June 16, 2023
To the Oregon Public Broadcasting Community,
As OPB enters its second century of service, it is with mixed emotions that I announce I will be stepping away in 2024 as president and CEO. I informed the OPB board of directors and our senior leadership group of my decision earlier today.
I remain fully committed to leading OPB until the spring or summer of 2024 when we anticipate a new leader will be selected, and I am immensely grateful to the extraordinary OPB community we’ve nurtured together.
This moment compels me to pause, reflect on our collective journey, and express heartfelt appreciation to those who have played a key role over these past 18 years.
My career in public media began during the dawn of the VCR era in the 1980s. Back then, recording programs on tape and watching them at our convenience seemed like a technological marvel. Today, the media landscape is dominated by on-demand, anytime/anywhere access through our phones, computers and TVs, and social media is far and away the most popular source of news for younger generations.
OPB has embraced these transformations while standing tall as a beacon of integrity and trust. Since 2006, we’ve significantly grown OPB’s focus on creating original journalism, increased our broadcast footprint (adding nine radio stations to our radio network as well as KMHD Jazz Radio in Portland), increased service to audiences on digital and social platforms, bolstered our financial stability, and retained the trust of our region.
As for what’s next, the board of directors will soon launch a national search for OPB’s new leader, with a thorough, thoughtful and inclusive process. This is a rare opportunity as OPB has had only two leaders (me and Maynard Orme) since 1986. I plan to stay until the transition is complete, ensuring a seamless handover.
Poetically, my career at OPB coincided with my personal re-immersion into the world of classical music. Since 2008, my side hustle has been as a clarinetist with symphony orchestras and other groups. In that role, I collaborate with many others who play different instruments and roles. We listen, respond and blend sound in harmony for the benefit of our audiences.
My role at OPB is similar in that many people play key parts. There are too many people to singularly name in the orchestra that is our OPB community, so let me be brief yet resounding in my gratitude as I move into this bittersweet encore stage as your president and CEO.
To the OPB staff who work tirelessly playing their parts to create and share the stories of our times, you are the heartbeat of our organization.
To our board of directors (both present and past), your vision and partnership has allowed us to operate and evolve with a singular and steadfast mission focused on the public good.
To our members, your support allows OPB to harness the power of stories to enrich lives and strengthen communities for everyone across Oregon, SW Washington and beyond. And to provide all that OPB can offer for free to everyone.
And to our diverse audiences across the region – and increasingly, around the world – you provide the purpose that motivates us to educate and inspire with insights always rooted in fact.
As for me, I don’t know precisely what the next chapter will bring. I look forward to spending more time with my families (biological and symphonic!), scratching my travel itch, and settling into a different pace than leading a journalism organization allows. My musical career will continue and perhaps expand a bit. And, I hope to continue to find ways to continue to contribute to OPB and public media.
Steven M. Bass, OPB president and CEO