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James Leaders Loper Papers

 Collection 0144-MMC-NPBA

James L. Loper (1931-2013) became deeply involved in establishing a non-commercial television station in Los Angeles in 1962. He acted as vice president of Community Television of Southern California from 1962-1963 and assisted in putting together the license application for what would become KCET. When KCET went on air in 1964, Loper was director of educational television. About two years later, he took charge of the station, first as vice president and general manager, and then as president from 1971 to 1983.

Lopez launched several national PBS productions, including three Peabody Award-winning programs: Hollywood Television Theater (1970-1978); Visions, presenting work by new playwrights (1976-1980); and Cosmos, a 1980 miniseries co-produced with astronomer Carl Sagan. After leaving KCET, Loper served as executive director of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences from 1984 to 1999.

The collection documents Loper's work as the president and general manager of Los Angeles' public television station, KCET.


  • 1962-1984 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1973-1982

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


7.75 Linear Feet


James Leaders Loper was born on September 4, 1931 in Phoenix, Arizona. Loper attended Arizona State University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1953 in the field of journalism. He remained at ASU after his graduation, serving as the assistant and acting director of the Bureau of Broadcasting from 1953-1959. In this capacity, Loper was instrumental in the activation of KAET, the public television outlet in Tempe, Arizona. During this time, Loper also served as the weekend news editor and announcer for KTAR (Phoenix) and the eight-station Arizona Broadcasting System from 1955-1956. Loper received his Master of Arts in Radio and Television from the University of Denver in 1957. His thesis focused on the groundwork and development of KAET. In 1967, he received his Doctorate in Communications from the University of Southern California. His dissertation discussed speech communication and was entitled An Experimental Study of Some Effects of Time Compression Upon the Comprehension and Retention of a Visually Augmented Televised Speech.

Loper moved to Los Angeles, California where he served as the director of Broadcasting Service Center at California State University from 1960-1962. In 1962, he became deeply involved in the movement to establish a non-commercial television station in Los Angeles. To this end, he acted as vice president of Community Television of Southern California from 1962-1963 and assisted in putting together the license application for what would be KCET. Loper's efforts landed him a position at the newly-licensed station that went on the air in September 1964: he served as assistant to the President of KCET from 1963-1965, and director of Educational Services from 1964-1965. Loper's tenure at KCET showed a continuous climb through the ranks to upper management: assistant general manager from 1965-1966, vice president and general manager from 1966-1969, executive vice president and general manager from 1969-1971, president and general manager from 1971-1976, and lastly, president and chief executive officer from 1976-1982.

Loper's activities have not been confined to work at KCET. He has been highly committed to the mission of broadcasting in general, serving as the Chairman of the Board and director for the Public Broadcasting Service from 1969-1972, as the president of the Western Educational Network from 1968-1970, as member of the California Governor's Educational Television and Radio Advisory Committee from 1968-1974, and as the executive director of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to name a few.

Loper served as the Chairman of the Board of Visitors at the Annenberg School of Communications on the campus of the University of Southern California from 1975-1980, where he also is an adjunct professor of radio and television. Loper has published articles in various professional journals and has contributed to two monographs: ETV: The Farther Vision published in 1967, and Broadcasting and Bargaining: Labor Relations in Radio and Television published in 1970. Loper has been a prominent figure in the Los Angeles arts scene, holding board positions in the Los Angeles Arts Center, 1968-1972, the Associates of the Otis Art Institute, 1971-1977, and the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company, 1974-present. He has also been involved in various civic organizations in the Los Angeles area.


Organized as one series and nine subseries.

  1. Series 1: KCET

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The James Leaders Loper papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by James L. Loper in August of 1998.

Guide to the James Leaders Loper papers
Processed by Tara R. Hess, November 1999.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King, April 2007.
  • 2008-09-18: EAD revised by Karen E. King, September 2008
  • 2008-11-13: EAD revised by Karen E. King, November 2008
  • 2018-12-17: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Duncan Griffin.
  • 2021-08-20: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742