Al Bartholet, Executive Director and General Manager for WMRA and WEMC, is retiring after working in radio for nearly 40 years. Bartholet came to WMRA in 2013 after a 32 year career with WKSU in Kent, Ohio. Bartholet leaves WMRA with a legacy of increased local news, new fundraising strategies and expanded community engagement.
Under his tenure as WMRA’s Executive Director, Bartholet established the News and Information Fund, which allowed WMRA to begin building a team of freelance reporters working to cover issues throughout the WMRA broadcast region. Since the beginning of this effort, WMRA has produced over 400 local reports along with numerous special news series. The current team of freelance reporters now comprises 15 reporters and continues to grow.
In addition to WMRA’s renewed focus on local reporting, Bartholet spear-headed the effort to reimagine on-air fundraising and establish the More News, Less Noise approach now in place at WMRA. Since the spring of 2015, WMRA has conducted on-air fundraisers that do not interrupt regular programming. This approach has been overwhelmingly applauded by WMRA listeners and supporters.
Al Bartholet also leaves behind a culture of community engagement at WMRA. Bartholet was instrumental in establishing the Books & Brews series at Pale Fire Brewery, which is now expanding to Kardinal Hall in Charlottesville. Bartholet supported community involvement on many levels and encouraged staff to seek out and participate in numerous events throughout the year.
Prior to coming to WMRA, Al Bartholet spent 32 years at WKSU, the NPR station licensed to Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He first came to WKSU as a Kent State student employee; and in 2001, Bartholet became WKSU’s fourth general manager. Bartholet’s tenure at WKSU was also distinguished by his pioneering approaches. Among his most groundbreaking initiatives, and one that gives him the most personal satisfaction, was establishing Folk Alley, an international Internet folk music service that attracts listeners from across the U.S. and around the globe.
The staff at WMRA are sad to see Al Bartholet depart as Executive Director but take great pride in the accomplishments achieved together under his direction and guidance. When reflecting on his tenure as Executive Director for WMRA, Bartholet said, “I am most grateful to all of you and this wonderful community for making my time here very memorable. I wish you all the best going forward.” He then added, “There’s a good team in place so now it’s time to play ball.”
In this new chapter of his life, Bartholet looks forward to spending time with family (especially his grandson) and friends (most of whom are connected in some way to public radio).
Al Bartholet’s retirement is effective September 30, 2017 and WMRA’s Assistant General Manager, Matt Bingay has been appointed as Interim General Manager. A national search for the next Executive Director for WMRA is now underway.