In 2009, Westporters click through hundreds of channels, looking for something decent. As they’ve done for decades, they often land on Channel 13.
New York’s public station has been around forever, it seems. The number of tote bags and umbrellas attests to its perennial local popularity.
But in the 1960s its existence was in peril. Without Jack Kiermaier — a longtime Westporter who died last week at 87 — there might have been no Channel 13.
According to the New York Times, when Kiermaier became president of station WNDT in 1964 it faced severe budget problems. Over the next 5 years he secured significant grants from organizations like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the CBS network, where he had worked for 5 years.
The result: improved morale and excitement among employees, which led to improved, innovative programming that helped save the station. Kiermaier also increased increased Channel 13’s scheduling to 7 days a week, from 5.
After leaving the station in 1960, he became a vice chancellor of Long Island University, then president of the CBS Foundation. He was active in Westport life, including several terms as an RTM representative.
Channel 13 often reminds us not to take it for granted. Without Jack Kiermaier, it might not have survived long enough to ask us for its continued support.