APT Names Halford VP Exchange Content, Digital
American Public Television (APT) has chosen Shawn Halford, a public television veteran who has held key national content positions at PBS and Discovery Communications, to be vice president of exchange content and digital services starting in October. Halford succeeds Chris Funkhouser, who is retiring after 40 years in public media.
Currently PBS’s senior director for programming and scheduling, Halford is known for his strategic leadership of content vision, planning, development, scheduling and business intelligence to drive consumer engagement. He was central to the team that boosted PBS’s network primetime audience ranking from 12th to 6th place.
At PBS for more than 20 years, he has been critical to the planning and execution of high-impact, multiplatform events, including the 2017 Ken Burns series The Vietnam War, reaching more than 39 million unique viewers on broadcast, and millions more via on demand platforms.
At APT, Halford will oversee a wide range of programming genres in the distributor’s largest programming division. His APT portfolio will include television brands ranging from America’s Test Kitchen and Rick Steves’ Europe to Nightly Business Report and hundreds of award-winning documentaries. Halford will also be a key manager in the team distributing the national lifestyle channel Create and the non-fiction World channel, two leading public media multicast services.
According to Cynthia Fenneman, APT president and CEO, Halford was selected from an extensive pool of highly qualified candidates. “Popular, talent-driven and smart content is at the heart of APT’s work,” said Fenneman. “Shawn brings a passion for content, public media and cable network experience, solid understanding of digital platforms, strong respect from peers across the system, stellar integrity, and strategic thinking skills — all central to APT’s organizational direction now and in the future. A prolific content leader, he will be collaborating with producers worldwide and public TV stations to provide compelling, worthwhile content for viewers.”
Halford has built an lengthy career in public media during which he has forged strong relationships with APT’s station customer base. Along with his oversight of content execution strategies, he managed the PBS Plus syndication service and has been steeped in cross-departmental collaborations with PBS digital teams on multiplatform content rollout and with marketing and communications on the most effective content launch strategies.
Halford joined PBS in 1997 as associate director of PBS program scheduling. Since then his position has grown, first to director of PBS Program Scheduling and Editorial Management. In his early years, Halford was central to the launch team and scheduled the first PBS HD channel, multicast PBS Kids Channel and PBS You Channel.
Since moving to his current position of Senior Director, Programming and Scheduling in 2006, he has been central to the strategic planning and scheduling of content for both national PBS general audiences and for children’s content across multiple channels and platforms.
Before joining PBS, Halford served in programming and network operations at Discovery Communications from 1993 to 1997. At Discovery Channel and TLC, Halford scheduled content, implemented new program clocks to better flow audience from program to program, and devised strategic promotions scheduling.
After graduation with a B.A. in communications from Penn State University, Halford’s first position was at Nostalgia Television, where he worked in programming and traffic, including work as a segment producer and production assistant.
Halford joins APT on Oct. 10, when he will begin transitioning into the position with Funkhouser. Funkhouser is retiring in early November after 20 years at APT and another 20 years in public media, including programming positions at Vermont Public Television, New Hampshire PBS and WLIW New York.