Lloyd Kaiser, WITF's founding general manager, dies at 88

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | Jan 20, 2016 2:25 PM
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(Oakmont) -- WITF's founding general manager has died.

Lloyd Kaiser passed away at the age of 88 early Monday morning after a heart attack.

He was at the helm during the launch of WITF-TV in Hershey on November 22, 1964, after spending two years fundraising and promoting the creation of the 100th public television station in the country.

"Lloyd Kaiser was one of public television's early visionaries,"with an expansive view of the quality that could be achieved by a fledgling organization with a passion to serve," WITF's President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko told Current.

One of the highlights of WITF's creative efforts under Kaiser's leadership was a remarkable month-long series in 1968 exploring race relations in central Pennsylvania at a volitale time across the country.

"A Time to Act," took an in-depth look at the region's racial crisis, covering issues like jobs, education and living conditions.

The effort included hosting community discussions at different locations throughout the community after each episode.

"As founding general manager of WITF, Lloyd Kaiser gave me my first (and, as it turned out to be, my only) job, from which I retired 43 years later," said Mike Greenwald, an advisor to WITF.

"The opportunity he provided all of us on the charter staff to participate in building a new educational television station was personally and professionally life changing. His passion, dedication and creativity inspired everyone. His brilliance and vision established WITF as not only a local community treasure but also a national leader in the production of pioneering programs. That is an extraordinary legacy."

The 2015 documentary, "WITF Takes Flight: The First 50 Years," contained several clips from the series (12:06-15:54).

Kaiser went on to help found the Pennsylvania Public Television Network and led Pittsburgh's public television station, WQED, to prominence as its president from 1971-1993.

He is survived by his daughter Kristina and his son Tim.

A memorial is scheduled for Saturday at Oakmont Presbyterian Church outside Pittsburgh.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Oakmont Presbyterian Church, 415 Pennsylvania Ave., Oakmont, PA 15139.

*This story has been altered to include more of Kaiser's accomplishments during his tenure at WITF and quotes from Kathleen Pavelko and Mike Greenwald*

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