David Liroff

  • Years at WGBH: 1979-2007
  • Position(s): Broadcast Manager, Television Station Manager, Vice President, and Chief Technology Officer

From Jon Abbott and Henry Becton— 2/22/2007

David LiroffIt is with both excitement, and a sense of loss, that we share with you the news that David Liroff has accepted the position of Senior Vice President, System Development and Media Strategy with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and will be leaving WGBH.

Among his many accomplishments, David has led WGBH’s transition to digital broadcasting and production; facilitated the technical transition to our new headquarters; created the Media Archives and Preservation Center; created and managed the Audience Research department; established our first professionally-staffed audience and member services department; and shepherded the original ‘pledge-free’ campaign.

David has been an exceptional ambassador for WGBH with our many national partners in public television and radio, serving on numerous boards and committees, advising on topics ranging from new technology to legislative policy to funding models. He is nationally acknowledged for his thoughtfulness and expertise and for his work across the public broadcasting system, facilitating successful collaborations on behalf of public broadcasting and WGBH.

Our consolation in David’s departure is that we will continue to have the benefit of his wisdom on a range of strategic issues through his work with CPB.

From CPB – 2/22/2007

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced the appointment of David Liroff as Senior Vice President, System Development and Media Strategy. Liroff comes to CPB from WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts where he has held the position of Vice President and Chief Technology Officer since 1995. At CPB, he will oversee CPB initiatives including: system strategy and policy development, audience-based research, implementation of station grant policy and strategy, and investments in new technologies.

“David brings an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and senior management experience in public broadcasting and new media,” said CPB president and CEO Patricia Harrison. “We are thrilled to have such a remarkable individual help guide CPB on behalf of the stakeholders of public broadcasting.”

“David has made enormous contributions to WGBH and to the public broadcasting system,” said WGBH president Henry Becton, Jr. “We have benefited greatly from his expertise and sound guidance on a range of issues from technology to strategy and policy. We’ll miss David at WGBH, but we are delighted that the entire system will now have the benefit of his wisdom.”

Over the course of his tenure at WGBH, David Liroff has been responsible for production services, engineering, information technology, telecommunications, digital asset management, audience research, broadcasting, creative services, membership, major gifts and capital campaign fundraising, local program and national “how-to” program production, and for overseeing WGBH’s transition to digital production and broadcasting.

Liroff currently serves on the Board of Directors of American Public Television and Public Interactive (Public Radio International). From 1999 to 2005, he served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Public Television Stations. Liroff is also a member of several public broadcasting committees and advisory panels and is a recognized expert about the impact of new technologies on public broadcasting and society.

Liroff joined WGBH in 1979 as broadcast manager. He became television station manager in 1982, rising to his current position in 1995. Liroff came to WGBH from St. Louis public television station KETC, where he served as director of broadcasting. Prior to that, he was program director for WOUB-TV20 in Athens, Ohio and assistant professor in the College of Communication, School of Radio/Television at Ohio University.

Liroff earned a Ph.D. in radio, TV and film from Northwestern University, a Masters in speech and theater from Brooklyn College/City University of New York, and a Bachelors degree in political science from MIT.


  1. Gary Mott on March 31, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    David, Thanks for making all the “junior” staff feel valued! All the best.

  2. Darrell Byers on March 30, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    My memory is more of a lesson in professional development. David received the award from PBS as development person of the year and, in his speech, he said when someone comes to him with a new idea, the first things he does is try to think of three reasons why this idea may be good. I have tried to implement this process into my everyday professional life and it has served me well. Many of my accomplishments I owe to that samll line. Thanks David. You have been and will remain one of my favorite people. Good luck.

  3. Lenore Lanier Gibson on March 27, 2007 at 8:52 pm


    You were the only person around campus late one evening with a key to open the “forbidden mailroom” after hours. From your office on the “Strip,” you dropped what you were doing and escorted me to the mailroom to retrieve the ‘GBH magazine proofs inadvertently locked within. I was able to send them on their way overnight to our printer in Vermont. We were on time for this issue, because of you. And I still have my job, because of you.

    I will miss your friendly hallway nods and your smiles.

    Much success at PBS.

