WQED President and CEO Deborah Acklin resigns following cancer diagnosis


Deborah Acklin, president and CEO of WQED Multimedia, announced that she is stepping down following a diagnosis of lung cancer in a non-smoker.

Acklin directed the Pittsburgh PBS and Classical 89.3 WQED-FM combo since 2010 after serving as executive vice president from 2002 to 2009. She also worked with the group as an executive producer from 1997 to 2000 before leaving for National Geographic Channel. She also spent fourteen years as a producer at KDKA-TV Pittsburgh.

WQED President and CEO Deborah Acklin is stepping down after 12 years of leadership and success to focus on essential medical treatments following a diagnosis of lung cancer in non-smokers.

As WQED’s first female President and CEO, Deb has served in her current position since 2010 and, prior to that, held leadership positions across a wide range of organizational operations – from Executive Producer to Executive Vice President and Executive Director. Among her many accomplishments, she lifted WQED from crippling debt and functional bankruptcy to become a financially thriving media powerhouse. His tenure is also marked by the recognition of unprecedented professional awards for producing meaningful content locally, nationally and internationally, and for building and nurturing a nationally recognized education department.

A champion of public media, Deb’s production and distribution experience has allowed WQED Pittsburgh to remain a national and international content creator, distributing The Pittsburgh Symphony Radio series and epic documentaries including August Wilson: The Ground on Which IStand; Port of the Holocaust; and The War That Made America, the latter, for which she served as executive producer. She also envisioned the potential for music showcases Doo Wop, which raised millions and became a favorite of PBS’s pledge shows nationwide.

A storyteller, dating back to her earliest days of broadcasting news, Deb has brought poignant stories of Pittsburgh to life, with some of her favorite local documentaries being The Great Ride, Pittsburgh From the Air and Rick Sebak’s Pittsburgh History Series. Also under his leadership, WQED boldly embarked on the production of the local nightly news magazine show, “On Q”, which ran for a decade.

The Pittsburgh native has also amassed a host of accolades and awards throughout her career at WQED, including six Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards® for Station Excellence, given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to a General Manager of commercial or public television. station in a four-state area. These are in addition to many other awards given to the station, including the Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy®, Golden Quill, Robert L. Vann Media and Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters awards for the station’s lifetime achievement under its direction.

Deb Acklin was named the 2018 Carlow University Woman of Spirit®, the 2018 Pittsburgh Business Times Woman of Influence, and received the 2018 National Public Media Advocacy Award from US Public Television Stations.

Nationally, Deb was elected by her peers to serve on the boards of directors of PBS, US Public Television Networks and the PBS Major Market Group. Locally, she has been sought out to provide leadership and advice to community councils in Pittsburgh, including the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony, University of Carlow, Winchester-Thurston School, and Kelly Strayhorn Theatre. As chair of the Three Rivers Arts Festival Advisory Board, she was responsible for reviving the festival by transferring her oversight to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

In his own words, “Running WQED – my hometown PBS and classical music station – has been a singular professional honor. Growing up, these were almost the only channels we watched and listened to. The first day on the job, I met Fred Rogers, and everything crystallized instantly for me. I hope I was a student worthy of his life’s example. Thank you, Pittsburgh!

We love you Deb and wish you the speediest of recoveries!


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