Telethon-Averse Former NBC News Chief to Take Over WNET

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Big changes may be in store for that tote-bag dispensary known as Channel 13: Its new leadership comes with serious commercial-TV credentials. Its CEO of twenty years, William F. Baker, is stepping down (How old is Baker? He created Charlie Rose … ), and he’s being replaced by Neal Shapiro, former president of NBC News. Baker, a well-known character, came close to personifying public TV, with all its attendant quirks. “His unusual range of avocations,” per his official bio, “includes amateur radio, horology, astronomy, electronics, sailing, and polar exploration.” (To which we can only respond: “What’s an avocation?”) Thirteen’s largest ratings night under Baker was its worldwide telecast of the Tall Ships parade in 1992, which he himself hosted. By contrast, Shapiro is the man who decided it would be solid entertainment to trap and arrest pedophiles on camera. And yet even so, Shapiro seems a bit snobbish about the world of public TV. How does he feel about begging for donations on the air? “I’ve won a lot of Emmys,” he sniffs to the Times, “but I don’t think I’ll win one more for [that].”

Changes in Top Leadership Are Expected at Channel 13 [NYT]