Public Television Pioneer Bruce Christensen Dies at 79

Christensen headed PBS and also helped start UEN

Public broadcasting pioneer Bruce Christensen has died. “He was an enthusiastic early supporter of what grew to be Utah Education Network and served on our Steering Committee for many years. His wise counsel and enthusiasm for serving people through media were valuable and helped us grow to the organization we are today,” said Laura Hunter, Chief Operating Officer of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network at the University of Utah.

“All of us at America’s Public Television Stations were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bruce Christensen, the second president of this organization, later president of PBS and a truly good man,” said Patrick Butler, president and chief executive officer of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS). “Bruce’s pioneering work at both APTS and PBS contributed to a very strong and successful public television system, in ways too often overlooked with the passage of time,” said Butler.

Christensen was a KSL radio news reporter and anchor in the early 1970’s and later discovered his passion for public television leadership, serving stints as general manager of both KUED (now PBS Utah) and KBYU. He was also a senior vice president at Bonneville International and served as dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at Brigham Young University.

“Bruce Christensen is a giant of public television,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “For nearly a decade, Bruce led the entire PBS system with determination and grace, never wavering from our mission and ushering in a new era of growth. Many landmark series debuted during his time, including ‘The Civil War’ and ‘Eyes on the Prize,’ along with unique children’s programming. Throughout his tenure he was a consistent and successful champion for PBS as a beacon for education and learning for every community across our country. Bruce changed PBS for the better and could always be counted on as a friend and wise counsel in a moment of need. His legacy lives on in the system he cared so much about and the people running it. He will be missed,” said Kerger.

“Bruce was a wise and generous counselor and advisor to me and to others fortunate enough to succeed him at APTS. He also helped me launch a television production enterprise during my service at the Washington Post Company, and his later work at Bonneville Broadcasting was as distinguished as his leadership in public television,” said Patrick Butler.

obituary at

Return to home page