Nebraska Public Media general manager announces retirement

· 3 min read

Nebraska Public Media general manager announces retirement

Mark Leonard

Mark Leonard, general manager and CEO of Nebraska Public Media, has announced plans to retire June 30. Leonard has led the award-winning statewide public media network for more than 10 years and is only the third general manager in its 70-year history.

“Nebraska Public Media is a leader in our industry, particularly in innovation and content creation,” Leonard said. “Having worked at numerous public media entities, I can confidently say this has been my most rewarding experience and an appropriate pinnacle for my public media career.”

While Leonard was general manager, the network won many awards for its television and radio productions, including more than 300 regional honors, 51 national awards and 18 Heartland Emmy Awards for excellence in television broadcasting.

Leonard’s commitment to local news led to the creation of the network’s “Speaking of Nebraska” television series and participation by Nebraska Public Media News in several journalism collaborations, including the “Midwest Journalism Hub,” “Report for America” and “America Amplified.” These partnerships include access to shared resources, training and an expansion of the network’s journalism footprint.

Recognizing opportunities in emerging media, Leonard established Nebraska Public Media Labs, the organization’s research and development department. It is a space for experimentation, exploration and incubation in content creation and storytelling. Labs collaborates with University of Nebraska–Lincoln students studying at the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

During Leonard’s tenure, Nebraska Public Media has trained a new generation of production, engineering and news professionals, giving the network capacity and skills to build a robust, sustainable content engine for both broadcast and the increasing demands of digital distribution.

“We are grateful for and proud of the incredible work that Mark has done during his tenure at Nebraska Public Media. His contributions have strengthened the network, and his work will support the future success of the organization. We wish Mark well while acknowledging that we will miss his valuable leadership and insights,” Nicholas Baxter, chair of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission, said.

Leonard recently spearheaded the creation of a five-year strategic plan for the network. The plan included the hiring of a chief operating officer to provide management, leadership and vision, ensuring that Nebraska Public Media’s internal strategies and goals are implemented successfully.

“Our new strategic plan offers a roadmap for the next generation of leaders at Nebraska Public Media. Wise investments and detailed planning for the future have set the network on an excellent path forward. I am confident Nebraska Public Media is positioned to continue its 70-year tradition of excellence in serving viewers and listeners across the state,” said Leonard.

Leonard also led the network through the pandemic and was instrumental in the implementation of a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to improve public safety in tornado-prone areas. The effort improved and expanded local emergency-messaging capabilities on mobile devices and other digital platforms.

To strengthen connections with Nebraskans in communities across the state, Leonard guided the creation of “On the Road,” which features listening sessions with local leaders and presentations of Nebraska Public Media programs, as well as educational events.

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