published Thursday, September 13th, 2012

WTCI president Paul Grove brings change to local PBS affiliate

Paul Grove, general manager of WTCI-TV and the new statewide head of the PBS station network in Tennessee, sits in the control room at WTCI-TV.
Paul Grove, general manager of WTCI-TV and the new statewide head of the PBS station network in Tennessee, sits in the control room at WTCI-TV.
Photo by Allison Love.

PAUL GROVE

Title: President and CEO of WTCI-TV

New task: Chairman of the Tennessee Public Television Council

Age: 48

Education: A native of Van Nuys, Calif., Grove traveled around the world with his father, a U.S. Naval submariner, before settling in Florida and graduating from the University of Florida.

Career: A 28-year broadcasting veteran, Grove worked at NBC and ABC affiliates before joining WEDU-TV, the PBS affiliate in Tampa, where he rose to become vice president of national programming and production at WEDU. He joined WTCI in 2006.

Personal: He and his wife, Donyale, have four boys and reside in Chattanooga.

From Big Bird to "Masterpiece Theater," PBS is the educational alternative for TV viewers like Paul Grove.

The 48-year-old head of Chattanooga's PBS affiliate, WTCI-TV, relies upon public TV not only for his own livelihood but also to help in the home schooling of his own four sons.

"Public television has always had a rich history of educational programs and we've certainly watched PBS in our own family," Grove said. "Here at WTCI, education has been over everything, and we're eager to bring PBS back to the classroom."

Grove, who has worked in public television for 18 years after spending the first decade of his career in commercial television, says he has always viewed PBS as the outlet for educational television.

As a result, WTCI-TV and the five other public television stations in Tennessee are teaming up to develop a new platform of educational TV. The stations have begun producing digital learning units on the Web on everything from algebra to zoology.

Under Grove's leadership as the new chairman of the Tennessee Public Television Council, WTCI is the managing station for the new multistation initiative.

The PBS stations will be paid $4.6 million over the next three years to produce 250 of the digital learning objects for the Internet as part Tennessee's federally funded "Race to the Top" educational initiative.

"We wanted to take the lead as we move forward in new technologies by producing these new customized learning units," Grove said.

The web-based initiative is the latest addition for WTCI under Grove's leadership in the past six years. Since Grove joined the local station as president six years ago, WTCI has relocated its studios from Chattanooga State to a site off of Bonny Oaks Drive and converted its signal from analog to digital. Grove also has expanded both its local programming and fundraising efforts.

In recent years, the station has brought PBS on-air personalities like Jim Lehrer and Gwen Ifill and programs like the "Antiques Roadshow" to Chattanooga.

"Like many nonprofits, we had to slow down some of our efforts during the recession, but we've had a busy six years," Grove said.

Chattanooga attorney Bill Robinson, who is chairman of the community board for WTCI, said the latest technology initiative is typical of Grove's "high energy and creative thinking" for the PBS affiliate.

"I feel like Paul has really turned his station around and heightened our profile as the community's story teller," Robinson said. "He's kept us moving."

Grove, who grew up in the son of a Navy submariner, learned about moving around early in life. He attended 13 schools before graduating high school and pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Florida. He worked as a producer at NBC and ABC affiliates in Florida before settling into a public television career.

Grove bristles at complaints of media bias and concerns about public funding for PBS stations. Grove said PBS programs, especially locally produced shows on WTCI, work to avoid any partisan bias.

In Tennessee, Grove said state support for the six PBS stations is the lowest per capita -- 52 cents per person, or less than $3.3 million a year -- of any of Tennessee's eight neighboring states.

"We want to work on that too," he said.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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