October heralds the formation of a new management team overseeing the nation’s five taxpayer-funded networks that reach an estimated unduplicated 345 million users online, TV and radio listeners each week.
The networks are the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE-RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), The Middle East Broadcast Network (NBN) in Arabic. and Radio-TV Marti (Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) in Spanish to Cuba.
Their multimedia broadcasts in nearly 60 languages present unprecedented challenges to an oversight U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the BBG.
The Agency’s recently released annual report maintains that the five networks together complement and reinforce each other in a shared mission vital to U. S. national interests. A centerpiece of that mission:
“to inform, engage and connect people in more than 100 countries in support of freedom and democracy.”
On October 1, the first overall manager of the five networks in 77 years of U.S. international broadcasting John F. Lansing resigns to move to National Public Radio, and his loss will be keenly felt. Mr. Lansing brought the presidents or directors of the networks together in biweekly strategy and planning meetings.
Michael Pack is under consideration as Mr. Lansing’s successor as president and CEO of the USAGM. He was president of the conservative Claremont Institute in California from 2015 to 2017 and a nationally-known award-winning producer of television documentaries, including several for PBS, as well as corporate and educational films. Among them: Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power (2014), Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton (2011), and Rediscovering George Washington (2003).
Two other nationally-known leaders have also been formally named senior managers at the Agency. They are:
Grant Turner, who joined USAGM in February 2016 and was named interim Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Turner joined the federal service in 2003 and was for six years at the Office of Management and Budget under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush. At the international broadcast agency, he has served as a chief financial officer since February 2016. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University in Hawaii and has two master’s degrees in business administration, one from Chaminade University in Honolulu and more recently from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Boston.
Steve Capus, was appointed September 26 as a senior adviser to the broadcast agency’s CEO. His three decades of experience as a broadcasting executive has included nearly eight years as president of NBC News and more recently. four years as executive editor of CBS News. In John Lansing’s announcement of Steve’s latest role, Mr. Lansing said: “As senior adviser, Steve brings extensive knowledge and proficiency in journalism, production, multi-platform newsroom transformation, strategy development and broadcast executive education to USAGM.
As a retired deputy director of VOA after 36 years and more than two decades as a historian-retiree, I have rarely seen such an expert array of new senior management at the summit of U.S. international broadcasting. It’s a landmark opportunity for creative media outreach to a tumultuous and increasingly curious 21st-century planet. That was the essence of what Grant Turner and Steve Capus shared with me in a conversation at Mr. Lansing’s sendoff on September 25.
As Mr. Capus puts it in his own professional website:
“Journalism is, indeed, a noble calling, and I have much I hope to accomplish in the next phase of my career. Working in network news is not a solitary pursuit; it is the ultimate ‘team sport’ in which success is derived from the collective performances of remarkable people united in purpose and dedication.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More