Allen Weatherly, executive director of the Arkansas Educational Television Network, has served on more than a dozen committees, task forces and panels in his 34 years working in public television, but he’s still learning and he still looks forward to new seasons of popular shows like Downton Abbey and Sherlock.
Weatherly completed two consecutive terms on the Public Broadcasting Service Board of Directors in November, most recently serving as professional vice chairman for three years.
With 20 years of experience at the AETN headquarters in Conway and 14 more years serving as CEO and executive director of six of the 350 public TV stations nationwide, Weatherly said he thought he knew the ins and outs of public television pretty well, but serving on the PBS Board of Directors proved to be a learning experience.
"It was very educational, benefitting me, the station and Arkansas by taking advantage of some of the programs we learned about by being on the board," he said.
The board meets four times a year just outside the nation’s capitol in Alexandria, Washington to share information, give advice and participate in discussions concerning policy, budget and education.
The board of directors is responsible for governing and setting policy for PBS. In total, the board comprises 27 members: 14 professional members, 12 general directors and the PBS president. Weatherly first ran for a board position in 2007 at the request of PBS President Paula Kerger, and was re-elected in 2010 by PBS member stations in a system-wide vote.
"The objective of the PBS board is to serve all of its members well and fairly, irrespective of the size of the station, its role in the system or its license type," PBS Board Chair Geoffrey Sands said. "In that context, Allen made an immeasurable contribution to the PBS board during his years of service, and in many ways is the ideal person, with the perfect temperament, for serving effectively on the board."
A total policy review looking at what it means to be a member of PBS was one of Weatherly’s most memorable accomplishments during his time on the board, he said. Weatherly also particularly enjoyed his work on the Unserved Areas and Access Committee, which he chaired, for areas that no longer had an operating public broadcasting service.
"Everyone has a right to see a public broadcast," he said. "We worked to figure out how we could still make sure a signal gets there."
Growing up in the Ozarks, Weatherly said his "slow talking Ozarks drawl" worked as a mediator, often giving the group time to take a breather.
"Whenever there was a discussion that involved sensitive or complex issues, we always looked to Allen for his knowledgeable and thoughtful views," Sands said. "He has great sensitivity to differing points of view and is able to come at every issue with understanding and objectively, with absolutely no agenda. Consequently, he just had tremendous respect from me and everyone else on the board."
Weatherly says he could serve another term, but with such a large and talented system, he may let someone else step up and fill the position in the coming years. But with his skills and expertise, he still plans to be involved with PBS management, and still has plans for AETN. There’s no talk of retirement for this public broadcasting pro.
"Even with 20 years and 14 years as CEO, there’s still a lot to do around here," he said. "I’m always trying to improve our process."
Weatherly says pro-development for teachers still has room to grow, and with Downton Abbey’s fourth season kicking off Jan. 5, there’s still some fun stuff to look forward to.
"Board willing, I plan to grow this place," he said.
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