Interns One-on-One with Paula Kerger

By Barry Blitch

Being a PBS intern allows you to meet some influential, accomplished, and all around smart and talented people (including the likes of Curious George and Daniel Tiger, of course). We had the privilege of sitting down one-on-one with PBS’s President and CEO, Paula Kerger, who shared insight into the vision for PBS as well as some life advice that she’s picked up along the way.

Kerger had recently returned from the twice-yearly TCA Press Tour, which PBS opened to much success and buzz. She mentioned it demonstrates the importance of the changing new media landscape. With vast methods and combinations of using and consuming media, it’s important for organizations as well as individuals to forge their own successful path in it.
Kerger speaks at the TCA Press Tour

Speaking of forging a path, Paula Kerger also gave us some wisdom on how to be successful in our future careers:

1)    Seek out mentors from whom you can learn. Most people are generous with information.
2)    Don’t put yourself in a box. Remain flexible and ready to take a leap. Even when a new role feels like a “step back”, it provides you a new experience.
3)    Get involved in the community. We can all get a lot by giving back. It just may help us gain connections at the same time.

Then she turned over the floor, giving us an opportunity to ask questions. First off: what is her day-to-day actually like? Personally, she talked about training for triathlons and keeping up with her Twitter. While at PBS there is no normal day, she typically spends time talking to the press, meeting with leaders on Capitol Hill, and conversing with member stations.

Part of Kerger’s vision is moving forward with a combined national/local #pubmedia force. One example is connecting to local filmmakers and showcasing their work on public TV. She believes there’s a lot of opportunity to bring different voices to the forefront. Similarly, when asked why social media is important, she said that it’s a way to share opinions, and PBS has always benefited from public discussions on everything from art to politics to Downton Abbey.

A great question came from our own Brionne Griffin, who asked what Paula Kerger wanted her legacy to be. Kerger responded that she wanted it to be about the people she leaves behind, who are at the heart of our organization. She hopes that talent continues to be attracted to public media. 

We interns can vouch that it’s definitely a great place to be.