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Public media veteran takes the helm as WSIU executive director

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fred martino

New WSIU executive director Fred Martino. 

CARBONDALE — Fred Martino, who has more than two decades experience in public media – including the last 13 years directing content for KRWG Public Media at New Mexico State University – starts Dec. 6 as executive director for WSIU Public Broadcasting Service, the broadcasting arm of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“The search committee and others who interviewed Dr. Martino were impressed with his energy and enthusiasm,” Chancellor Austin Lane said. “His background in both radio and TV, work in a university setting and experience in a large geographic market prepare him well to lead WSIU.”

Martino said he was attracted by the assembled team at WSIU and the university.

“There is a real commitment to public service and community engagement. That’s crucial for public media,” he said. “As a system, we must expand our efforts to boost early childhood education, news and public affairs, and arts and cultural programming. WSIU is well-positioned to do this with a wide reach across much of the state. Moreover, our connections to the College of Arts and Media and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute provide great partnerships to expand services.”

WSIU will continue to focus on award-winning television and radio programming, and Martino noted that with the addition of stations in other parts of Illinois, WSIU will look for partnerships to expand regional programming. In New Mexico, he successfully applied for the “Report for America” program, which is providing support to journalism organizations nationwide to fill gaps in coverage.

“There is a real need for more credible, in-depth local news coverage throughout the country,” Martino said. “An informed electorate is essential to a functioning democracy.”

Martino was at KRWG since 2008. He was also anchor/executive producer of that region’s television news magazine, “Newsmakers,” which airs on KRWG-TV. At KRWG, he supervised all production and news employees for both the public television and public radio operations.

Before coming to KRWG, Martino was the director of news and public affairs for nine years at WGVU Public Media at Grand Valley State University. He also has prior experience as an anchor, reporter and producer at television stations in South Bend/Elkhart, Indiana; Elmira, New York, and Wallingford, Pennsylvania.

Martino pointed out his experiences in New Mexico and Michigan expanding and creating dialogue about issues shaping the nation.

“Public media must offer election and issues forums to allow people to better understand the important choices they make at the polls,” he said. “With an increasing number of digital tools available, we can make this programming available on-demand and provide additional information that may not be available in a radio or television program. I know the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will be a great partner, and I am pleased that WSIU already works with the institute on a podcast.”

Martino also sees an opportunity for the station’s role to grow within the larger university community to include high school internships and expanded opportunities for SIU students. At New Mexico State, for example, Martino said was able to expand programming efforts with other departments to include students in government, public health and film in producing programming.

Martino replaces Jak Tichenor, who served as the station’s interim executive director since 2019. Martino said he is grateful to Tichenor for his help in the transition.

“WSIU has been very fortunate to have someone with decades of experience in the organization serve as interim executive director,” he said. “I've been impressed with the entire staff at WSIU and can't wait to start working with them.”

“Fred Martino’s expertise in content creation and his leadership experience bring a unique perspective to WSIU’s executive team,” Tichenor said. “His long-standing background in public media lends decades of experience to the position, and I have every confidence the station will thrive under his leadership.”

Martino earned his doctorate in educational administration with a focus on public media from New Mexico State University. He also has master’s degrees in communication and public administration from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication management from Ithaca College.

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