Idaho Public TV’s Morrill to retire after 34 years

Peter Morrill, who fought for Idaho Public Television’s programming independence in the face of challenges from the Legislature, will retire as the system’s general manager, the State Board of Education announced Wednesday.

Morrill joined Idaho Public TV in 1979 as a director/videographer and has been general manager since 1996.

Morrill was thrust into the limelight in 2000, when he decided to air a nationally distributed documentary, “It’s Elementary,” about school programs promoting tolerance of homosexuality.

Some lawmakers called for banning the show and Idaho Falls businessman Frank VanderSloot paid for billboards across the state opposing the broadcast. Working with then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, Morrill agreed to air the program later in the evening.

When Morrill was inducted into the Silver Circle by the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, his stand on the show was cited in the award: “Peter courageously and graciously stood up for the critical need for Public Television to present all ideas and to allow the public to learn and decide on issues for themselves.”

Morrill will remain on the job while the State Board of Education conducts a search for a replacement.

The State Board, which holds IPTV’s license, issued the following press release:

 

IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION’S

PETER MORRILL TO RETIRE

 

(Boise). The State Board of Education today announced the retirement of Idaho Public Television General Manager Peter Morrill.

Morrill began his service to IdahoPTV in 1979 as a director/videographer. He went on to serve as a producer/director and executive producer before being named General Manager in 1996.

Peter has been an exceptional leader, and our state has been truly fortunate to have a person of his caliber at the helm of Idaho Public Television,” said Don Soltman, Acting President of the State Board of Education.  “Under Peter’s direction, IdahoPTV has garnered national acclaim for excellence in providing programming that informs, educates and inspires.”

The Board will commence a search for a replacement and hopes to name a new general manager by the end of the summer. Mr. Morrill will continue to serve while the search is conducted and through a transition once his successor is selected.

Soltman added, “The Board greatly appreciates Peter’s willingness to assist in a search for a new general manager. He and the Board are committed to finding another outstanding leader who will continue IdahoPTV’s dedication to excellence in public broadcasting.”

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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