The SPI Files: Anne Gleason, WTTW

by Amy Baroch, Station Products & Innovation

Last week, we took a break from spotlighting our new Station Advisory Council (SAC) members to meet with PBS Interactive's Jayme Swain about the Online Film Festival. This week, we are back on track introducing you to our great committee with WTTW's Anne Gleason.

Who are you and what do you do at WTTW?
I’m Anne Gleason and I oversee marketing, membership and our websites ( and

How long have you been with WTTW?
I’ve been at WTTW for about 9 years.

Before WTTW, what did you do?
I started out in PR at the Art Institute of Chicago, and then worked in the publishing industry for a few years on both the for-profit side at Times Mirror and at the non-profit American Library Association. Somewhere in there I worked at a startup magazine – it was a national consumer magazine and website for the book world, which was later bought by Barnes & Noble. In all of these jobs, I was focused primarily on marketing, promotion, and Web/e-communications.

If you didn't work in public media, what would you be doing?
Probably working in commercial media or for a consumer brand with affinity to PBS. Or traveling the world.

Explain WTTW in Twitter-style, 140 characters or less.
Your Window to the World, WTTW is the best for #local, #independent news, #kids!

You’ve served (and continue to serve) on several #pubmedia advisory boards. What advice would you give to other station professionals who are interested in getting involved in other projects outside their organizations?
I would advise other station colleagues to get involved in as many cross-system projects as possible. It can be time consuming but the impact it will have on the work you do locally is worth the time and effort. A lot of the big steps we’ve taken on many fronts here at WTTW have come out of our connections to these projects and through the people we’ve met in these groups.

WTTW is one of our Alpha Test Stations for Station Bento. What are some of the things you are most excited about regarding this project?
Personally, I’m most excited about the Open Bento phase of the project. We’re looking forward to working and collaborating with PBS Interactive and other stations to develop portable tools and feeds that will be usable by stations at the local level.

As one of the newest members of our Station Advisory Council, what do you hope to see PBS Interactive accomplish this year?
Building on what I said earlier, I hope PBS Interactive can aggressively push out on-the-ground tools that will help stations make their online experiences better. There have been some great leaps forward in the past few years – equipping stations with advanced video player options, inviting stations to put local content in the national PBS Mobile App, etc. If I had to pick one important focus area for the coming year, it would be mobile optimization -- moving all Web/COVE video to HTML5, working towards mobile compatibility of all content and tools, and helping stations with responsive design and layout.

What do you see as the future for public media and how does WTTW fit into that vision?
There has been a lot of talk in the media about the relevance of PBS. Some of this discussion was sparked by the recent and mainstream popularity of Downton Abbey. I think it’s important that public media orgs, including WTTW, make it a priority to be and stay relevant, and to stay focused on what we can do well, what is unique about what we do, and what value we add to the marketplace. I also think it’s important that NPR and PBS and other public media entities that may sprout up work together and more closely to mobilize resources.

And – just for fun – a few quick-fire questions:

iPhone or Android? BlackBerry. That’s right. I’m still a fan of the keyboard and the phone itself, and have an iPad for other things.
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
Blog platform of choice? WordPress, for blogs specifically.
Elmo or Grover? Grover.
I am currently listening to… NPR, on-demand.
I am currently reading… Old New Yorkers.
I’m currently watching… I have a weakness for reality TV…Amazing Race, Survivor, etc...
Most overused phrase: I’ll go with a word instead of a phrase: “engagement.


  1. Totally agree on "engagement" Anne. Reminds me more of targeting than inclusion & collaboration.

    I think our relevance also reaches beyond content: It's the give & take we have with all of our viewers and ways we can help invite them be part of our game that will set us apart and increase our value with all of them versus other media.

    The bottom line for us will be not only how we interact & invite them and keep up the high level of respect we ought to have for them, too.

  2. Nice post. Love the comments about working together across NPR & PBS and learning from others around the industry. Thanks for the insights into Anne and WTTW.