Rhode Island PBS, The Public’s Radio to merge

RHODE ISLAND PBS and The Public's Radio announced Thursday their plan to merge into a single entity.

PROVIDENCE – Pending formal approval, two prominent local public broadcasting organizations will merge into a single entity.

Rhode Island PBS and The Public’s Radio announced Thursday their plan to merge and form a single organization that will combine both television and radio broadcasts, as well as further its digital reporting within Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. The merger is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2024.

“Together, we want every listener, viewer, and follower – every supporter and every skeptic – to have access to the best information necessary to be engaged in their communities,” The Public’s Radio CEO, President and General Manager Torey Malatia said in a statement. “That will be our north star as we take these exciting next steps forward to create an innovative and inclusive joint public media venture.”

According to a release from Rhode Island PBS, conversations about a possible merger began a decade ago when the television entity’s president, David Piccerelli, spoke with then-Rhode Island Public Radio President Joe O’Connor on the idea. However, serious talks about the two entities merging began “in earnest” around August 2022, Piccerelli said.

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“This was not a financial decision for either one of us [to merge],” Piccerelli said in a statement. “I mean we’re two both very strong organizations financially. This is purely about being stronger together and better serving the Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts community.”

The merger needs approval from both the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the R.I. attorney general’s office, the entities said. Along with combining a workforce of 100 employees, including award-winning journalists, the combined broadcasting entity will operate out of Rhode Island PBS’s current location at 50 Park Lane. The Public’s Radio’s current offices are at 1 Union Station.

Both entities’ boards and top executives – Malatia and Piccerelli – will continue to serve their respective organizations until the merger is complete. Once merged, a single board will be formed and a national search for a new top executive for the combined organization will be conducted, Rhode Island PBS and The Public’s Radio said. A new name for the new entity has yet to be chosen.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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