Industrialist Ralph Burton Rogers (1909-1997) is considered one of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) founders for organizing more than 200 independent, mostly educational stations into a national public television system. He served as chairman of PBS from 1973 to 1979. He was widely credited with resisting the Nixon Administration's efforts to push public television out of public affairs broadcasting and cut its financing.
Rogers became interested in public broadcasting in the late 1960s, serving as chairman of KERA-TV in Dallas from 1968 to 1972. In 1972, Rogers chaired a board of lay leaders to examine the possibilities of long-range financing for public broadcasting. Rogers became chief executive of a recently reorganized PBS in 1973 and remained in this position until Newton C. Minow succeeded him in 1978.
The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, and reports regarding the Office of Telecommunications Policy, the financing of public broadcasting, and the formation of PBS.
This collection is open for research use.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publicatioght status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
2.00 Linear Feet
Industrialist and PBS executive Ralph B. Rogers was born in Boston in 1909 and was educated at Northeastern University. Before his involvement with public broadcasting, Rogers worked for or ran many industrial concerns, including Cummins Diesel Engine, Edwards Company, Hill and Rogers Diesel and Aircraft, Armstrong Rubber Export, and Rogers International. In 1950, he started work with Texas Industries in Dallas and by the following year he was chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of this company.
For much of his life, Rogers has taken an active role in public broadcasting at both the local and the national level. In Dallas, Rogers acted as the Chairman of radio station KERA from about 1968 to 1972. This chairmanship led to involvement at the national level when, in 1972, Rogers headed a board of other lay chairmen to look into the possibilities of long-range financing for public broadcasting. Rogers also clarified the role of lay chairmen by creating and chairing the National Coordinating Committee for Governing Board Chairmen. In 1973, Rogers was named chief executive officer of a recently reorganized Public Broadcasting Service, a position he used to improve relations with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He also served as chairman of the PBS Board of Governors. Rogers served in this position until he was succeeded by Newton C. Minow in 1978.
In addition to his work for PBS, Rogers was chairman emeritus of the Public Communication Foundation of North Texas; a member of the Board of Directors of the National Captioning Institute; and a cofounder of the Children's Television Workshop.
Rogers's other activities included being a trustee for Northeastern University, volunteering for St. Marks School, Texas, and holding emeritus status at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society. In addition, he was the President of the Dallas Foundation for Health Education, and Research.
Rogers died in 1997.
Organized as two series.
The Ralph B. Rogers papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Ralph B. Rogers in July 1990, March 1991 and October 1994.