David Liroff

From Technology 360

David B. Liroff, Senior Vice President, System Development and Media Strategy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and former Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, WGBH Educational Foundation, is a frequent speaker at meetings within the public broadcasting community and allied organizations. His provocative and engaging presentations are an important foundation for understanding public broadcasting’s transition to multi-platform digital distribution. He has kindly given permission to post the following recent presentations.

The Analog Shutdown: An Alternative Scenario, Public Television Programmers Association, PBS Showcase, May 18, 2007.

Technological Drivers of Change in the Media Environment, Keynote for 2006 PBS Brand Masters Seminar, May 20, 2006. The presentation is in two documents: PowerPoint with Word speaking notes.

In the “Global Village”, Where is “The Public Square”?, Link: Center for Social Media. You can also view a video or download an MP3 audio file of this presentation at the WGBH Forum Network. January 13, 2006.

Analog To Anytime: The Traditional Broadcast Era Is Ending, Digital Future Initiative Summit, December 15, 2005

The Rocky Road to Digital, v. 9.0 [ppt], PBS Interactive Masters Seminar, April 13, 2005.

Earlier versions:

The Rocky Road to Digital Broadcasting [html], v. 7.4, Iowa DTV Symposium, October 28, 2003

The Rocky Road to Digital Broadcasting [pdf], v. 7.3, PBS Development Conference, October 3, 2003

Plenary talk [doc], Coalition for Networked Information Task Force Meeting, December 7, 2004.

Tech Talk Live: Things Every Programmer Should Know [pdf], Public Television Programmers Association, November 10, 2004.

Public Radio Leadership Forum Keynote [pdf], May 10, 2004

Opening KeynoteSURA/ViDe [pdf], Education, Public Broadcasting and the Internet: Keys to Collaboration Workshop, March 24, 2004

The Power and Problems of Public Media [pdf], IMLS Web-Wise 2004 conference, March 4, 2004. This was also published as an article by First Monday, the online peer-reviewed journal on the Internet, May 2004.

IMLS Address [pdf], Institute of Museum and Library Services, December 2, 2003


David Liroff joined Bostons WGBH in 1979, and during his tenure with the station has had senior management responsibility for broadcasting, local program production, creative services, membership, major gifts and capital campaign fundraising for WGBH-TV2 and WGBX-TV44/Boston, and for national “how-to” program production. In his present position, to which he was appointed in October, 1995, he is responsible for production services, engineering, information technology, telecommunications, digital asset management, the WGBH Media Archives and Preservation Center, and audience research, and he has senior management responsibility for overseeing WGBH’s transition to digital production and broadcasting. WGBH is the premier producer of programming distributed by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and also operates a strong public radio service.

Dr. Liroff is on the board and is past professional vice-chair of the the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), a former member of the CPB TV Future Fund Advisory Panel, and member of the CPB Digital Consultation Panel, the PBS Technology and Distribution Committee, the APTS/PBS MSO and DBS advisory committees, and the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Additionally, he was a member of the core working group of the CPB Digital Distribution Implementation Initiative during its two-year existence from 2001-2003 and has been a member of numerous other industry panels.

Updated 24 May, 2007


  1. Larry Goldberg on May 17, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    All my memories of David are warm, friendly, full of energy and compassion. He was a great supporter of GBH’s pioneering work in media accessibility, of course, because he cared about … everyone. And such an inquisitive mind – I always remember when he was interested in the topic you were bringing up, when he would wiggle his fingers toward himself and say, “Tell me more” wanting to go deeper, and pushing you to think harder about what you were trying to say. David’s impact will live on in how we all approach our work and our people.

  2. Robin Landerman Zucker on May 17, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    David was a real champion of newbies (as I was in 1981). He was a caring, honest and positive mentor and executive. My sincere condolences to his family.

  3. Judith Vecchione on May 17, 2022 at 9:25 am

    This is such sad news – Dave was an inspiration, a leader, and a visionary. I remember him saying to an early Producers Workshop class, “Have you ever heard of GOOGLE?” It was so early that only a few of the group, all of them smart young media makers, raised their hands. “It will change our lives,” he added. Too true, in this and so much more. Rest in peace, David.

  4. Bill Pimentel on May 17, 2022 at 6:29 am

    A giant of a man, who never felt it beneath him to kneel down to listen to the concerns of his foot soldiers. RIP, “DBL”

  5. Sam Farrell on May 16, 2022 at 9:17 pm

    David was an intellectual spark, an empathetic leader, and a man of drive and enthusiasm — he was well known for writing emails at 4 in the morning. He always wore the same blue shirt and red tie, a uniform that belied an imaginative and visionary mind. I enjoyed ever opportunity to meet and talk with him.

  6. Greg Fitzgerald on May 16, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    So sad to learn of David’s death. I remember always looking forward to his technology updates at PBS and APT meetings. He was a true visionary and such a great voice for public broadcasting excellence.

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

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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?

  15. 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!

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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!

  26. 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

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

    All the Best to you!

  28. 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)

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

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

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

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

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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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