  4. Carrie English on March 27, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    In December of 2004 I was very eager to get a job at WGBH. My older brother was friends with Jonathan Liroff and through this connection David graciously offered to give me an informational interview. Not only did he talk to me, he gave me a tour of the entire foundation and introduced me to countless people. He must have been incredibly busy, but he spend at least an hour with me. He personally called HR to find out which temp agency WGBH used, and a few days later I was temping here! More than two years and two jobs later, I’m still here — thanks to David!

  5. Paula Vergara on March 26, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    If there is anyone who embodies the ‘GBH mission, it is you. Thanks for your dedication to technology, your insight and, especially, your sense of humor. You are one in a million.

    I hope that the next quarter century brings your life and career much happiness and fulfillment.

  6. Bunny Olenick on March 26, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    David, you were always my “go-to” guy to help me work through organizational roadblocks. And my fondest memory is the evening you and your family joined mine in a holiday dinner.

  7. Cindy Seneca on March 22, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    David, you were surprised that I came down from NH for your send-off party. It’s been 20 years since I worked near your office on the management “strip” (from 1980-86).

    But what you didn’t know is that, through the years, I’ve thought of you and your kindness toward me each time I’ve looked at my treasured autographed Tom Rush posters that you requisitioned for me. Receiving those made a big impact on me, as I’d been a fan of his since about 12 or 13.

    Thanks again for your thoughtfulness. All the best to you at CPB and always!

  8. Lo Hartnett on March 21, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    David, The years we worked together were the very best. We learned from each other, challenged each other, had fun in the process and earned a good share of PBS Development awards to boot.

    I will NOT forget your insatiable appetite for asking questions, or your sensitivity to staff who needed “to talk”.

    When you talk about new technologies, your eyes light up while those of your audience tend to glaze over. You are leaps and bounds beyond our understanding, but there is no one better to take Public Broadcasting into the new technology future.

    Best wishes for continued success, and lots of love, Lo

    PS Lunch at the B school again?

  9. Bill Pimentel on March 21, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    David, From my first day at ‘GBH, on Nov. 2, 1988, you welcomed me with gracious hospitality. You gave me QuickDex, and so much more! To a wonderful role model, a great boss, and an amazing man! Thank you, and see ya ’round!

  10. Callie Crossley on March 21, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    David, Every now and then a good egg moves ahead. I hope that your new gig is the wonderful creative opportunity that you deserve. Thanks for your support all the years I was full time around here, and the following years when I was in and out. It won’t be the same around here without you. With much affection, C2

  11. Daniele Skopek on March 21, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    David, What can i say other than I’ll really miss you … especially running into you in the halls and you always having something wonderful to say.

    Best of luck….and i hope to continue to run into you in the new halls

  12. Lisa Lavina on March 21, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    David, Getting to know WGBH through your eyes and leadership was the best way to begin working here! Your interest in everything from the callers on the phone to the people manning them was but an example of your involvement in every aspect of life here. Best wishes and always be curious. xo, Lisa

  13. Ann Lammers on March 21, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    I started at WGBH in Major Gifts in 1992. They asked me to come in before my actual start date for an Overseers meeting. You were one of the presenters and showed some clips — is it cable or PBS! I was your fan from the start!

    I use the line “technology has finally caught up with our mission” on every tour of our corporate pledge groups.

    The CEC LOVED you and you were the favorite presenter. Hopefully you can present again with a CPB perspective.

  14. Susan Reed and Denise Blumenthal on March 21, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    David – Your speech was inspiring, but every time we ran into you in the hallways, you had something great to say. You always were available for advice and set the moral compass for WGBH. We will miss you!

  15. Mary Alice Holmes on March 21, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for the pure joy of our few encounters. Whenever I hear anyone singing “02134” I will think of you. I wish I had the opportunity to have been mentored by you. Many blessings upon you.

  16. Daphne Noyes on March 21, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks so much to you and Jean for the incredible support you provided to me and amanda when I first started here. Literally I couldn’t have done it without you! David I so appreciated your comments tonight. I am proud to have been your colleague these many years. love, daphne

  17. Elizabeth Deane on March 21, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    David – Your farewell speech joins the ranks of those big moments you listed. I was so moved by it – and I’m so sorry to see you go! All the best, David.

  18. Tahji Mumford on March 21, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    David, It has been an honor and privilege to work with you on the relocation project and to be a witness to your wisdom, perserverance and humor as you have faced various “insurmountable opportunities” (my favorite Liroffism). Take care, enjoy and Godspeed to you

  19. Judy Stoia on March 21, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Hi David! I’m at the WGBH goodbye event and can’t seem to get through the crush to see you. The cardinal and I want to thank you for all the opportunities you’ve sent our way — mainly me, but you know what a showboat he is (witness his horning in our our photo opp). I’m thrilled at your new position and will visit in DC. Stay in touch!

