Former Executive Producer Henry Morgenthau Releases New Book

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 3.16.22 PMPassager Books, a not-for-profit press dedicated to publishing the work of older writers, has just released A Sunday in Purgatory, a book of poems by 99-year old Henry Morgenthau III (he’ll be 100 next January).

Henry was a WGBH staffer from 1955 to 1977.  During that time he executive produced a variety of series and documentaries, including “The Negro and the American Promise” (1963) with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, and others; Focus on Metropolis; and Eleanor Roosevelt: Prospects of Mankind (1959-62).  His work won him and WGBH national acclaim, including Emmy, Peabody, UPI, and other awards and nominations. 

Henry’s father, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., was FDR’s Treasury Secretary and played a major role in shaping the New Deal and America’s post WWII policies toward Germany; his grandfather, Henry Morgenthau, was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during WWI and the most prominent American to speak out against the Armenian genocide. 

Photo_of_Henry_Morgenthau_IIIAfter a long and impressive career as a producer and as an author, Henry III began writing poetry in his 90s.

The poems in A Sunday in Purgatory combine memoir (his father “steadying the trembling hand [of FDR] as he mixed Bourbon Old Fashioneds and nibbled caviar, a gift from the Soviet ambassador,” for example), reflections on aging (“Anticipation of death is like looking for a new job”), and wrestling with the tension that exists between being part of a famous American family and yet knowing that he’s an individual, separate from his family history:       

I need to be the person
my friends and family believe me to be…
I can’t be the person I am,
but can’t push him out.
Perhaps he will be stillborn
After I die… 

2016 Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian said, “Henry Morgenthau’s poems are crisp, elegant forays into memory both personal and cultural… His surgical examinations of self and his unflinching stare into mortality define the unique and honest voice of this remarkable first book of poems.”

Poems by Henry Morgenthau

“A Sunday in Purgatory” is a collection of poems filled with mystery, humor and the confessional style of Robert Lowell. Available on Amazon. Read the reviews!

YOU’LL CATCH YOUR DEATH

“You’ll catch your death of cold,” Mother would say
if I went outside without my jacket, cap and mittens.
When I was older, plagued with an infected tooth,
the dentist numbed my nerve with Laughing Gas.
I felt the pain from his drilling but laughed as if

it were hurting someone else, not me.
Then, at Deerfield, my best friend swallowed
a corrosive base in chemistry lab to end his life,
but recovered to graduate. Next year at Dartmouth,
he lay down across the tracks to wait for the train.

Now death has begun to catch up with me.
I’ve lived too long. Merely standing up
and breathing in and out is a serious challenge.
At Ingleside, our retirement home, we progress
from canes, to walkers, to wheelchairs.

In vain we try to push back looming shadows
as frequent announcements of memorial services
are posted where they can’t be mixed:
advertisements luring us to that final vacation.

UPENDED

Can the unseen
be obscene?
Can bad taste
be tasted?
Is a misfit
unfit?
Hurrying to get there,
what is there?

If you think you will slip,
don’t take a trip.
Stay home, take another sip.
If life could extend
with no foreseeable end,
let boredom spirit you
around the bend.

January 12, 2017

From Paul Noble: Last night in Washington DC,  35 relatives and friends came together to celebrate Henry’s 100th birthday. Henry read one of his poems, entertained with his usual wit.

Media Sightings

January 14, 2017

A Century-Old Poet Looks Back — And Fearlessly Forward — In ‘Purgatory’
Interview with Scott Simon, NPR

Henry Morgenthau III was in his 90s when he started to write poetry.

Morgenthau has had an extraordinarily full life. He’s produced award-winning television documentaries, raised children, written a memoir — and yes, his father was the Henry Morgenthau Jr. who was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary.

Now, at age 100, he’s promoting his first book of poetry, called A Sunday in Purgatory. He tells NPR’s Scott Simon that he started writing poetry first because he wanted to establish his own identity, not simply to be a member of a distinguished family. “At the same time, I wanted to recall some of the events that I was privileged to observe … like my poem ‘A Terrific Headache,’ which has to do with my father having dinner with Roosevelt the night before he died.”

Interview Highlights

On knowing FDR

My father’s whole life was tied up with Roosevelt, and I remember that he would come to our house for dinner, and I remember leaning over the banisters from upstairs and hearing him talk and tell stories. He was always a larger than life person.

