William F. Baker (television)

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William F. "Bill" Baker
William F. Baker.jpg
Born William Franklin Baker
(1942-09-20) September 20, 1942 (age 71)
Cleveland, Ohio

William Franklin "Bill" Baker (born September 20, 1942) directs the Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Education, and Public Policy at Fordham University, where he is also Journalist-in-Residence and a professor in the Graduate School of Education. He is a distinguished professor at IESE Business School (ranked #1 globally by The Economist) and is President Emeritus of WNET, New York’s public media station and the premiere source of PBS programs nationwide. Over the four decades of his career, Dr. Baker has been a broadcaster, executive, author, sought-after public speaker, academic, and explorer.

Baker is co-author of the books Every Leader is an Artist (McGraw Hill, 2012) and Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results (American Management Association, 2008). Baker also hosted the PBS documentary Leading with Kindness which premiered on public television in 2008.

Baker’s career spans four decades. During his twenty years as chief executive officer of WNET, he distinguished himself as one of America’s most prolific fundraisers, raising over $1 billion for the station, and establishing the largest endowment in the history of public television. Among many other accomplishments at WNET, Baker introduced the landmark program Charlie Rose, oversaw the station’s transition to digital broadcasting, and launched WNET’s first of many cable channels, MetroArts/Thirteen.

Before joining WNET, he was president of Westinghouse Television and chairman of their cable and programming companies. At Westinghouse, Baker introduced Oprah Winfrey as a talk show host and established PM Magazine as the #1 syndicated program in America in the 1980s. During Baker’s tenure, Westinghouse also launched five cable networks, including the Discovery Channel and the Disney Channel.

Baker is the executive producer of the The Face: Jesus in Art, a landmark Emmy-winning feature film that traces the image of Jesus Christ in art around the world and across two millennia. The Face premiered nationwide on public television in 2001 and also enjoyed a limited theatrical release. He is also executive producer of the forthcoming film SACRED, which is being made by an international network of independent filmmakers and will depict sites and rituals from the sacred calendar of a diversity of world religions. The film will have theatrical premiers in New York, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv before being broadcast on television on PBS in America and the BBC in the United Kingdom.

Baker is the recipient of seven Emmy Awards and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Management Hall of Fame and received the Mark Schubart Award from the Lincoln Center Institute, given to individuals who most exemplify the Institute’s ideal of integrating the arts with education. He has also been inducted into Broadcasting & Cable’s Hall of Fame and the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. In addition to numerous other awards, Baker has received the Gabriel Personal Achievement Award, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Awards and the 1987 Trustees Emmy Award, given in recognition of outstanding contribution to the advancement of television.

Baker is also the co-author of Down the Tube: An Insider’s Account of the Failure of American Television (Basic Books, 1998) and the author of Lighthouse Island: Our Family Escape (Ruder Finn Press, 2004).

Baker is former Chairman of the National Parks System Advisory Board, and serves on the board of Rodale Press. He holds a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University, and seven honorary doctorates from universities in America and Europe. In cooperation with Fordham University, he teaches The Business of the Performing Arts, Juilliard’s only business course.

Dr. Baker’s long-standing commitment to promoting education led him to establish WNET’s Educational Resources Center, the nation’s most prolific trainer in multimedia teaching techniques. He also founded the Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Education, & Public Policy at Fordham University, and was an annual speaker at WNET’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning.

His interests include astronomy, horology, and polar science, and he is the 8th person in history to have stood on both the North and South Poles.

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