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Terrell Cass, President WLIW Channel 21

April 11, 2008 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Our invited speaker this morning was Terrel Cass, the president and General Manager of WLIW channel 21. He is a dyed-in-the-wool television executive with a long and deep backround in Public Television. In his stewardship role at WLIW he has presided over a remarkable change in technology and production capabilities. WLIW is the third most watched public television station in the nation, and produces many original programs for distribution to other public stations.

He began by discussing the diversity of media that is available to us. And while the diversity of delivering information has expanded dramatically, we have sufferred a paucity of good content. He panned internet sites like You-tube and Myspace as well as those dumb-ass (my words) "reality" shows. Showing people eating worms were not among his favorites. An audience volunteered that daytime soaps be included. Terrel said soaps are a "cultural oasis" compared to what’s out there.

Cass then went on to speak about the political landscape changing in the ways that issues are brought to the people and how money is raised. He implied that there were pluses and minuses in modern day media as it relates to politics.

His societal concerns were discussed and he had little good to say about the trend, while conceding that programs like "John Adams" were excellent. The News Hour" with Jim Lehrer is a good example of in-depth news. This model has been emulated by programs like 20/20 but the usual good reporting on news has been relagated to cheap entertainment because good reporting doesn’t come cheap. WLIW also owns the US distribution rights to BBC World News. BBC offers Americans a better window on the world in that it is not American-centric. Lastly, we discussed the ethic series productions and the productions of "Visions" A series that has taken us to many places in the world with the most sophisticated and breathtaking aerial photography