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KCET Splits Programming Position in Two

Television: The public TV station will replace departing program chief Stephen Kulczycki with a pair of vice presidents.


Call it upsizing.

With the resignation on Tuesday of Stephen Kulczycki, senior vice president for programming and station manager, KCET-TV Channel 28 has opted not for a single replacement but for two new program chiefs.

Blaine Baggett, who had been director of public affairs and feature documentaries, is now vice president of program development, scheduling and acquisition. Valerie Zavala, who was executive producer of the station's weeknight series "Life & Times," has become vice president of news and public affairs.

"I see them as two separate functions," Al Jerome, KCET's president and chief executive officer, noted Wednesday. "Development and acquisition as being one function, whereas the local program effort--the 'Life & Times' and community outreach and local specials . . . [is] a separate function. Val and Blaine are uniquely qualified to steer [that] and they have an excellent working relationship."

Baggett, 45, who came to KCET in 1985, is responsible for all programming except in Zavala's area of local news and public affairs. "Documentaries, children's programs, [President] Al Jerome's concerted effort to make a foray into Hollywood more. . . . I'm just going to have a broader canvas to paint on," he explained.

Baggett, who produced such PBS series as "Secret Intelligence," "The Astronomers" and the upcoming "The Great War," an eight-hour documentary about World War I, said the new job essentially will require him to relinquish hands-on producing chores.

"If we can pursue another great series like 'The Great War,' " he said, "I would have to hand it off to another executive producer. [But] I would still oversee it. I was the person who came up with the ['Great War'] idea, developed it and found the money for it. So I will [still] be developing 'Great Wars' [and] handing it off to someone else to then execute."

Although Baggett had been responsible for overseeing "Life & Times," he gives that baton to Zavala: "As much as I hate letting go of it, I have plenty of fish to fry."

Zavala, 41, who joined KCET in 1987 as a reporter and anchor, said "our big, big goal is to take ['Life & Times'] to an hour. That will be my challenge. We would really like it to happen a year from now. It all depends on funding."

Outgoing program chief Kulczycki, brought to KCET 13 years ago when he was 32 by then-KCET President William H. Kobin, was praised by Jerome as being the "architect of many of KCET's proudest programming achievements." Kulczycki said in an interview that he felt the time was right to "step back and decide" his future.

"Everything's wide open. . . . I know what I'm supposed to do. My life is about television programs and public service."

For PBS? "I don't know. It's a great opportunity to completely rethink."

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