WILL taps Bresnahan
A veteran public media executive will take over the helm at WILL and its partner station in Peoria, University of Illinois officials announced Friday.
Maurice “Moss” Bresnahan, who formerly ran a large public television station in western Washington, will be president and CEO of both Illinois Public Media and Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corp., the governing body for WTVP television in Peoria, starting in September 2014.
He will succeed interim president and CEO Chet Tomczyk, who is scheduled to retire in August.
The announcement solidifies a joint management agreement between WILL and WTPV launched last fall, after WILL’s former general manager, Mark Leonard, left to take a job in Nebraska.
Leonard had been at the station since 2007 and was credited with establishing new funding sources for WILL, which has faced budget cuts in recent years from university, state and federal sources.
Tomczyk was appointed in the interim while a search was launched for a permanent successor.
A novel position, the cooperative leadership arrangement was designed to increase collaboration between the stations and benefit the communities they serve, the release said.
The two companies had worked together before, collaborating on a primary debate and other projects, said Ui College of Media spokeswoman Heather Tucker.
“This partnership is groundbreaking,” said College of Media Dean Jan Slater. “We’re not merging two stations. We’re keeping their strong local identity, but creating stronger public media through that. For a university licensee and a community licensee to be able to do the things we’ve done in a short amount of time has been more than we could have imagined.”
Slater said Moss has extensive experience in public broadcasting “from all avenues. More importantly he really gets public media and what the mission is. He’s seen it evolve and is committed to what it can be.”
Bresnahan has served in senior leadership roles with small and major market public stations across the country. He has also been active in public media and community associations.
Most recently he was president and CEO of KCTS-TV, which serves more than 2.7 millions viewers in Western Washington and British Columbia. Bresnahan’s first job in public media was in the Quad Cities.
“We have two great stations here and the staff at each is so dedicated and has such a great legacy,” Bresnahan said in the release. “With the changing media marketplace and the digital world I think we’re in a great position to work together to really meet the new demands of public service that go along with public broadcasting; to find the efficiencies and strategies that can make public broadcasting more sustainable and more vital in these communities.”
Joe Strupek, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corp., said the joint agreement with WILL was “a complete unknown” when it was created but has evolved into a valuable partnership.
“This isn’t about WTVP or WILL, it’s about central Illinois and providing educational and entertainment content and connectivity through public media and how we can take the next step to further connect with our audiences,” Strupek said.
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.