On what a poem can do

Poems, most poems, my poems, are really metaphor. They are also song. The poetry of the Western world began in ancient Greece — a poet would recite his poem with an instrumental accompaniment. And that goes on to this day, and into a world actually that I’m not familiar with, of hip hop, where they do just that. I think hip hop is doing a lot to make poetry accessible and popular with a much wider audience.

On writing about death

I do think about death. I live in a community where people are … kind of in a purgatory, a waiting place for the end, people passing away just about every week. So I think about it, but I’ve had more than my time. And it’s not something that frightens me. And actually getting it out on paper is a relief.

February 12, 2017

From the Washington Post

Scion of prominent Jewish American family publishes first book of poetry at the age of 100

Last month, retired television producer Henry Morgenthau III turned 100, and he celebrated by publishing his first book of poetry.

“A Sunday in Purgatory,” published by Passager Books at the University of Baltimore, draws from his life as a scion of a prominent Jewish American family that includes his grandfather, Henry Morgenthau, who immigrated to New York from Germany in 1866 and served as ambassador to Turkey, and his father, Henry Morgenthau Jr., treasury secretary under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A younger brother, Robert, served as U.S. district attorney in New York.

The collection also reflects Morgenthau’s recent life in Washington, where he moved from Boston seven years ago to be near family. Sitting in his apartment at the retirement community Ingleside at Rock Creek as snow swirled outside, he spoke of how the city had changed since he lived here in the 1930s…

As a documentarian, he spent extensive time with poets and writers, including Robert Lowell. Footage from his 1963 interview with James Baldwin appears in the newly released film, “I Am Not Your Negro.” In 1991 he wrote “Mostly Morgenthaus,” a book about his famous family. But aside from a brief foray in the fifth grade, he did not begin writing poetry until he participated in a couple of writing workshops in his 90s.

August 4, 2017

The Atlantic: Poem of the Week

This year, in honor of National Poetry Month, we compiled some of the best poems published throughout The Atlantic’s 160-year history… and we didn’t want to stop. Come back every week to read another poem from our archives, and go here to check out our month of poetry recommendations from staff and readers.

Editor’s note: Henry Morgenthau III is a 100-year-old poet. He published his first collection in 2016 at the age of 99. Before that, he was a writer and a documentary filmmaker at WGBH in Boston, working with subjects from James Baldwin to Eleanor Roosevelt. He’s also a memoirist, and the son of the former U.S. treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., but his family connections don’t define his poems—as he told us, “One of the reasons I started writing poetry was to free myself from all that.”

For Morgenthau, freedom comes with humor and insight, in his own distinctive voice. And in his poem “A Sunday in Purgatory,” he finds this freedom even within the would-be confines of his age. It’s the title poem of his book, and we’re delighted to share it below.

—Jeffrey Goldberg

A Sunday in Purgatory, by Henry Morgenthau III

A voluntary inmate immured
in a last resort for seniors,
there are constant reminders,
the reaper is lurking around that corner.
I am at home, very much at home,
here at Ingleside at Rock Creek.
Distant three miles from my caring daughter.

At Ingleside, a faith-based community
for vintage Presbyterians, I am an old Jew.
But that’s another story.
I’m not complaining with so much I want to do,
doing it at my pace, slowly.
Anticipation of death is like looking for a new job.

Then suddenly on a Sunday,
talking recklessly while eating brunch,
a gristly piece of meat lodges in my throat.
I struggle for breath, too annoyed to be scared.
Someone pounds my back to no avail.
Out of nowhere, an alert pint-sized waiter
performs the Heimlich maneuver.
I don’t believe it will work.
It does! Uncorked, I am freed.

Looking up I see the concerned visage and
reversed collar of a retired Navy chaplain,
pinch hitting as God’s messenger for the day.
Had he come to perform the last rites,
to ease my passage from this world to the hereafter?
Don’t jump to dark conclusions.
In World War II on active duty,
he learned the Heimlich as well as the himmlisch.
Knowing it is best administered
to a standing victim,
he rushed to intervene.
On this day I am twice blessed
with the kindness of strangers.

You can listen to a reading by Morgenthau here; read more about his poetry collection from Passager Books here; and contact him here.

Related stories here at WGBH Alumni

WGBH captioners featured in the Globe

From The Boston Globe — July 23, 2015

wgbh-captioningOnly a few people can claim a role in news and entertainment programs as varied as “The Daily Show,” “Orange is the New Black,” “The Price is Right,” and the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.”