  20. Melanie Wallace on March 21, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    David, We will all miss you – you have been one of those stalwarts who represent all the best of what public television can be. Best of luck in your new position. I hope our paths cross again. Warmly, Melanie

  21. Kimberly Perez-Gern on March 21, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    All the Best to you!

  22. Maria Daniels on March 21, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    At an event in Austin, Texas, David sat next to the director of the LBJ Library.

    In the course of conversation, he mentioned our work on American Experience at WGBH, and they spoke in general terms about how aligned our two missions were.

    When David returned, he sent me an email explaining the director’s receptiveness to public broadcasting. A year later, she and I were drafting a proposal to the NEH to fund collaborative work.

    Thanks, David — you are the ultimate matchmaker! (We’ll know if we get the funding in fall 2007)

  23. George Hauenstein on March 21, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Best of luck, David. You’re one of the people that helped build this place and I’ll always admire you for your work and your accessibility. Your phrase, “management by walking around” is one that I’ll always remember. Thanks for all you’ve done.

  24. Peter Villa on March 21, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks for helping all of us embrace the future! Here’s to more storage space with less moving parts.

  25. Leah Weisse on March 21, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    David was the voice of reason at 40,000 feet when the rest of us were looking at the micoscopic. Thanks for being that sensible voice when we needed it! Looking forward to hearing it on a national level! Good Luck!

  26. Jordon Berson on March 21, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I remember being blown away by David’s input at staff meetings… it is hard not to be impressed by his knowledge and enthusiasm. Best of luck to you David!

  27. Charlie Mcenerney on March 21, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Most of my memories are recent (and since i’ve snuck my way into the advanced media group meetings!), but I can say that in those meetings you are always the right guy to make us think of situations and opportunities in a new light and from different perspectives. That’s greatly needed in this day and age and CPB is lucky to help them do the same in the future!

  28. Nike Okediji on March 21, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    I’ll miss you spreading cheer as you pass through the Legal Department. Good luck and it will be nice to have another friend at CPB.

  29. Susan Siegel on March 21, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    You will be missed by so many, but mostly by me!

  30. Chas Norton on March 21, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    David is a mensch … many are not. [Ed: more about mensches.]

  31. Michael Ambrosino on March 20, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    David, Public Television would not be what it is without your intelligence and your hard work. WGBH is not just one of the stations, things that happened here in programming, organization and technology shaped the institution that is today “the most trusted public intitution in the United “States.” Best wishes in the future.

  32. Bob Nesson on March 20, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Luckily for our community, David has the expansive thinking and social awareness to encourage development of programs that actually mean something. When I came to him in the 1980s with a wild idea about following the Big Dig over time and weighing the economic and health consequences, he encouraged it. Now that we know more about environmental issues, he’s shown an openness to further explorations of this type. We’ll miss you David!

  33. Jay Collier on March 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    David, for a number of years early in my career, you were a patient mentor who provided support as I explored a number of roles at ‘GBH. I appreciate the time you took to encourage me to think creatively, even when I was challenged by new situations. You made it clear that the only limitations were of my own making. I take that with me … All my best.

  34. Brooks Leffler on March 19, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    I didn’t know David at WGBH, but when I was at PBS and he was in Athens, Ohio. He was a pretty bright, impressive guy then — so I’m not at all surprised that he went on to Boston, or that he achieved so much there.

    Having also logged some time at CPB, I can only say: David, don’t forget the boonies — they’re the heart of the system. But drink copiously of the nectar inside the Beltway while you can — it’s pretty heady, albeit sometime headachy, stuff.

  35. Don Hallock on March 19, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    I never got to know you (more’s the pity), but by the things I hear from others associated with WGBH you have been much loved and respected. I’m happy to be in the same “WGBH family,” and wish you the greatest success in your new position. Glad you’re still with us in the Public TV world.

  36. Sam Newbury on March 19, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Best of luck at CPB. They are very lucky to have lured you to DC. You’ve been so helpful and supportive to us at Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I remember some rocky presentations at the Program Fairs where you helped get through the inevitable requests to try to clearly explain the Mister Rogers residual situation just one more time…

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