Former CEO, Channel Thirteen / WNET, New York
American Academy Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2008
William (Bill) Baker is the former CEO of the Educational Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), a licensee of Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21 New York. Thirteen/WNET is the flagship public broadcasting station, the premier national public television producer, and the most-watched public television station in the United States. He has been at the head of EBC since 1987. Since his tenure, he has created a number of award-winning programs, including the national nightly Charlie Rose discussion show, and the local series City Arts, which received a Peabody and an Emmy Award. He oversaw the station’s transition to digital transmission in 2001, as well as the launch of two 24-hour educational digital channels in 2002. Baker is also recognized as one of the most prolific American fundraisers, having raised more than $1 billion in his career and building the largest endowment in public television history for WNET/Thirteen.
Baker received his BA, MA, and PhD degrees from Case Western Reserve University and began his broadcasting career with a variety programming and management positions in radio and television in Los Angeles, New York, and Baltimore. He went on to serve as president of Westinghouse Television, Inc., and as chairman of Group W Satellite Communications. During his ten years at Westinghouse, he oversaw the launch of five cable networks, including the Discovery Channel and the Disney Channel. Among his professional activities, Mr. Baker is the chairman of the National Park System advisory board, and serves on the boards of the Public Broadcasting Service, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts East Coast, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, among others. Among the numerous awards he has received for his work and contributions to educational public broadcasting, Baker is also a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Management Hall of Fame, the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.