American Public Television President and CEO Cynthia Fenneman to Retire in May 2023Led APT through digital transformation and central to the launch of national multicast channel Create and distribution of WORLD
BOSTON, MA (August 24, 2022) – American Public Television (APT), the leading syndicator of content to U.S. public TV stations nationwide, announced today that APT president and CEO Cynthia Fenneman will step down after 22 years as chief executive. Fenneman will remain through May 31, 2023, as the APT Board of Trustees conducts a search for her successor.
During her tenure, Fenneman led the company in its digital transformation and other important strategic and creative pursuits – from the 2006 launch of national multicast channel Create TV and APT’s 2010 distribution of WORLD channel with partners The WNET Group and GBH; to the premiere of APT PitchFest in 2018, and the streaming initiative of APT content in PBS Passport in 2021. With more than four decades of experience in media, Fenneman has been honored with 46 international, national, and regional awards, as producer or executive producer, including 12 Emmy® awards and a Peabody award.
“APT and public media stations around the country have been the beneficiaries of Cynthia’s strategic leadership over the course of her tenure as president and CEO. Because of Cynthia’s tireless dedication and rigorous pursuit of excellence, APT enjoys both a national and international reputation as a creative and forward-thinking business partner for independent producers and providers across the globe,” said Mare Mazur, chair of the APT Board of Trustees, and president and general manager of Vegas PBS. “The board and I congratulate Cynthia on her numerous achievements and are grateful to her for establishing APT as a nimble and thriving enterprise in this ever-changing media landscape.”
“What an absolute privilege it has been to lead American Public Television. I have had the great fortune to enjoy a most satisfying, highly stimulating career in media. From day one in broadcasting, I have always been drawn to the power of the human story - to create understanding, educate, make us better people… and sometimes just to help us find joy. It’s been a delight to work with the highly talented team at APT, our amazingly determined and creative producers, and tremendous colleagues across public media and internationally to do our best to well serve viewers,” says Fenneman. “After working on strategic plans at numerous media companies, I am excited to work on fulfilling my personal one. There’s a big world out there that beckons me, and a vibrant local community to enjoy. I look forward to having the gift of time to invest in interests, learning, family, friends, travel, and possibly select consulting. I know APT has a terrific future ahead with the savvy executive team in place, a great staff, and the dynamic APT trustees who I am confident will select a very strong successor."
Fenneman oversaw APT’s successes in public media, including the premiere of public television’s first HD series, Smart Travels – Europe with Rudy Maxa; the acquisition of linear live streaming rights for APT content to help expand stations’ reach via YouTube TV and their websites; and APT’s role in the multi-organization, PBS-led sIX interconnection project, which is instrumental in paving the way for the system’s transition to file-based video delivery and processes. Under her leadership, APT continues to distribute programming for many of public television’s most recognizable faces, including Rick Steves, Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster (America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Country), Ming Tsai, Lidia Bastianich, Christopher Kimball, Pati Jinich, Kevin Belton, Samantha Brown, Nick Stellino, Bob Ross (Joy of Painting) and many more. Additional iconic programs include some of the U.K.’s top rated prime time drama series, such as Doc Martin and Midsomer Murders; pledge titles Bee Gees: One Night Only, and Great Scenic Railway Journeys; and international co-production Jesus: Countdown to Calvary, hosted by Hugh Bonneville. This roster of flagship talent and content has strengthened the company’s position as the largest syndicator of content in public broadcasting. To ensure APT’s vitality to serve public media, Fenneman has overseen its diversification of revenue streams and a fund balance which has grown more than 1100%.
Fenneman’s commitment to serving diverse audiences spans decades in public media. She was a co-developer of the series VOCES from Latino Public Television, encouraged the launch of Pacific Heartbeat from Pacific Islanders in Communications, and supported APT’s long standing distribution of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange from Black Public Media, along with hundreds of other programs that tackle the many facets of diversity in our nation. As the executive in charge of Create TV and CreateTV.com, she has overseen its tremendous growth and popularity as one of media’s premiere lifestyle digital channels. Fenneman initiated national/local partnerships such as Hometown Create, featuring local stations’ best lifestyle content; and mined new and diverse talent through the annual Create Cooking/Crafts Challenges, where station viewers vie to launch their own digital series.
“Cynthia applied her vast range of experience from the worlds of broadcasting and cable and took APT to a new level,” noted Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of The WNET Group, “She and team have been laser-focused on serving stations and their audiences. Cynthia has been a tireless advocate, a skilled operator and a visionary leader.”
In 1977, Fenneman began her career in commercial television in content production and management positions at Westinghouse Broadcasting’s affiliates WJZ/Baltimore, KPIX/San Francisco, and KYW/Philadelphia (the flagship station for Group W). Her first foray in public television began in 1986 when she moved to New England to be with her future husband, and soon became director of broadcasting at the now New Hampshire PBS. Later, as an independent producer and president of Fenneman Productions, Inc., she served as executive producer for the award-winning A&E Biography documentary on Christa McAuliffe, the then-PBS lifestyle series Ciao Italia, APT fundraising specials, and content for other broadcasters. Her production executive work includes a wide range of programming, ranging from the Live Aid highlights special from London, and U.S. presidential primary debates; to daily live news, and morning talk TV shows. During her years at Evening Magazine, she was the leading producer of stories for national distribution on PM Magazine, distributed in more than 100 markets. Before being named president and CEO of American Public Television in 2001, Fenneman served as major projects executive on the launch team for Discovery Health Channel from 1999-2001. Prior to that, she was a consultant to APT, and special projects director for PBS’s Democracy Project and national/local initiatives in the ’90s. For many years, she has been a frequent juror for the International Emmys, National Emmys, duPont Columbia Awards, Realscreen Awards, Banff World Media Festival Awards, and Seoul International Drama Awards. She is a graduate of Furman University’s inaugural class for the Public Media Diversity Leaders Initiative.
Fenneman currently serves on the PBS Interconnection Committee as its longest-standing member, Board of Trustees for Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH as its chair, the Harvard Travelers Club Council, Board of Advisors for the Appalachian Mountain Club, and York Harbor Reading Room Board. Her past board service includes Latino Public Broadcasting Executive Committee, Portsmouth Community Radio as a founding board member, Junior League of Boston, and Children’s Museum of Portsmouth, where she was chair. Fenneman is a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Television Academy, College Club of Boston, and The Vincent Club. She has also served as a mentor for Public Media Women in Leadership.
About American Public Television
American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. Founded in 1961, APT distributes 250 new program titles per year and more than one-third of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. APT’s diverse catalog includes prominent documentaries, performance, dramas, how-to programs, classic movies, children’s series and news and current affairs programs. Midsomer Murders, America’s Test Kitchen, AfroPoP, Rick Steves’ Europe, Pacific Heartbeat, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television, Legacy List with Matt Paxton, Front and Center, Lidia’s Kitchen, Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen, Simply Ming, The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, Front & Center, James Patterson’s Kid Stew and NHK Newsline are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service and distributes Create®TV — featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming — and WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.
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