GBH in Boston said Jonathan Abbott will step down after 15 years as CEO, and more than two decades at the flagship public media group.
Abbott led the digital transformation of WGBH, PBS’ largest producer and home of Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Nova, Frontline, American Experience and other series that are integral to public television’s DNA and have fueled its primetime for years. As the parent organization moved into other forms of distribution, he rebranded it from WGBH to GBH to reflect expansion beyond broadcast.
Abbott will remain through the end of 2022 while a search is conducted for his successor.
His accomplishments range from creating new revenue streams — including partnering with PBS to form PBS Distribution for home entertainment licensing — to launching the Contributor Development Partnership, a collaborative fundraising service to strengthen local public media organizations across the country. Last year, GBH completed a $215 million capital campaign, the largest in public media history. Under his leadership, GBH’s endowment grew substantially from $63 million to $523 million.
Abbott expanded coverage of local issues including the relaunch of GBH 89.7 as an audience-focused NPR news service; amplified local arts and performances with the acquisition of all-classical radio CRB; and opened a studio and community convening space at the Boston Public Library, which started a mini-trend among PBS stations.
GBH now encompass 10 digital and broadcast media channels including World Channel, a showcase for diverse documentary films. Abbot merged GBH’s western Massachusetts TV affiliate WGBY with New England Public Radio to form the multiplatform New England Public Media and expand service across the region.
Abbott began his 34-year career in public media at NPR/PBS station KQED in San Francisco where he helped launch the nation’s first all-news NPR station. He then moved to PBS in Washington, D.C., as SVP Development and Corporate Relations. He joined GBH as VP and GM in 1998.
“It has been my great privilege to work with an extraordinary group of talented and dedicated colleagues, supporting the creation of compelling, world-class content and trusted journalism that helps us understand the critical issues of our times. I am grateful to our community for its enduring support of GBH and public media,” he said.
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