But Tim Alves and his team do all that and more at WGBH in Brighton. Alves is a captions operations supervisor with the public broadcaster’s Media Access Group, leading a small team that spells out the dialogue and sounds of about 14,000 hours of television, movies, and online video each year.

“This is essentially live, high-pressure copy editing,” said Alves, who worked for a New Hampshire newspaper and a Los Angeles television station before joining the captions team in 2006. “You’re working on extremely tight deadlines, and that deadline is right now.”

Alves’s Boston staff and a national network of stenographers type thousands of words daily for networks, movie studios, and such online operations as Netflix. Their captions serve the roughly 38 million adults who have some trouble hearing and millions more who read them on televisions in airports and other noisy public places.

For live broadcasts, only a stenographer using a special keyboard can keep up with speakers. If necessary, WGBH can farm out the task to a network of on-call freelancers whose feeds are transmitted to Boston and synchronized with the broadcast.

“In the morning, I come in and I’ll do offline work,” Alves said. “We have scripts and video, and we’ll marry the script to video.” Later, he may switch to a program like “The Price Is Right,” which is beamed to WGBH at 11 a.m. — the same time it’s aired to many viewers.

Alves’s team has a broad portfolio. It captions Public Broadcasting System programs such as “Downton Abbey” and “Nova.” Other networks pay for the services of the WGBH stenographers, who write captions for such shows as “NCIS.”

The group also captions live events, including the Grammys. Every night, a stenographer plugs into a feed of CBS News to write live captions. A WGBH staffer will quickly “butler” the stenographer’s output, cleaning up any mistakes before the program is made available online.

“The technical term we use to describe those employees are steno-captioners. They’re extremely skilled, and they’re very focused,” said Alves. Often, he said, captioners will get into such a groove that they won’t remember what was said just seconds earlier.

Boston-based ‘Frontline’ names new executive producer

From Boston.com — 5/13/2015 

Frontline founder David Fanning has stepped down after three decades as the executive producer of the landmark public television series. He will be replaced by Raney Aronson, the show’s deputy executive producer.

frontline1

This is the first time the top leadership position at the Boston-based investigative documentary series has changed hands.

In its 33 seasons, Frontline has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including 69 Emmys, 31 duPont-Columbia University Awards, 17 Peabody Awards and eight Television Critics Awards. Fanning received his own Lifetime achievement Emmy in 2013.

Fanning will stay with Frontline and, beginning June 1, will develop new projects as executive editor at large, according to a statement released by WGBH, which produces the show.

Aronson has been with the series since 2001.

‘Frontline’ Getting a Change in Leadership

From the New York Times — 5/13/2015

“Frontline,” the PBS documentary series, is getting a leadership change for the first time in its 32-year history. The founding executive producer, David Fanning, is stepping down at the end of the month, and Raney Aronson, the colleague he has been grooming for several years, will take over.

Mr. Fanning, 68, said that he wanted to start making documentary films again, and that he needed to step aside for the show to continue to thrive.

“This is a generational shift,” he said. “There’s no question about it. That’s a discussion that Raney and I have had for some years now, about bringing some younger producers in, identifying them, looking for the next generation. We want ‘Frontline’ to survive.”

Mr. Fanning’s new title will be executive producer at large. He said he would also have an opportunity to “beat the bushes for major funders and donors and new sources of revenue for the series,” he said.

Mr. Fanning began preparing Ms. Aronson for the job years ago, and in 2012 all but named her his heir apparent when he gave her the title of deputy executive producer. He said her leadership would be critical for keeping the show relevant at a tricky time in the media business. He also said bringing in “new blood” was important to keeping the long-form documentary series alive.

“If we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done,” he said. “There aren’t many places left in the world, in television certainly, that does this. You can’t expect the independent film community to operate under the banner of journalism because it’s often not what they do. This kind of journalism matters and these hourlong films, 90-minute, two-hour films, the big multipart series, we do become real works of record. We need them in the culture.”

“Frontline,” which had its debut in 1983, is produced by WGBH in Boston. Over the years it has won 69 Emmys, 31 duPont Columbia University Awards and 17 Peabody awards. “Frontline” recently won awards for a documentary on ISIS and the National Football League’s concussion crisis.

