David Liroff, 89, of Topsfield, Mass., Dies at Home
David Liroff was an esteemed public broadcaster and respected leader within the public media system. He served on numerous boards and committees, providing advice on new technology, legislative policy changes and funding models.
He joined WGBH in 1979, and held senior management responsibility for broadcasting, local program production, creative services, membership services, major gifts fundraising and capital campaign fundraising – as well as overseeing its transition to digital production and broadcasting.
Early Life and Education
Liroff earned his PhD in Radio, Television and Film Studies from Northwestern University; received his master of speech and theater from Brooklyn College/City University of New York; and graduated with his undergraduate degree in political science from MIT. Furthermore, he was an experienced broadcaster serving as director of program production at WOUB Public Media in Athens Ohio and PBS station manager at KETC St Louis Missouri.
Once Liroff had served his time as both Vice President and CTO at WGBH, he joined CPB in 2007 as Senior Vice President for System Development and Media Strategy. One of his many contributions to public broadcasting was overseeing the establishment of GBH’s inaugural audience research department and leading them through their transition to digital production. Furthermore, he frequently spoke at industry events about technology’s impact on public television broadcasting.
David Liroff was an influential public television executive with an extended and successful career in media. Known for his thoughtful approach and ability to find solutions to problems, as well as his devotion to public broadcasting, David was widely revered within his field.
He served at WGBH in Boston where he held senior management responsibilities for production services, engineering, information technology, telecom, digital asset management and the Media Archives and Preservation Center as well as audience research, major gifts fundraising and capital campaign fundraising activities.
He was an expert on the effects of new technologies on public broadcasting, serving on numerous national public broadcasting organizations’ boards as well as CPB advisory panels, working groups and the PBS technology and distribution committee. In 2008 he received an APTS Lifetime Achievement Award.
Achievement and Honors
David Liroff was one of the most revered public television executives of the late 20th century and was known for having an extraordinary heart. He made numerous noteworthy contributions to the field, such as pioneering long-running programs such as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Lord of the Dance for distribution. As CPB’s SVP for system development and media strategy, he spearheaded many innovations that are now accepted practices within public television. Liroff earned many accolades throughout his career, from honorable mentions to top tier accolades. He will be greatly missed; his loved ones include Jean (wife of 57 years) and their son Jonathan as well as two grandchildren.
Liroff was a public broadcasting and technology expert who was instrumental in overseeing PBS’ transition to digital production, while serving on numerous national organizations’ boards and advisory panels as an advocate of public media.
From 1979-2007, he served as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts, overseeing local program production, audience research, major gifts, capital campaigns, technical operations and information technology. In addition, he was the station’s inaugural full-time professional audience services manager as well as Director of Audience Research & Development.
After leaving GBH, he joined the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as Senior Vice President of System Development and Media Strategy. While at CPB, he acted as an advisor on issues including system strategy development, policy implementation, audience research and new technology investments.
David Liroff, former executive and technology strategist of GBH and CPB, passed away Saturday in Topsfield, Mass. He was widely recognized as a pioneer of long-term technical innovations for public television. Liroff served on the Board of America’s Public Television Stations or APTS and was among the early advocates for federal support of public broadcasting’s transition to digital. APT honored Liroff with its first Lifetime Achievement Award; furthermore, he also served on American Public Television Trustee and Directorship as well as NPR web services company Public Interactive.
David Liroff was born June 6 in Brooklyn and earned a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; an M.A. in Speech and Theater from Brooklyn College; and, ultimately, his PhD in Radio, Television and Film from Northwestern University.