Remarks by BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson about Former Governors

Remarks as prepared

We are gathered today to learn from you, the former members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It is also an occasion to honor the service of the four most recent departing members of the Board.

We are grateful to you for your long and dedicated service to the mission of U.S. international broadcasting. You have given us an important legacy to build upon.

  • You initiated ambitious broadcasting projects that have reaped significant successes, including increasing global audiences by 75 percent since 2002.
  • You were supportive of new media initiatives before the term was popular.
  • You recognized the value of training and employee recognition and restored budgets for these activities.
  • You took strong stands on critical issues.
  • Most importantly, you tenaciously defended the journalistic mission of the Agency and preserved the firewall.

Now, please allow me to be a bit more specific.

Joaquin Blaya

Joaquin brought a wealth of experience and know-how of commercial TV and the Latin American audience. His was generous with his treasury of knowledge. He brought vision and enthusiasm for new projects with Alhurra, Radio and TV Marti and VOA. Joaquin, it has been said, it a quiet person. When he speaks, I sit up and listen as did his colleagues for his judicious comments, particularly for his marketing and broadcasting savvy.

Blanquita Cullum [joining us via telephone]

Blanquita also drew upon her vast experience as a broadcaster to help inspire the front-line employees. She brought vivacity as well as a personal commitment to connect with the individual broadcasters. She was always on hand to recognize excellence through awards programs, to offer encouragement amidst crisis broadcasting and to build bridges with mainstream media in order to shine a light on the important achievements of the entities.

Jeffrey Hirschberg

Jeff Hirschberg brought his acumen and gift for synthesizing complex issues to their essence to the labyrinth of international broadcasting. He is an astute observer of both world affairs as well as the dynamics of Washington. Jeff was always there when needed, to roll up his sleeves and support the managers and staff of this operation as well as to serve as a vocal champion for journalists under threat.

Steve Simmons

Steve demonstrated a deep commitment to the BBG mission and brought a goal-oriented private sector approach to his assignment. His powerful curiosity and desire to be well informed meant he quickly mastered the intricacies of overseas broadcasting. Steve