Ms. Aronson, 44, joined the show in 2001. In the last few years, she has made it her priority to work on joint-journalism projects with organizations like ProPublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting and ESPN (the latter pulled out of the concussion documentary “League of Denial,” before it aired, to great controversy). She is also working on partnerships with digital outlets like YouTube and Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism in order to find new ways to broadcast their work.

She said she had been “given the gift of time” over the last three years to work on these types of partnerships before stepping into the big job.

“In a lot of ways, we’ve been working on the ideas that I care about, like working aggressively to find new audiences,” she said.

But with every prospective deal with a player in new media, she said, her job remained fundamentally in line with what Mr. Fanning created decades ago.

“When I look to the future, my biggest gaze is on making sure we always protect the big important work we should be doing,” she said. “That is what I care about most: protecting the big important journalism.”

Morash to receive Lifetime Achievement Emmy

Russ MorashFrom NATAS via BuzzworthyRadioCast.com

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced that Russ Morash, the producer and director of the historic, “The French Chef,” with Julia Child and the creator of “This Old House” and many other iconic public television programs will be honored at the 41st Annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy® Awards with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Fifty-four years of combined programming, 13 Emmy® Awards, and one groundbreaking career later, the father of how-to TV most emphatically deserves a lifetime achievement award,” said Malachy Wienges, Chairman, NATAS. “I am thrilled that Russ has been chosen as this year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree,” said David Michaels, Senior Executive Producer of the Daytime Emmy® Awards. “This is part of our conscious effort to acknowledge the career contribution of those people who work in the Creative Arts. We couldn’t be happier for him and we’re very excited to be presenting this honor at the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy® Award gala surrounded by all his peers!

“When I first moved from New Zealand to the US almost 30 years ago, the Daytime TV shows that caught my attention were created by Russ Morash,” said Brent Stanton, Executive Director, Daytime Emmy® Awards. “His innovation of using specialists in the role of hosts on such shows as “This Old House,” “The Victory Garden” and “The New Yankee Workshop” helped to pave the way for the proliferation of the Lifestyle genres on television and the internet.”

“As a brilliant creator/producer/director, Russ Morash used his personal passion and love for well prepared food, gardening, home improvement/repair and woodworking to develop a whole new genre of television programs,” said Norm Abram, Master Carpenter, This Old House and Host, The New Yankee Workshop. “Russ always wanted to learn more himself, but more importantly he wanted to share knowledge with others. The experts and craftsmen he featured on the shows he created did just 2 that. Generations have been and will continue learning “how to” thanks to Russ who started it all over 50 years ago with Julia Child.”

Russ Morash

Russ Morash was fresh out of college when he entered the young world of television in 1957. At the time, his employer, Boston’s WGBH, had been on the air for only two years. He immediately put the theater training he’d received at Boston University to work mounting productions and dealing with talent. He knew talent when he saw it, and when he began working with a “strange woman with this strange accent” named, Julia Child, “The French Chef” — and “how-to television” — were born. Over time, Russ’s personal enthusiasms — cooking, gardening, home repair, woodworking — would become, through his choice of talent, tone, and content, America’s first foray into “reality television.”

In 1975, he dragged two huge studio cameras outside to record the first episode of “Crockett’s Victory Garden” in raised beds set up in the station’s parking lot. Three years later, he convinced his bosses to buy a dilapidated Victorian home so that he could document its rehabilitation under the hammer of Norm Abram and the showmanship of Bob Vila. “This Old House” has been running for 35 years and counting!

Part of Russ’s “mad genius,” according to his Emmy® Award-winning cameraman Dick Holden, was to free the TV-making process from as many technical encumbrances as possible, pushing portable cameras and wireless microphones into new areas. “For electronic field camera use, everything we were used to seeing before changed with those shows,” says Holden, “and most of what we see today began then.”

His remarkable success continued with the launch of “The New Yankee Workshop” in 1989 and “Ask This Old House” in 2002. All of Russ’s programs are all based on a simple and revolutionary idea: authentic information, presently clearly by experts themselves. Often, through sheer force of will, he brought these programs into being. He taught and inspired a generation of TV producers who follow in his footsteps. Ultimately, his legacy is generations of TV viewers who value the expertise, work ethic, and skill of craftsmen and women and who know the true value of a job well done.

NOVA digitally recreates the invasion of Normandy

From the Boston Globe D day

Seventy years after American, British, and Canadian troops stormed onto the beaches of Normandy, a new generation of scientists are digitally recreating the machines that got them there.

