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Bob Culkeen / Photo contributed by WTCI

A 45-year veteran of public television has been chosen to lead Chattanooga's PBS station, WTCI-TV.

Bob Culkeen, currently the general manager and executive director for WSRE-TV in Pensacola, Fla., will become general manager for WTCI Channel 45 on Jan. 20.

Culkeen, who has worked at or helped manage five other PBS stations, fills the vacancy at WTCI created last year when Paul Grove left the station after 13 years to return to Tampa, Florida, to lead that city's PBS station, WEDU.

"Bob brings to WTCI a long and successful career in public television," said Don Jernigan, a station board member who helped lead the search for a new WTCI CEO after Grove's departure. "He has been a strong leader in advocating the use of public television in education. His innovative and creative methods on how to better engage our community through public television will be especially important in a rapidly changing landscape in media content delivery."

Culkeen said he looks forward to living in Chattanooga and heading WTCI as it celebrates its 50th year of broadcasting. Culkeen has degrees from Fitchburg State University and Westfield State University in Massachusetts and has worked in technical, programming, fundraising and management jobs at other PBS stations in Illinois and Florida.

"I was one of those lucky guys who walked into a television studio in 1974 and fell in love with the media and have been working in it ever since," he said. "Joining WTCI in the dawn of their 50th Anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate great achievements with a vision for continued dedicated service to Chattanooga and the region. I recognize this opportunity for WTCI to be the local difference maker, and have fun achieving it."

In addition to work in public television, Culkeen has served as assistant director of video service and distance learning at his alma mater, Westfield State University, and has worked as an adjunct professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Fla, and as a visiting instructor at American International College in Springfield, Mass.

Culkeen is currently vice chair of the Florida Public Broadcasting Service and was formerly an executive board member of the Illinois Public Broadcast Council and the Digital Convergence Alliance. The 62-year-old broadcaster has spent his entire career in public television, which he said serves a vital community and educational mission in the communities it serves.

Culkeen said he and his wife spent their 35th wedding anniversary in Chattanooga last fall and fell in love with the city.

WTCI is a community-controlled PBS station with an annual budget of more than $3 million and Culkeen said he is eager to boost fundraising to help expand and upgrade the station. WTCI reaches a 35-county region and serves over 450,000 households with programming, events and educational outreach.

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