CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting announced Thursday that he will retire effective Dec. 21.
Dennis Adkins' announcement followed an hour-long, closed-door session of the Educational Broadcasting Authority to discuss personnel matters, and after months of Adkins being at odds with authority members over finances and the future of public broadcasting in the state.
In accepting Adkins' retirement, EBA members directed chairman Bill File of Beckley to begin a comprehensive search for a new executive director, and to appoint a task force to study the future of public broadcasting.
Adkins has wrestled with EBA members for months over the direction of public broadcasting in financial hard times, as the economy's downturn caused viewer contributions and corporate sponsorships to fall, and with the prospect of state and federal funding cuts on the horizon.
Ironically, in his presentation to the authority Thursday, Adkins said corporate underwriting for public television and radio programming has improved over the summer.
Two Charleston-based law firms -- Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff & Love; and Farmer, Cline and Campbell -- have become programming sponsors, as have Tudor's Biscuit World and the Charleston Civic Center, among others.
"We went through some tough times. That's standard in this business -- you just work through them," Adkins said.
However, he noted that West Virginia Public Broadcasting still faces a 7.5 percent funding cut in its state appropriations for the 2013-14 budget year, as do many state agencies. That amounts to a $420,000 reduction for WVPB.
Adkins said legislators might be persuaded to roll back that cut if there is sufficient public outcry to maintain the budgets for public radio and TV.
"If we have a bunch of letters from everybody not to cut, I can make that pitch," he said, referring to the authority's 2013 budget presentations to the House and Senate finance committees.
However, Education and the Arts Secretary Kay Goodwin seemed to contradict him, saying that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration has not given agencies any reason to believe the 7.5 percent cuts will be scaled back.
"Certainly, my office will not be asking that we be exempt from the cuts," Goodwin said.