After five years at the helm of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, executive director Scott Finn announced Thursday he is leaving May 4 to become CEO of Vermont Public Radio.

“It’s a really, really good opportunity for my family and me,” said Finn, who helped stabilize WVPB finances during a period of ongoing state budget cuts.

“WVPB is in great shape. That’s a reason I felt I could do this,” he said.

During Finn’s tenure, WVPB enhanced its news and legislative coverage, and added two new TV channels, the West Virginia Channel and PBS Kids, despite state funding cuts.

As state funding for WVPB dropped from $5.5 million in 2011-12 to $3.6 million in the current budget — with the 2018-19 budget also at $3.6 million — Finn oversaw efforts to significantly increase viewer contributions and corporate sponsorship, while reducing personnel and closing television studios and master control facilities in Beckley to reduce costs.

“We can’t take for granted any of our support,” Finn said. “We have to work hard for it, and explain to the public the value of what we do.”

Unlike WVPB, Vermont Public Radio is a community licensed nonprofit that receives no state funding.

As a radio-only network, Finn said Vermont Public Radio is able to devote more resources to news reporting and “telling the story” of Vermont.

Finn said other considerations played into his decision, namely assuring the best opportunities for his son, Max, who has autism.

“At the end of the day, we have to go to the place that has the best possible resources for him,” Finn said of his son.

State Educational Broadcasting Authority Chairman Bill File said the EBA will meet shortly to internally appoint an interim executive director/CEO, and will conduct a national search for a permanent replacement.

“I have every reason to believe they are going to have lots and lots of high quality people applying for this position,” Finn said.

“On behalf of the Educational Broadcasting Authority, we are sorry to see Scott leave West Virginia Public Broadcasting. He has done an outstanding job and has led us through some challenging times,” File said in a statement. “Thanks to his vision and leadership, West Virginia Public Broadcasting is stronger and better than it has ever been.”

Finn became executive director of WVPB on Feb. 1, 2013, returning after serving as news director, producer and reporter from 2007-09. In between, he was news director for WUSF-TV in Tampa.

Prior to his first stint at WVPB, Finn had been a reporter for the Charleston Gazette.

As for the transition from one mountain state to another, Finn joked, “I decided I would go from the state with the most support for President Trump to the state with the least.”

Finn is married to Wendy Radcliff, a lawyer, a former state assistant attorney general, and former environmental advocate for the Department of Environmental Protection. In addition to Max, 12, they have a daughter, Iris, 15.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

Statehouse Reporter