By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Dan Lothian is the steady hand that GBH News needs right now

Dan Lothian

Less than a week after GBH canceled its three local news and public affairs television programs while laying off 31 employees, the public media behemoth is taking a big step in the right direction. Dan Lothian, executive producer of “The World,” has been promoted to the newly created position of editor-in-chief of both “The World,” a radio program that covers international news, and of GBH News, its local operation encompassing radio, digital and, until last week, television.

Dan is a professional friend. We were fellow panelists at GBH-TV’s former media program, “Beat the Press with Emily Rooney,” and we’re colleagues at Northeastern University. A former international and national reporter for CNN, he is, above all, a steady hand and a calming presence, which no doubt is exactly what the rattled newsroom needs right now.

Lothian also brings with him the sort of goodwill needed so that he and other GBH executives will be able to take the time to figure out what’s next. GBH’s chief executive, Susan Goldberg, has said that the three former TV shows, “Greater Boston,” “Basic Black” and “Talking Politics,” will be brought back as digital programs at some point. When? What will that look like? What is the future of GBH Radio’s rivalry with WBUR, the city’s highest-rated news-focused public radio station? No, they’re not going to merge, but are there ways that they might collaborate? What is the future of the general manager’s position at GBH News, vacated last week when Pam Johnston announced she was leaving?

Anyway, I’m thrilled for Dan and for my former GBH News colleagues. What follows is the GBH press release.

Boston public media producer GBH has named Dan Lothian to the newly created role of Editor in Chief, GBH News and “The World.” An award-winning journalist with deep roots in both domestic and international news, Lothian is currently the executive producer of “The World,” public radio’s longest-running daily global news program, produced in Boston by GBH and PRX, a leading public radio and podcast distributor.

“Dan has impeccable credentials and is respected by colleagues throughout GBH and by journalists across the globe,” said Susan Goldberg, president and CEO of GBH. “With his background in both breaking news and long-form features, and with deep experience in radio, television, and across digital platforms, he is ideally suited to lead coverage for today’s audiences.”

As part of today’s announcement, Tinku Ray, currently managing editor for “The World,” will be promoted to Executive Editor of the program. She’ll continue to report to Lothian. Lee Hill, Executive Editor for GBH News, will also report to Lothian.

Lothian joined “The World” as Executive Producer in 2021. Under his leadership, the show expanded its reach, airing on a record 377 public radio stations across the United States and in Canada, reaching about 2 million people weekly. In 2022, “The World” received a $205,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to expand and sustain its coverage of the war in Ukraine. With support from the Lumina Foundation, Lothian and the team at “The World” created The World’s Global Classroom, which focused on amplifying stories from young college students. In addition to his role as executive producer, Lothian hosted “The State of Race,” a multi-platform series on race and racial inequality produced in partnership with GBH WORLD, NAACP Boston, and The Boston Globe.

“We have the opportunity to bring our audience stories by connecting the global to the local, while simultaneously delivering the critical information they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” said Lothian. “In addition, today’s environment requires a focus on innovation. To reach a wider audience, we have to find new ways and platforms to share these stories. I’m looking forward to working with all of my colleagues and partners to support the excellent journalism they produce every day.”

Lothian spent more than a decade as a correspondent for CNN, covering the White House, presidential campaigns, and breaking news. He also spent time working in CNN’s Jerusalem bureau. He began his career in radio at the age of 16 and went on to work at several local TV stations across the country. He then served as a National Correspondent at NBC News for seven years with stories on Nightly News, the Today Show, and MSNBC as well as working in both the Tel Aviv and Cairo bureaus.

Lothian will begin his new role on June 1.

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1 Comment

  1. I feel like this ought to be written down so we can point to when people STILL keep bringing it up. Here’s why WGBH and WBUR will never, ever merge: their owners have zero reason to ever do that.

    WBUR is owned by Boston University. Despite three major PR debacles in the last twenty years, BU still considers WBUR to be a jewel in its crown…and rightfully so. While those debacles have cost the university some money here and there, overall it’s a drop in the bucket to BU’s larger finances. And the PR benefits they get far outweigh those costs. It’s also possible that BU is indeed taking a cut off WBUR’s revenues; I have recently learned this is far more common than I think anyone realizes. One major top-10-market pubradio outlet owned by a college has to cough up 17% of their donation/underwriting revenue to the college. (I have heard this from a second-hand source who isn’t at the station or the college…but who would be in a position to know if this were true or not.) I personally don’t think this is the case with WBUR and BU, though, but it’s possible. More to the point, though, WBUR is killing it in the ratings and winning awards left and right every year. BU has no reason to get rid of the license, and certainly no reason to just give their FM licenses to WGBH. They’d expect to be paid full value, and that’s in the millions.

    WGBH is owned by an independent foundation, and it’s a joint licensee. Meaning both public radio and public television. Despite the cuts hitting the TV side hard, there’s no question that TV still rules the roost at GBH. They produce something like 30-40% of all public television programming in the entire PBS network. Either in-house directly or by massive support (cash or in-kind) to semi-independent productions.

    This isn’t to say radio is the bastard stepchild of WGBH, but it does mean there’s no real reason for GBH to divest themselves of the 89.7, et al, licenses. Even if they slashed all their local radio programming, it’s TV that really matters. There’s no reason to get rid of the radio operation; they can always cut it down to a much more minimal, national-programming model that will be cost-neutral. And again, they’re certainly not going to just give the radio signals away for free…and like how GBH doesn’t have the money nor the impetus to buy out WBUR’s signals? The reverse is also true; WBUR doesn’t have the money nor the need to buy out WGBH’s signals.

    I’m sure either entity would be delighted to see the other crash and burn and “go away”, leaving the public radio audience to the surviving operation. But that’ll never happen. Both of them have a long, long, LONG (decades!) way to go…and a lot more expenses they could cut…before they get to that point.

    And one last point: neither station’s Cape Cod & Islands operations matter one whit in the narrow framework of this discussion. That’s small potatoes (budget-wise) compared to what’s going on in Boston.

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