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Message from the General Manager

Rus Peotter, WGBY General Manager It seems almost compulsory to begin the year writing about Downton Abbey. So I will. Season 5 is upon us and the folks at Highclere Castle pick up where they left off and unless you peeked on some hijacked British website, you’ll simply have to watch this season to see where they take us next.

And while I love the characters, the settings, the historical context and the plot twists and turns as much as you do, what I appreciate even more about Downton Abbey is the audience it has gathered, last season over 13 million viewers. Of course, any broadcaster wants a big audience, but Downton Abbey fans are more than that.

Usually, we have to derive that fact from our audience research from PBS or Nielsen, but for this special series we get to see it first-hand. You may recall that we had several preview events last month in Greenfield and Lenox. At first glance, the RSVP list held many familiar names, but when folks arrived for the events, they introduced, sisters, daughters, nieces and nephews and even grandchildren. Of course, our annual Masterpiece Ball, celebrating Downton, gives even more opportunities to meet the wide-range of fans. As the overall media environment has become ever more niche-based and targeted, this is evidence that an engaging story well-told and acted holds value for multiple generations.

Of course, much of the work we do at WGBY and PBS has that value, if not quite the star power. NOVA is not only the definitive science media franchise, it is also the most used video resource in high schools across the country. Conversely, As Schools Match Wits and our American Graduate work on Connecting Point takes parents and grandparents into the very schools our kids see every day; highlighting the challenges and the accomplishments there. And of course, all ages and styles shine on Together In Song.

So, this January, if the Crawleys and the Granthams can bring a few more folks to the rich content that we have on WGBY all year long, I’m happy to write about them again! But remember, it was your support that made not only Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey, but ALL of our content possible.

Thank you and have a great 2015!

Russell Peotter, signature

Russell J. Peotter
General Manager