Current Online | Quattrone named top PBS programmer, 1996
photo of Kathy Quattrone at podiumPBS appoints Kathy Quattrone chief program exec.
Originally published in Current
, July 8 , 1996.
, 45 , who has_been overseeing PBS programming along with acting C.P.E. Bob Ottenhoff , told Current she
had been a candidate for the job from the beginning and was told about her
selection a few days before the announcement in San_Francisco.
Nature host George Page was quick to crown Quattrone Czarina II"--a reference to a facetious tag for the job that PBS created in 1989 to consolidate control over millions of station and CPB program dollars.The title czarina overstated the autonomy and cash given to Lawson , the first c.p.e. , however ; her
power was constricted on every side.
With the appointment of Lawson's successor , there are Quattrones in charge of programming at two competing networks.Her husband Mike , a former programmer at Philadelphia's WHYY , moved to the Washington area for their marriage several years ago and is senior v.p. for primetime programming at the Discovery Channel in Bethesda , Md
We enjoy each other so much that we tend not to be competitive between us , she
said.It's fairly easy to enjoy each others' personal successes.Beyond that , we have a cardinal rule that we never discuss business.We are often literally looking at the same projects..She
came to PBS in 1987 when her
name was Kathy Channell , and was promoted from associate_director of program business affairs , director of schedule management , and v.p. of programming.In March , PBS upped her
to senior v.p.
...Quattrone earned her bachelor's degree and taught secondary school ( 1973-76 ) in Fairmont , W.Va. , and received a master's in journalism at West_Virginia University in Morgantown , where she got her first public TV job in 1976 : production assistant at WNPB
rose to assignment editor , producer/reporter , adult learning supervisor and director of programming and production , and then moved to Orlando , Fla , where_she_was WMFE's program_director in 1984-87.
Surprise and amaze em.
The new c.p.e. promptly announced a restructuring of her
staff , effective July 1 , into three units :.
John Wilson will head both his
scheduling staff and the program-selection and editorial staff , formerly managed by Quattrone
Some time from now , when researchers ask viewers what PBS does for them , Quattrone
wants the viewers to report that it surprises and amazes them.
That's one of PBS's objectives in a 14-page programming plan issued in response to a request from the National Program Policy Committee ( Current
, June 16 ) .
PBS will also begin mining its past seasons more intensively , according to the new programming plan.
Hull will search past seasons for successful programs to repeat in primetime , to offer in syndication or to distribute on cassette or other media , Quattrone
aims to set aside part of PBS's programming budget this year for R&D grants to producers.
Though PBS has informed producers that there aren't any surprises about renewals , final figures are held_up while PBS negotiates a production contract with major producing stations , Quattrone
With a heavy load of continuing series already commanding blocks of primetime , Quattrone
is more interested in backing specials and limited series than new perennials.This is the way to maintain the variety that viewers regard as a strength , she
announced that WNET's celebrity-hosted nature show , In the Wild will be the third project backed from her
biggest pot of new production money--the $ 15 million pledged by the Reader's Digest Association
.The aid to In the Wild will cover some of the development work already done , as_well_as added promotion.Several other projects are under discussion for RDA funding , she
Pubcasters will have chances to discuss the plan in PBS's monthly satellite videoconferences as_well_as at the combined Fall Planning Meeting/PBS Development Conference in September and the Public Television Programmers Association
meeting in November , Quattrone
In guiding the schedule , Quattrone
said , PBS will try to give PBS five qualities that future viewers will appreciate.One is that the programs surprise and amaze , as mentioned earlier.Others are that its programming embodies the nation's diversity , struggles and triumphs ; that it extends into video , online and other product lines ; that the stations are recognized for having local communities in mind , and that the programs are of lasting value.
These characteristics would join seven others that already differentiate PBS in viewers' eyes : its variety , its free-to-everyone price , its lack of interrupting commercials , its depth and comprehensiveness , its programs for kids , and its lack of violence.
The plan also lays_out nine goals for this year :.
3. By the end of FY 1997 , we will increase our funding investments ( in comparison with prior years' commitments ) for key programming genres that have set the standard for quality television. The four equally important mega-genres , Quattrone
are history/nature/science/travel , drama/performance/arts , news/public affairs and children's programs.But it is the drama/performance/arts category that attracts limited audiences and needs the biggest publicity effort , she
said.PBS will extend the Democracy Project beyond the election year as a sub-brand for news and information programming , according to the plan.
4. We will make every effort to help our member stations meet the 90 percent common carriage and coverage targets for carriage designations by the end of FY 1997. Common carriage is a powerful resource for our future growth , increasing the impact of programs and leveraging outside funds.Four series in 1996-97 will be designated as pop-outs for additional promotion effort in_connection_with common carriage.
5. We will endeavor to increase system participation in PTV : The Ready to Learn Service on PBS , to 100 percent national coverage by fall 1997 ( current coverage is 63 percent ) . PBS will revise its outreach requirements for RTL stations to bring in more stations.