Dassault Systèmes, a French manufacturer of simulation software with US headquarters in Waltham, teamed up with the Boston public television station WGBH on “D-day’s Sunken Secrets,” an episode of the science documentary series “Nova.”

Among the show’s highlights: three-dimensional simulations of the landing craft that brought troops ashore, the gliders that dropped American commandos deep inside Nazi-occupied France, and a pair of vast portable harbors used to unload thousands of tons of supplies onto the beaches.

The Victory Garden is back

26shshowaVictory Garden’s edibleFEAST,” a PBS television series debuting locally March 29, aims to be the best of the old and new.

The 13 episodes are a combination of vintage clips from the long-running “The Victory Garden” and new video from Edible Feast, a member of Edible Communities Inc., publishers of “Edible” magazines. The new segments feature Daniel Klein, who introduces viewers to sustainable food practices; the chef also stars in an online weekly documentary called The Perennial Plate, which won a 2013 James Beard award.

The original “Victory Garden,” created by WGBH, aired from 1975 to 2009. The new iteration will feature Klein on the road, from New York to Oregon, harvesting sea urchin or growing shiitake mushrooms. Classic video clips will feature Roger Swain in the garden, advising on planting leeks, differentiating varieties of cherry tomatoes, and more, with Marian Morash in the kitchen preparing vegetable dishes such as rhubarb crisp and Chinese cabbage salad.

“Our hope is to offer existing fans a new take on the series and introduce the next generation of viewers to a more contemporary version of one of television’s most iconic franchises,” says WGBH executive producer Laurie Donnelly.

Roger Fisher, 90, creator of “The Advocates”

Roger D. Fisher, a Harvard law professor who was a co-author of the 1981 best seller “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” and whose expertise in resolving conflicts led to a role in drafting the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel and in ending apartheid in South Africa, died on Saturday in Hanover, N.H. He was 90…

Although Professor Fisher mostly worked behind the scenes, he did create and moderate a series on public television called “The Advocates.” A court-style program that took on one policy issue at a time and examined it in detail from different perspectives, it ran for several years on PBS and won a Peabody Award.

A strong advocate for using the medium of television as a means to disseminate both legal issues and current events to a broader audience, Fisher proposed the Peabody Award-winning television program “The Advocates” in 1969. The program focused on “stimulating public participation, and understanding, by focusing on realistic choices that must be made in the future, by having both sides of the question presented, and by demonstrating the interest that public officials have in both reasoned arguments and the views of their constituents.” Fisher served as executive producer from 1969 to 1974, and then again from 1978 to1979.

In 1970, in connection with a segment of “The Advocates,” Fisher became the last Westerner to interview President Nasser of Egypt, and his questions elicited from Nasser an unexpected willingness to accept a ceasefire with Israel in the “war of attrition” then raging along the Suez Canal. Fisher brought the interview to the attention of Undersecretary of State Elliot Richardson ’47 and thus helped stimulate what became known as the Rogers Plan (named for Nixon’s Secretary of State William Pierce Rogers), which ultimately produced a ceasefire.

From Vanderbilt Special Collections

“The Advocates” was a public television network presentation of KCET, Los Angeles and WGBH, Boston made possible by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation.

The purpose of the series was to stimulate public participation, and understanding, by focusing on realistic choices that must be made in the future, by having both sides of the question presented, and by demonstrating the interest which public officials have in both reasoned arguments and the views of their constituents.

Having a one hour time slot, the program topics varied depending on current news and concerns of the public. The program ran from October 5, 1969 through May 23, 1974; then again bi-weekly from January 26, 1978 through September 9, 1979.

The Advocates was a weekly public-TV presentation from 1969 through 1974, revived as a bi-weekly program for most of 1978-79. Co-produced by Boston’s WGBH and Los Angeles’ KCET, it was promoted as the “PBS Fight of the Week,” and while the fisticuffs were all verbal, it could pack a wallop. Many an intellectual hotshot left the arena with his or her ego bruised…

The format would work just as well today, on issues ranging from the credibility of global-warming science to the smartest way to deal with Iran’s nuclear pursuits. The Advocates could “try” the realities and misconceptions of “Obamacare,” or even the overall success or failure of the current President’s administration…

If the American public can cast votes by phone for their favorite performers on American Idoland Dancing with the Stars, why not use the same phone-vote system to get an indication of how citizens views various issues and controversies before and after they’ve watched courtroom-style testimony and cross-examination?

