As CEO of WTVP-TV, as well as WILL’s PBS and NPR stations in Champaign-Urbana, Moss Bresnahan has devoted his career to public broadcasting. He grew up a “Navy brat,” then traveled the world as an officer in the Navy himself, before working in newspapers and cable TV. “But I loved how public TV was informing and inspiring people,” he recalls, “and I knew that was for me.” After managing PBS stations in Iowa, South Carolina and Washington, he moved back to Illinois last year for the challenge of building collaborations between WTVP and WILL, among other partnerships. He’s also been busy developing a new downstate journalism collaborative with five public radio stations.

  1. Words to live by: I always loved this quote by Edward R. Murrow back when TV was in its infancy: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”
  2. Favorite vacation spot: Most of my summers growing up were spent working on the sandy beaches and dunes of Cape Cod. “The Cape” is a mecca for outdoor activities, sailing and seafood.
  3. Favorite meal: A New England clambake, but you have to say it right: Lobstah, chowdah, steamahs and beeya!
  4. Greatest fear: A power outage during an episode of Downton Abbey.
  5. Person who’s had the greatest impact on my life: My father, who grew up in Boston housing projects and went on to become a two-star Navy admiral and president of a college. Through it all, he always kept family first.
  6. Famous person, dead or alive, I’d like to meet: Abraham Lincoln, in part due to his presidential greatness, but even more so because of his character, work ethic and humble origins.
  7. Which living person do you most admire? Malala Yousafzai, who survived a devastating attack by the Taliban to become the world’s most admired children’s rights advocate—all the more powerful because she’s just a child herself.
  8. Who are your heroes in real life? Martin Luther King, Jr., who despite howling mobs and numerous threats, remained committed to nonviolent protest; Stephen Hawking, who overcame enormous challenges to do groundbreaking work; and Fred Rogers, the much-loved TV host who saved public broadcasting in its early days.
  9. What’s the best thing about being you? My two awesome children: son Moss, 17, and daughter Liv, 14.
  10. My childhood dream job: I drew a cartoon strip for my school newspaper and won several art contests as a kid. My dream was to become a cartoonist for Disney. a&s