WGBH News and Media Relations


March 13, 2013

WGBH Names Documentary Filmmaker and Executive from National Geographic Television to Head its National Productions

Expands Commitment to New Programming with Appointment of Senior Executive for Content Development
BOSTON, Mass. (March 13, 2013) – WGBH President Jonathan Abbott today announced that award-winning producer and television executive John Bredar will join WGBH as Vice President of National Programming. He succeeds Margaret Drain who steps down this spring after 25 years with the Boston public broadcaster.
Bredar comes to WGBH from National Geographic Television, where he was senior executive producer for the National Geographic Specials, a series he developed into a thriving production enterprise. He created the “Inside” series, which included the highly rated “Inside the White House” and “Inside the Vatican.” He has produced 25 documentary films on topics ranging from science and the natural world to history, drama, and political investigation.               
“John Bredar has a well-earned reputation for productions of the highest quality,” said Abbott. “He has been a partner with us on Nova, and we are thrilled that he now will be part of WGBH, leading our talented editorial teams. He embraces the educational mission of public media and will be a champion for our creative content.”
Abbott also announced the creation of a new position, Senior Executive for Content Development, and tapped respected WGBH producer and executive Denise DiIanni for the role, leading research and concept development of new programs and series.
“WGBH has been sharpening its focus on expanding our pipeline of new ideas that are essential to future content creation,” said Abbott. “I am pleased we can build on our progress under Denise’s leadership. With her experience and creativity she’ll work with John Bredar in advancing WGBH’s production capacity.”
Bredar will have oversight of WGBH’s highly acclaimed prime-time series produced in Boston and seen nationally on PBS, including American Experience, Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, and others, as well as related content for new media.
“WGBH sets a very high standard – not just with compelling programs across all their national series, but with their innovative online educational content,” said Bredar. “I’m excited about expanding the digital reach and impact of this great material to people wherever they are – in living rooms, in classrooms, or in transit – it’s a kind of inspiration on demand. That, combined with the opportunity to work with some of the most talented producers and staff in the documentary realm, constitutes an irresistible force for me.”
Bredar joined National Geographic in 1986 and has been responsible for some of its most recognized and successful programs. He has overseen the development, production and post-production of more than 150 programs, and extended the reach of National Geographic Television internationally. His productions include “Arlington: Field of Honor,” for which he won the Best Director Emmy Award, and “Darwin’s Darkest Hour,” which earned the History Maker’s Award for best historical drama. As executive producer of the co-production with WGBH’s Nova about primate intelligence, “Ape Genius,” Bredar was recognized with a George Foster Peabody Award. He wrote and executive-produced “Illicit: The Dark Trade” (based on the book by Moises Naim), which was nominated for Best Investigative Documentary Emmy. He is the author of “The President’s Photographer,” the companion book to the National Geographic Special that follows President Obama’s photographer and reveals the history of Presidential photographers.
A native of Colorado, Bredar holds a BS degree in Radio, Television and Film with a double major in US History from Northwestern University, and a MA in American Diplomatic History from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Bredar will join WGBH in early April.
Denise DiIanni is an award winning documentary producer and an accomplished media executive. During her WGBH tenure she has served in a variety of production, business and creative capacities, including: Executive in Charge of Research and Development for National Programming where she oversaw the development of limited series, including the critically acclaimed Broadway or Bust, the Lidia Celebrates America specials, and the upcoming six-part Sacred Journeys series; executive producer for Nova; Executive in Charge of Boston Media Productions, with oversight of studio and documentary programming in public affairs, arts, culture and education, including Greater Boston, High School Quiz Show, Basic Black, and La Plaza. DiIanni created Eye on Education, the groundbreaking ten-year multimedia examination of public education, and she was founding director of the WGBH Lab, public media’s first user-generated and open content project. A long-time mentor to emerging documentary makers, she also launched WGBH’s Filmmakers in Residence Program.
Prior to joining WGBH DiIanni lived and worked in Europe and Latin America as a photo editor and independent producer. She resides in Cambridge with her family.
About WGBH?
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George, Martha Speaks and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series, reaching nearly 75 million people each month. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at www.wgbh.org.


WGBH Media Relations

Emily Balk

Catherine Burke