06-21-2018  7:06 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington, California and at least nine other states are planning to sue the Trump administration over its separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the president's executive order halting the practice is riddled with caveats and fails to...

Oregon allows rancher to kill a wolf after calves attacked

ENTERPRISE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon wildlife managers have issued a permit that allows a rancher in Eastern Oregon to kill a wolf after three of his calves were injured by the predators last week.The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday they confirmed that the calves were hurt by wolves...

Infant found at Seattle encampment in protective custody

SEATTLE (AP) — A 5-month-old infant found at a Seattle homeless encampment is in protective custody as police investigate child neglect.Seattle Police said Thursday on its blog that the child was removed in late May from an unsanctioned homeless encampment where people were reportedly using...

Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington, California and at least nine other states are planning to sue the Trump administration over its separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the president's executive order halting the practice is riddled with caveats and fails to...


How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...


3 men face hate crimes charges in Minnesota mosque bombing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury added federal civil rights and hate crimes violations to the charges three Illinois men face in the bombing of a mosque in suburban Minneapolis, prosecutors announced Thursday.The new five-count indictment names Michael Hari, 47, Michael McWhorter, 29, and Joe...

Intel CEO out after consensual relationship with employee

NEW YORK (AP) — Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after the company learned of what it called a past, consensual relationship with an employee.Intel said Thursday that the relationship was in violation of the company's non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers. Spokesman...

Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children

WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia's governor ordered state officials Thursday to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility who said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete...


Koko the gorilla used smarts, empathy to help change views

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Koko the gorilla, whose remarkable sign-language ability and motherly attachment to pet cats helped change the world's views about the intelligence of animals and their capacity for empathy, has died at 46.Koko was taught sign language from an early age as a scientific...

Directors Guild says industry is still mostly white and male

NEW YORK (AP) — A new study by the Directors Guild of America finds that despite high-profile releases like "Get Out" and "Wonder Woman," film directors remained overwhelmingly white and male among the movies released last year.The DGA examined all 651 feature films released theatrically in...

Demi Lovato sings about addiction struggles on 'Sober'

NEW YORK (AP) — Demi Lovato celebrated six years of sobriety in March, but her new song indicates she may no longer be sober.The pop star released "Sober " on YouTube on Thursday, singing lyrics like: "Momma, I'm so sorry I'm not sober anymore/And daddy please forgive me for the drinks...


No. 1 Sun: Phoenix takes Ayton; Trae Young, Doncic swapped

NEW YORK (AP) — The Phoenix Suns stayed close to home for their first No. 1 pick. The Dallas Mavericks...

Charles Krauthammer, prominent conservative voice, has died

NEW YORK (AP) — Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and pundit who helped shape and...

ABC orders 'Roseanne' spinoff for fall minus Roseanne Barr

LOS ANGELES (AP) — ABC, which canceled its "Roseanne" revival over its star's racist tweet, said Thursday...

Suu Kyi says outside hate narratives driving Myanmar tension

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A social media account run by the office of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi quotes...

Merkel pledges 0 million loan for troubled Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday promised a 0 million loan to troubled...

Eurozone gets deal to pave way for end to Greece's bailout

LUXEMBOURG (AP) — Eurozone nations agreed on the final elements of a plan to get Greece out of its...

Kam Williams Special to The Skanner News

First Lady Pat Nixon meeting with Big Bird from Sesame Street in the White House on Dec. 20, 1970.

Neal Shapiro is President and CEO of New York City's WNET, America's flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces such acclaimed PBS series as Great Performances, American Masters, Nature, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. 

Shapiro is an award-winning producer and media executive with a 25-year career spanning print, broadcast, cable and online. At the helm of WNET, Shapiro has revitalized programming, nearly doubled arts and culture programming, placed a new emphasis on local programming and community engagement, set new fundraising records and inaugurated a new, state-of-the-art studio at Lincoln Center.

In addition to WNET's signature national series, Shapiro has overseen the launch of a number of innovative local programs (including American Graduate, MetroFocus, NYC-Arts, Need To Know and Women, War & Peace) which make the most of New York City's rich resources and vibrant community.

Before joining WNET in 2007, Shapiro was President of NBC News, leading its top-rated news programs, including Today, NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press, as well as Dateline NBC.  Shapiro was executive producer of Dateline NBC when it was a mainstay of NBC's schedule. And in his 13 years at ABC News, he was a writer and producer for PrimeTime Live and World News Tonight.

Shapiro has won numerous awards, including 32 Emmys, 31 Edward R. Murrow Awards and 3 Columbia DuPont awards. He serves on the Boards of Tufts University, Gannett Company, the Investigative News Network and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Neal lives in New York City with his wife, ABC News Correspondent Juju Chang, and their three sons.

Kam Williams: Hi Neal, thanks for the interview.

Neal Shapiro: My pleasure, Kam.

KW: I feel like I already know you from watching you introduce movies every Saturday night.  

NS: [Chuckles] I have to admit that of all the things I do that's actually the most fun.

KW: What is your favorite genre of film?

