WVIA taking an important step into the New Year in response to members’ concerns
by Martin Walzer - Chairman, WVIA Board of Directors
In the spring of 2013, the WVIA Board of Directors made two appointments with an eye toward building a vibrant future for public media in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
They named Tom Currá WVIA’s new president and chief executive officer to succeed Bill Kelly.
At the same time, they saw an opportunity to utilize Bill Kelly’s knowledge of WVIA to help build an endowment for the non-profit public service station, appointing him president emeritus and chief development officer.
Tom Currá and the senior leadership at the station embarked on an exciting effort to directly engage local communities in producing local programming. Currá sees this process of WVIA “turning outward” as a new way of managing the station with input from the local community.
While some regional philanthropists answered the station's request for generous endowment gifts, many members of WVIA reacted negatively to the investment made in the endowment effort, particularly Kelly’s level of compensation. Membership support has fallen off because of this issue, threatening to hinder WVIA’s all-important community service and local programming efforts.
While the endowment project continues to be an important venture in order to create a more sustainable public media for our region, the board did not anticipate the negative reactions from its members. The WVIA board wants its members to know their concerns were heard and the board has taken corrective action to address this important issue.
In order to put WVIA’s local public service first and respond to member’s concerns, Kelly joined with his long-time colleagues and the Board to find a solution. By mutual agreement, Kelly’s four decade employment ended effective December 31, 2014.
Since WVIA was obligated to pay Kelly the remainder due on his three year employment contract, separate funds for this purpose have been donated by private individuals out of respect for Kelly’s 40-year dedicated career at WVIA. Not one penny of Kelly’s remaining contract payment of $291,878 came from membership contributions or grant support. All membership and grant dollars support the programs and projects essential to WVIA’s public service mission.
WVIA continues to "turn outward," expanding active community engagement initiatives with proven measurable results. We welcome the support of civic-minded individuals and organizations as we serve our region with a focus on lifelong learning, health and wellness, economic development, arts and culture, local history, and our quality of life.