Council, the association of public television and radio stations in the state, and he serves on the executive committee of the national University Licensees' Association. He recently received the Association of Public Television Stations 2013 National Advocacy Award for his work in advancing public television's legislative goals. Leonard also is a board member of the Public Media Business Association.

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