Media Note: Vermont PBS Hires New President and CEO | Off Message

Media Note: Vermont PBS Hires New President and CEO


  • Courtesy: Vermont PBS
  • Holly Groscher
Eight months after Vermont PBS ousted longtime president and CEO John King, the station's board of directors on Monday announced the hiring of his successor.

Holly Groschner, who currently serves as general counsel for the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, will lead the station formerly known as Vermont Public Television, starting in February. A Michigan native and Vermont Law School graduate, Groschner lives in Corinth.

"She has very good Vermont roots," says Charlie Smith, who has led the station on an interim basis since King's departure. "She does not come directly from the broadcast industry, but has pretty strong interest and connections that make her very appropriate for the mission of the station."

According to Smith, roughly 70 people applied for the position; 12 were interviewed over Skype; and five took part in daylong interviews at the station. He says Vermont PBS' board was looking for a candidate with strong local connections and an understanding of "our political culture and our philanthropic culture," among other attributes. 

In a statement, Groschner called it "one of the most exciting times for the growth of Vermont PBS."

"I look forward to working with the staff, board and community as we bring Vermont viewers together through great program content," she said.

Groschner will take the helm after a turbulent time at Vermont PBS. King and the station's board feuded for years before he was ousted last spring. Secret board meetings to discuss allegations against King became the basis for a Corporation for Public Broadcasting investigation that resulted in a $15,000 fine levied against the station. Staff members became enmeshed in the dispute after some sided with King and against the board.

"That is 100 percent in the past, and I really think it has been for five or six months," Smith says. "I think the staff is really focused very positively on the future. It was unfortunate that the staff got put in the middle of an issue between board and senior management, but it happened that way."

According to Smith, the station's response to the CPB investigation took a toll on its finances, but it's back on track now.

"There were whopping legal bills essentially related to that, and those are non-recurring, so suffice it to say that this year is going to look substantially better," he says.

Smith won't say whether King or former spokeswoman Elizabeth Metraux, who was also ousted in April, received severance packages.

Disclosure: Paul Heintz is an occasional paid guest on Vermont PBS' "Vermont This Week."