Who knows? Maybe the revenues from the phone calls could be applied to election costs or federal deficit reduction…

So, in summation (to adopt the courtroom tradition of closing arguments), somebody in the public television system — or, if PBS is too strapped for funds, somebody at TruTV or some cable news network — should consider reviving The Advocates.

French in Action lauded as one of 10 best language-learning programs

10 Paths to a More Fluent Vacation

One of the pleasures of travel is being able to speak the language of the place you’re visiting — or at least say “hello” and “where’s the bathroom?” Whether your trip is in two weeks or two months, there’s no excuse for not broadening your vocabulary. But how?

With so many methods — CDs, videos, apps, podcasts — picking one can feel more overwhelming than learning a language. The systems below have been used by tourists, college students and F.B.I. agents…

French in Action (Learner.org; type “French in Action” in the search box) This 1980s instructional television series produced by Yale University and WGBH Boston with Wellesley College is a kooky romp through Paris and environs in which an American man and a fetching French blonde exchange basic phrases. Performed in French without subtitles, it is supposed to prevent students from translating words in their heads, so that they will learn the language in context.

WGBH wants to be your master control

The noncommercial Boston station is developing a new business as a centralcasting hub. Today, it’s announcing it will provide master control operations for New Hampshire Public Television. WGBH CTO Joe Igoe says his new facility has the capacity to handle 40 or more stations anywhere in the country that would like to save money by outsourcing…

Like a lot of other broadcasters in the digital age, WGBH has become adept at running multiple channels from a single master control.

Right now, it handles seven: WGBH; sister station WGBX; multicast channels The World (national feed), The World (local feed), Create and ‘GBH Kids; and Boston Kids and Family Television, a cable public access channel run by the city. It also plans on adding an eighth signal by taking over master control of WGBY, another WGBH-operated station serving Springfield, Mass.

WGBH would now like to take its multichannel expertise and its state-of-the-art facility in the Brighton section of Boston, and put them to work for other broadcasters around the country that are balking at the trouble and expense of rebuilding and continuing to operate their own master control.

WGBH’s acquisition of Public Radio International: news and analysis

WGBH strikes deal to acquire Public Radio International

WGBH, long a national powerhouse in public television, took a step this week to becoming a national force in public ­radio as well.

The Boston station said Thursday that it has acquired Public Radio International, the Minneapolis company that distributes some of the best-known public radio programs, including “This American Life,” to nearly 900 affiliates across the country and on satellite radio, reaching more than 16 million listeners. PRI also produces its own programs.

Since revamping its flagship radio station in Boston three years ago, WGBH has been in direct competition with cross-town rival WBUR on news and information programming for Boston-area listeners.

The PRI acquisition makes WGBH a player nationally for public radio staples such as thoughtful public affairs programming….

WGBH widens radio reach with PRI acquisition

… For PRI, the partnership presents an opportunity to create more multiplatform content for its affiliate stations. As an example of the projects PRI aspires to produce, Miller cites its recent State Integrity Investigation project. The network joined with about two dozen stations across the country to assess safeguards against corruption within state governments.

PRI will draw on its experiences with that project as it embarks on a new initiative, Immigrant Lives. Announced July 25, Immigrant Lives will draw on a $400,000 grant from the Rita Allen Foundation to produce stories for PRI’s The World about immigrants in the U.S. PRI is working on the project with New America Media, an umbrella group for ethnic-news organizations across the country.

Under the partnership with WGBH, the station will assume some administrative functions for PRI, which will reduce costs for the network. Leaders at both organizations have yet to determine how staffing will be affected but expect no sweeping changes.

Public Radio International Acquired by WGBH—But Why?

… PRI CEO Alisa Miller says that, on PRI’s side, the arrangement flowed out of a strategic planning process that began a few years back where they laid out ambitious goals. They later found that though they were quick to identify opportunities, they could not pace their approach to them well. “If there was anything missing from PRI, it was the ability to scale quickly,” she said. “This is an environment where you need to not only be able to move quickly, but also, when you find success, you need to be able to feed it and nurture it.”

WGBH CEO Jon Abbot says that PRI’s “energy and creativity looking at public media’s future will hopefully rub off on WGBH.” Reportedly, the plan is to keep the two organizations operating fairly independently. It will be interesting to watch where this goes….

One additional point: this question of what is needed to support a fast pace of innovation came up just last week in a newswire regarding a large nonprofit health insurer. We expect that we will see more of it in the near future