The Programming Service for Public Television celebrates 25th anniversary with Founders event
Tampa, FL (October 17, 2022)
The Programming Service for Public Television celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special event for the founders of the company. The founders of The Programming Service, together with the current staff, met together to celebrate the history of the company and the accomplishments of the last 25 years.
In 1996, Florida Public Broadcasting (FPB) received a planning grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to explore the possibility of consolidating some services performed at each Florida member station in order to create efficiencies of scale and allow stations to conserve operating funds. Five member stations were willing to contribute funding to the startup of the programming service: Steve Rogers & WEDU, Patrick Keating (deceased) & WFSU, Bill Dresser (deceased) & WJCT, Allan Pizzato & WSRE, Rick Lehner & WUFT, which became the founding partners. Michael Seymour, previously of KERA, was hired as President of Programming by unanimous vote. They started work on August 12, 1996 as the first official day of business of the FPB Programming Service, as it was first known.
What originally started as an idea to save individual public television stations some money and to improve station scheduling, increase viewership and membership, has evolved over the years into an industry-leading organization that exceeded every measure of success that was ever set for it. These 25 years later, the business has grown from the 5 original stations to 50, representing 73 television markets and 45% of the total TV households in the country. The Programming Service continues to work diligently to improve viewership and membership for its client stations, as well as work with national public television leadership in a variety of ways to foster best practices and innovate new ideas for public television nationally.
When accepting his Founders’ plaque, Steve Rogers gave a passionate speech about “PBS DNA” and the special importance public media holds in our country and how The Programming Service not only has that unique DNA, but is a torchbearer in the sphere of public media. In terms of the founders event, he said, “When we created The Programming Service twenty five years ago there were five Florida stations willing to take the chance. We had no idea it would grow into the organization we witnessed at the Founders Dinner providing programming services to half the PBS system! Congratulations to all of you on such a wonderful success and thank you for honoring us with such a beautiful event”
Rick Lehner commented, “It was wonderful to see so many friends and meet all of the great people who make The Programming Service so successful. I am so delighted to see the dream we all had 25 years ago become such a successful and integral part of the public television system. You have all worked so hard to ensure the success of The Programming Service. I know we, as the founding stations, appreciate all that you continue to do for the clients and all of public television.”
“What a wonderful evening of celebrating 25 years of The Programming Service.” Said Mike Seymour. “Sharing the evening with my Programming Service family, Board members, and 3 of the 5 founders made for a perfect night. Thank you to BaBette and all the folks that helped her plan the celebration. What a joyous day and night! I was so touched by the tree dedication memorial to Lyn and me at the park. I know she would be pleased and honored to be remembered in such a manner.”
BaBette Davidson, President and CEO of The Programming Service since 2015 said, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to recognize and honor our founding partners. We would not be where we are today without them. It was a wonderful experience to revel in the rich history of The Programming Service and to see how far we have come in the last 25 years. Providing excellent programming to our client stations and their communities has always been our top priority, and that is something that has not changed since the company was founded. Our goal is to continue the great tradition of The Programming Service and we are excited to see where we can go in the next 25 years.”