The boards of Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS voted today to join together to create a new public media organization, to better serve the community.
The new organization will be led by Scott Finn, current president and CEO of VPR. Steve Ferreira, acting Vermont PBS CEO, will serve as COO.
“It’s never been more important to strengthen public media and build deeper connections within our community,” said Marguerite Dibble, chair of the Vermont PBS Board. “After many successful collaborations, we’ve recognized that these two organizations share a mission and vision to connect Vermonters. By teaming up, we will be better positioned to serve the community.”
“The media landscape is rapidly changing, and the needs of our audiences are evolving,” said Charlie Browne, VPR’s board chair. “Together, our talents and complementary offerings will provide our audience with the ability to experience education, news, culture, the arts, and local content in a variety of formats, to meet their individual needs.”
Nicole Junas Ravlin will serve as the chair of the new board of directors, and Marguerite Dibble will serve as vice chair. The new board will consist of existing VPR and Vermont PBS directors.
Today’s announcement is the first step in building a new, combined public media organization for Vermont. The new organization’s anticipated launch date is July 1, 2021, and is contingent upon regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission and IRS recognition of tax-exempt status.
Over the next several months, VPR and Vermont PBS will work together to develop an integration plan. Both entities, along with their respective boards, will continue to exist independently throughout the integration period.
“The staff and supporters of both organizations will play an integral role in shaping the new organization,” said Finn. “Over the next few months, we’ll be reaching out across our listening and viewing areas, to connect with the community as we make plans for the future.”
Existing listeners and viewers will continue to see and hear all the programming they love, Finn said. By integrating, VPR and Vermont PBS will be able to expand their programming to offer audiences deeper, richer experiences.
“The talent at these two organizations is tremendous,” said Finn. “Their experience, passion, and collective commitment to serving the community inspires me. By coming together, we’ll have the ability to do even more - tell more stories, enhance promotion of art and culture, share educational resources, and connect neighbors. There’s so much opportunity. This is an exciting moment for all of us.”
“Vermont PBS and VPR are institutions,” said Ravlin, who will lead the new board of directors. “Amid so much change in the world, public media, and the service it provides to Vermont and its communities, is more important than ever. By coming together we can ensure our mission strengthens and grows for generations to come.”
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What is happening?
The boards of VPR and Vermont PBS have voted to merge the two organizations, to create a brand new media organization for Vermont. The next step is to seek FCC regulatory approval and IRS tax exempt status. This can be a lengthy process. We anticipate the new organization will launch July 1, 2021. In the meantime, both organizations will continue to operate normally, independent of one another.
Why is this happening?
For the past year, the boards of VPR and Vermont PBS have studied the question of whether the two organizations could better serve Vermont together. Their finding on this question was a definitive yes (read the executive summary of the report prepared by Public Media Company here). Our organizations have much in common including our missions, core values and devotion to public service. But we also complement one another; we can combine our expertise and capabilities to best meet the evolving media needs of people in our region. Finally, by bringing our two strong organizations together as one we can best weather the challenging conditions that threaten local media and the critical service we provide to inform, entertain, educate and inspire the communities we serve.
How will this affect me?
As a public service organization, our first priority is our community, and we’ll be building this new organization with you in mind. We anticipate that we will be able to offer our community a deeper and richer experience, while preserving the things you love most about VPR and Vermont PBS. Throughout the interim period, we will be engaging with our community to seek input as we plan for the new organization, and we’ll communicate with you throughout the process.
What will happen to my favorite programs and hosts?
There won’t be any immediate changes as a result of the planned integration. Over time, our programming and services will grow. Together we will be able to provide more of the content you love, in more ways, to suit your needs and preferences.
How did the boards make this decision?
Last fall, members of the two boards decided to take a serious look at the feasibility of combining the two organizations. The idea had been discussed many times over the years, and they decided to pursue a formal study. Public Media Company was hired to analyze the opportunity - you can read the executive summary of their report here. After many months of reviewing data, the boards decided we’d be stronger together, and better able to serve your needs. Today (Sept. 9, 2020), they officially voted to merge.
Who is on the new board?
Nicole Junas Ravlin
What happens to the existing boards?
Both boards will continue to exist until the closing, which we anticipate will occur in July 2021.
Is one organization taking over?
No. VPR and Vermont PBS will have equal weight, and will play equal roles, as we build the new organization.