New chief selected for Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Public Broadcasting. GPB

Credit: GPB

Credit: GPB

Georgia Public Broadcasting. GPB

The Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission voted unanimously Friday to appoint Bert Wesley Huffman as the chief executive officer for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The move comes after the previous GPB chief, Teya Ryan, resigned in May after leading the broadcasting system for more than a dozen years.

Huffman previously served as president of GPB, where he directed business operations and led marketing operations, communications, sponsorship and fundraising activities. He joined the broadcasting system in 2014 and has been interim CEO of GPB since Ryan’s retirement.

“I want to congratulate Bert as he steps into this role and continues his service at GPB,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement announcing the decision. “I know he will help ensure the agency remains a valued part of the lives of Georgians through informative content.”

Ryan’s departure came at a challenging time for the broadcasting system, which runs nine TV and 20 radio stations throughout the state. An effort by state Senate Republicans in budget negotiations led to the agency’s state funding being cut by 9%, or about $1.4 million. The lawmakers said they’d heard complaints from other unnamed outlets that they felt it was unfair a competitor would get state funds.

While GPB gets the majority of its funding from nonstate sources, such as individual donors, corporate sponsors, federal grants and other means, it relies on its state funding for transmission towers and the educational programs it runs.

Following the budget cut and Ryan’s retirement, the agency announced in June it was canceling the “Political Rewind” and ousting the show’s host, Bill Nigut. The show became a staple for discussions about state and national politics and policy since it began in 2013, particularly as Georgia became a battleground state.

At the time, GPB said it was part of a “rededication” to its core mission and did not say it was because of any funding changes.

Brian Dill, chair of the telecommunications commission, in a statement, expressed confidence in Huffman’s ability to lead, drawing on his past.

“His record of dedicated service helped to set him apart throughout the process of finding the agency’s next leader,” he said, “and we know he will help guide GPB in fulfilling its mission across its television, radio, and educational services throughout the State.”