MERRILLVILLE │ Lakeshore Public Television celebrated its 25th anniversary with the introduction of new CEO James Muhammad on Thursday at the Radisson Hotel.
The PBS station also announced its new brand, Lakeshore Public Media, at the event, which also included a performance by the vocal group Under the Streetlamp.
Muhammad, who grew up in Alabama and was recently director of Radio Services for West Virginia Public Broadcasting's WVPB-FM and WVPB-TV, said he’s excited about the chance to work with a public media organization and its unique operation as a joint licensee in the Chicago media market.
“I found the organization committed to the core values of public broadcasting and that’s something I’m personally committed to,” he said.
Muhammad said public television is an entity that was set up to have separate space among media to represent high standards of America, the high standards of dialogue and journalism here and preservation of the cultural presentation of the arts.
“All of the things that would be our total commitment that in the commercial world you just can’t make as your business model,” he said. “In public media, it’s all about serving the public with integrity, trust and as Lyndon Johnson said, feeding the nation’s appetite for excellence.”
Muhammad said he grew up a product of public broadcasting and it has broadened his horizons.
“That’s the purpose of public broadcasting — to challenge the mind and present intelligent conversation and in depth content,” he said. “That in my opinion is what we do best in public broadcasting, and that’s what I intend to bring here and build on the success of this operation.”
Bonita Neff, chairwoman of the Lakeshore Public Media board, said the 25th anniversary means evolution in terms of development of production and programming.
Dan Bindert, vice president of radio operations at Lakeshore, lauded the expansion of its television newscast and web presence — while at the same time keeping its commitment to local coverage.
“I feel like we’re really delving into the community in a way that we are able to keep expanding,” he said. “And with James Muhammad stepping in as CEO, we feel we’re at this launch pad to move it further forward.”
Matt Franklin, Lakeshore vice president of television operations, addressed the challenge of being near the Chicago market. “We were built and established for the residents of Northwest Indiana and they (Chicago) get media from so many different places,” he said. “We just think there’s so many things we can show about our region that even our friends across the state line can learn a little about — what we do and who we are.”