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Message from the General Manager

Rus Peotter, WGBY General ManagerThis is truly bittersweet. After 15 and a half years at WGBY, I’ve written almost 180 of these monthly columns for three different iterations of this publication. This will be my last.

At the end of December, I will retire as General Manager of WGBY. After all this time at WGBY (and over 40 years in public television and radio), it is clearly impossible to write all I would like to in this small space. But I will give it a try.

Most important are my thanks. To our staff, our current and past Board members, my colleagues at WGBH and across the system, my family, and to all of you who have invested in our work for decades, thank you. The opportunity to work in public media has been an incredible gift for which I’m not only grateful but indebted.

I began working in public television as a freshman at Bates College. I came in to run camera on the WCBB-TV Great TV Auction in 1973. That night, the old black-and-white camera I was using literally burst into flames as the director yelled rather profanely into my headset. I thought, “Wow, this is cool!” and was hooked. I went on to learn lighting, sound, directing, producing, and then management—kind of odd for an economics major. I learned practical skills, like hanging sheet rock and doing plumbing and wiring as sets were built and studios redone. In production, I came to be on a first-name basis with three Maine governors, met two U.S. Presidents, and worked with other notables, including Ed Muskie, Margaret Chase Smith, Malcolm Forbes, and Walter Cronkite. But what I really loved about public media was the exposure to so many ideas and issues.

In many jobs, you focus on a small set of skills and deepen your expertise around them. In public media, however, our job is to share an incredibly wide range of ideas and explain them. From the importance of early literacy/learning and the role of the arts in personal development to the vital productivity of honest dialogue and civic engagement, we have helped build and improve our communities.

Perhaps the most profound takeaway from my experience in public media comes from having met thousands of people and having helped them tell their stories. Hearing from recent immigrants, renowned artists, inner-city moms, business founders, and many others, I had confirmed for me what I was taught as a child—that the values of hard work, equality, justice, honesty, tolerance, and forgiveness are not simply clichés, but are principles we all share.

It has been an amazing privilege to absorb the public media experience. Thank you for helping me and WGBY do all that we’ve been able to do. My family and I intend to remain active in our community and the region. I’m sure our paths will intersect again, and I look forward to it.

Russell Peotter, signature

Russell J. Peotter
General Manager