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Ward Chamberlin

Ward Chamberlin, former president and CEO of WETA. (Photo: Courtesy of WNET)WETA is saddened to share the news of the passing of Ward Chamberlin on February 23, 2017. Ward served as President and CEO of WETA for fourteen years, from 1975 until 1989, and then as the Vice Chairman of our Board of Trustees until 1994. Ward was one of the founders of public broadcasting and played a major role in creating PBS and NPR.

Ward was also instrumental in developing WETA's relationship with Ken Burns and Florentine Films. At Ken's first meeting at WETA, Ward decided to write him a check on-the-spot to complete a film, and a thirty-plus-year partnership was born. Years later, for his seminal 2007 film The War, Ken featured Ward's time in North Africa and Italy as a volunteer ambulance driver with the American Field Service in World War II. To learn more about Ward Chamberlin's time in World War II, visit The War profile of him here.

In the video clip below, Ken Burns tells in his own words how his relationship with WETA began with a bold decision by then-WETA president Ward Chamberlin.

Ward's passion for public service was luminous, and he inspired many. A trusted colleague and a true example of leadership, we will miss him dearly, as will our colleagues at WNET, where Ward served as their Executive Vice President for eight years, until his retirement in 2003.

Tributes and News Reports

The Washington Post: Ward Chamberlin Jr., a 'founding father' of public broadcasting, dies at 95

The New York Times: Ward Chamberlin Jr., Architect of Nation’s Public Broadcasting, Dies at 95

New York Daily News: Ward Chamberlin Jr., pioneering public broadcasting boss of PBS and NPR, dead at 95

Current: Ward Chamberlin, influential founding father of public broadcasting, dies at 95

PBS: Statement from Paula Kerger, President and CEO, PBS on Ward Chamberin Jr.

PBS NewsHour: Video Tribute to Ward Chamberlin Jr. (Segment begins at 52:44)

Washington Week: Video Tribute to Ward Chamberlin Jr. (Segment begins at 23:43)

View a photo slideshow of Ward's career below.


Sympathy cards for Mr. Chamberlin’s family may be sent in care of WETA to the following address:

The Family of Ward Chamberlin
c/o Sharon Rockefeller President and CEO WETA
3939 Campbell Avenue
Arlington, VA 22206

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