Matt Abramovitz has taken the helm of New England Public Media almost three years after a radio and television merger that brought Springfield's public radio station into a partnership with Boston public media giant GBH.
While the merger between New England Public Radio and WGBY-TV — a subsidiary of GBH — became official in Spring 2019, Abramovitz's challenge will be to bring these two organizations together. Largely due to the pre-pandemic timing of the deal, the radio and television staff have yet to work together in one building.
That will change when NEPM's radio staff moves into an expanded facility in downtown Springfield. The relocation is planned for this summer. Combined, Abramovitz, who took the reins as president this week, oversees a staff of more than 80 full and part-time employees.
"My priority is to kind of make sure that I'm taking care of this team and making sure that we kind of get ready for the next wave of our lives together on a strong footing as one unified group," Abramovitz said.
Most recently, Abramovitz was vice president of programming for New York’s classical music station WQXR. He succeeds Martin Miller, who announced his plan to step down last year. Miller will stay on as a senior counsel focusing on fundraising for NEPM.
Abramovitz says another top priority is to better understand western New England audiences, which are spread out across four different media markets.
"It's not just thinking about websites and apps and shows and podcasts, but thinking about audiences and what they really need for us to deliver," Abramovitz said. "And I think that the biggest challenge is trying to refocus so it's not just about platforms, but it's about people."
NEPM's radio station, which is part of a group of New England stations — including WBUR — that collaborate and share some reporting content, has seen a 10-15% decline in listenership during the pandemic, according to the Radio Research Consortium. Those numbers are in line with national trends.
When the merger was announced, GBH promised to invest $6 million in the media company to expand the newsroom and increase community engagement.