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Lorenzo Rios is no longer president and CEO of Fresno’s public television station, Channel 18/ValleyPBS, after 16 months in the job, the station confirmed Friday morning.

Rios was a longtime board member and head of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District when he became interim president and CEO in November 2019 and later was named permanently to the post. He was the third person to head ValleyPBS in the past six years.

A call to the station about Rios’ departure was referred to Alana Gabrielson, the station’s chief financial officer. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Karen Musson, chair of the ValleyPBS board of directors, told GV Wire later Friday that Nancy Borjas, a longtime employee who resigned two weeks ago to spend more time with family, agreed to return as the station’s chief operating officer and was meeting with staff Friday.

Rios Replaced Popular TV Personality Jenny Toste After Firing

In November 2019 Rios was named to replace Jenny Toste, a former Fresno TV personality who was fired in June 2019 after seven months. She in turn had replaced Phil Meyer, who cited family obligations as the reason for his abrupt resignation in November 2017.

Thirteen months ago Rios ordered the firing of several staffers at the station because of revenue losses that he attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said at the time that the employees were administrative and not responsible for operations, but sources familiar with the layoffs told GV Wire that the persons who lost their jobs were the station’s operations/traffic manager, a production director/editor, a videographer/editor, and a Ready to Learn program coordinator.

Revenue Shortfalls Predated Pandemic

Revenue shortfalls had been a problem for ValleyPBS in recent years, according to nonprofit tax exemption reports required by the IRS.

Form 990 reports filed over a three-year period show that the station posted an operations loss of nearly $400,000 in 2014, a loss of more than $230,000 in 2015, and a loss of about $200,000 in 2016.

In 2017, the station reported that revenue exceeded expenses by more than $1 million, but by the following year the station reported expenses exceeded revenues by more than $400,000.

Rios continued to head the Clovis Veterans Memorial District even after he took over the top job at ValleyPBS. A call to the veterans district seeking comment from Rios was not immediately returned Friday morning.

ValleyPBS, with headquarters in downtown Fresno, serves a large swath of the San Joaquin Valley stretching from Merced to Bakersfield.

One Response

  1. L. William Harding

    Little wonder that Valley PBS loses big money every year. Lots of great programs, but before every program in the evening, they run this little vid with a banging noise going on the whole time. It shows a man with a grey beard walking toward the camera carrying a stack of film cans. That is just deliberate abuse of the viewers. Just transmit noise into our homes before every program and hope we contribute lots of money as a result. They should lose their broadcast license for it. Channel 47 in Fresno does the same rotten trick. They have a vid of their reporters running to a story and this horrible banging noise running the entire time. One way to cure them is to hit the mute button at the end of every program and leave the mute on during all of their commercials. When their advertisers find out that people are doing that, they won’t have many advertisers. And what made Valley PBS think that Jennifer Toste was qualified to manage a TV station? A pretty woman who had been an anchor at channel 47 for years. Because she could read copy while looking into a camera she was qualified to manage a station? Geez. Why not hire a white man who had successfully managed a couple of TV stations? They had a white male station manager a few managers back, and they ran a tape of him speaking to the viewers when he came on board. Then they ran that at the highest possible volume, a really dirty trick on him. Not surprised he quit.

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