State News

Vermont PBS and Vermont Public Radio merge

On Sept. 9, the boards of Vermont PBS and Vermont Public Radio unanimously voted 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.

VPR and Vermont PBS have recently collaborated on several projects, including polling and candidate debates and VPR now broadcasts Vermont PBS’ “Vermont This Week.”

According to the chairs of the two organizations, Nicole Ravlin for VPR and Marguerite Dibble for VTPBS, the organizations have been collaborating for several years and have been informally talking about merging for the last couple and about a year ago started talking seriously about a merger.

VPR CEO Scott Finn said they and other media partners will continue collaborating, but no current programming or staff will be cut.

VPR has about 60 employees and VTPBS has about 43. VPR has revenues of $9.4 million and VTPBS has $7.8 million. Their combined assets will be nearly $100 million.

At this point, Finn said, they have not worked out the facilities.

VPR has its recently updated, environmentally sustainable studio on Troy Avenue in Colchester. VTPBS still has its studio around the corner at Fort Ethan Allen, but has moved its offices to downtown Winooski. Finn said besides the logistics of merging radio and TV, Covid has meant that many staff are still working remotely.

Financial stability was brought up several times during a late afternoon Zoom press conference on Tuesday. The questions of “why aren’t they one organization” has been asked many times over the years. In other markets the public radio and television are under one roof. Now they finally will be here.

The merger requires FCC approval, which the organizations anticipate will not be an issue. They anticipate closing on the merger next spring.

“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.”

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 viewers and listeners 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.

“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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