NS: Film noir. I'm especially a big fan of Humphrey Bogart.

KW: Congratulations on PBS' 50th anniversary! What special programming do you have planned?

NS: This is not only a great way to look back and celebrate what we've accomplished, but also a great way to think about the challenges for the next 50 years. Digging through our archives, we found some amazing, early footage we didn't know we had of icons like Dr. Martin Luther King, Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali. So, we're going to do a whole series of specials on news, art and culture. Last month, we led a 7-hour national telethon about the dropout crisis, not to raise money, but to raise awareness and tell people how they can get involved through The United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Clubs, and other organizations. I see part of our role for the next 50 years is to become even more engaged with our community through programs that enable good things to happen.  

KW: Fixing the educational system is a really urgent priority, because we'll lose another generation if nothing is done.

NS: You're exactly right! In New York, we have the biggest school system in the country and therefore we have some of the biggest problem schools in the country. We want to do everything we can to let people know how critical an issue this is. If we don't get this right, we'll lose an entire generation. Nobody wins when a generation can't contribute to society.  

KW: When I attended the Wharton Business School, one of your predecessors, John Jay Iselin, was a guest lecturer in Arts Management. One thing he emphasized stuck with me, namely, that the bottom line was not profit at PBS, but the quality of the art. Was that a hard thing for you to adjust to in coming over from a commercial television network?

NS: He's absolutely right. What's hard to adjust to is being unable to measure your bottom line like you can in the commercial world. How do you measure the ability to touch someone's heart, to give someone comfort or a meaningful experience they might cherish for the rest of their lives?  Those are hard to quantify. So, public television doesn't have the same sort of metrics, which is why, as part of the 50th anniversary, we've been reaching out and asking people, "What has been the importance of the programs we've brought you over the years?" And we've received some inspiring responses, like the one from a woman who grew up in very humble circumstances in the Bronx. Her parents didn't have the means to take her to see live performances in the theater. But thanks to PBS, she still had a front row seat, and today she's a professional dancer. Another person credits the show Nature for the inspiration to become a marine biologist. It's hard to put a price tag on stories like that, but they have real meaning. 

KW: Earlier this year, you ran a fascinating documentary about the late Daisy Bates, the only female to speak at the March on Washington. It was hard for me, as a Black Studies major, to believe that I had never even heard of such an important civil rights figure before.

NS: We have plenty of examples like that which we chronicle in such a way that they can also exist forever in classrooms. Most people don't know that we have an education department and what a huge impact it makes because we offer the content for free to teachers and students all over the country. Nowadays, kids are quite comfortable learning from video in a way that you and I weren't, since we didn't have much of an opportunity to watch them in school.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: I never thought WQXR--The Radio Station of the NYTIMES-- would sell its frequency to a pop music station and move classical music to a less strong frequency with classical music reaching far fewer people. Is bringing The Arts to public media always going to be about raising enough money? How can we best protect public access to the arts from the whim of the financial marketplace and from political encroachment because of censorship issues?

NS: That's a very good question. When you look at The Arts, there is not a great commercial model for it. And there never has been one. The Fine Arts have always been supported by philanthropy and thereby made available to everyone. I don't think that model's about to change. In fact, there are likely to be even more stresses on it, because there are more demands for the very valuable radio and TV frequencies. So, I think we'll always be reliant upon the kindness of strangers to keep The Arts alive. 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

NS: That's another very good question. I'll have to think about that. I don't just want to come up with a self-serving question.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

NS: I'm delighted. I love doing the work of the angels. I get to do programs of lasting import, even if they might not reach a lot of people sort term.  

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

NS: "The Passage of Power," Robert Caro's latest book about LBJ.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

NS: Anything that I can barbecue. I love barbecuing. It must be that primal thing about being around a fire. I also enjoy the math involved in cooking on the grill, figuring out the space and what will need more time. 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

NS: I see a happy guy who's been incredibly lucky. So much has gone right for me. And given how hard I work, I figure I'm aging alright.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

NS: Two-part answer. On the grand scale, I would like to find a way for our representatives to have reasonable political dialogue, so we could actually find some solutions for all our problems. I think the country is paralyzed. Second, my wish for me, personally, is I'd like to be manager of the Yankees. That's no reflection on Joe Girardi, who's doing a fine job.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

NS: Being pushed into the deep end of a swimming pool before I learned how to swim, and sinking deeper and deeper in until my father's big giant hand reached down and pulled me out.

KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets," asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?

NS: Good question. I would say my best was launching the local programming we're doing here at Channel 13. My worst decision was doing a show called World Focus which didn't work out because of unfortunate timing.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 

NS: Curiosity.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

NS: As someone who treated people fairly, and who brought out the best in them.

KW: Last chance, can you think of a question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

NS: Yeah, if you could live at another time, what period would you pick?

KW: That'll be the Neal Shapiro question. Which era would you pick?

NS: I think I'd like to live in New York in the Twenties. It was a period of great literature and great art. My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Neal, and best of luck with PBS.

NS: Thank you, Kam. And don't hesitate to call, if you need anything. 


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