Rhode Island public media groups Rhode Island PBS and The Public’s Radio (formerly Rhode Island Public Radio) have announced plans to merge to create an organization that will serve Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.
“It’s definitely a merger of equals. I think collectively we all feel that we’re much stronger together as a team than trying to work independently with similar missions,” Rhode Island PBS President David Piccerelli said in a release.
The merger, which needs to be approved by the FCC and the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2024.
“By coming together, what we’re doing is we’re not only becoming stronger, but I think we’re actually ensuring our future independence even more,” The Public’s Radio CEO/GM Torey Malatia said.
Currently, the two public media groups have nearly 100 employees, with Piccerelli foreseeing an expansion in the workforce post-merger. “I think to do this properly we’re going to need more talent to make it really work,” he said. The new combined group will be headquartered at the existing PBS location.
Discussions about a merger began in earnest in August of 2022, according to Piccerelli, who first proposed a merger to then-President of Rhode Island Public Radio Joe O’Connor in 2013.
“This was not a financial decision for either one of us,” Piccerelli explained. “I mean we’re two both very strong organizations financially. This is purely about being stronger together and better serving the Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts community.”
Both boards will continue to exist until the merger is finalized. Post-merger, several members of the two boards will form one new board. Dave Laverty, chair of the Rhode Island PBS Foundation Board, and Elizabeth Delude-Dix, chair of The Public’s Radio Board of Directors, will co-chair the new organization’s board. Malatia and Piccerelli will continue to serve as CEOs. Once the merger is finalized, a national search will be conducted for the head of the combined organization.