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UA faculty member to head APTV

Matt Mecoli

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In the aftermath of a scandal that stuck at the core of Alabama Public Television, one UA faculty member is being tasked with leading the group forward.

Roy Clem, the director of commercial broadcasting and the general manager for broadcast operations at the College of Communications, will be leaving his job this Friday to take over as executive director for APTV.

Clem has been at the University since 2005 and has worked with the Center for Public TV and Radio, which contain WVUA and WUOA.

Clem takes the position at APT amid turmoil, including firings, resignations and a lawsuit.

On June 12, executive director Allan Pizzato and deputy director and CFO Pauline Howland were fired following a 5-2 vote of the Alabama Educational Television Commission, which runs APTV.

The firings led to upheaval and debate due to their perceived political nature. Nine leaders in APTV fundraising organizations and chief operations officer Charles Grantham have resigned since the firings in protest.

There has been speculation, supported by a lawsuit filed by Pizzato, that the firings were related to a controversial documentary series by evangelical Christian activist David Barton.

Barton has been accused of having historical inaccuracies and bias in his works.

AETC Chairman Ferris Stephens denies that Barton’s program had anything to do with the firings.

“We had just differences of opinion over time,” Stephens said.

The tapes did come up, Clem said.

“When I went and met with the staff, one person asked me, ‘Will we be running that program under your leadership?’ and I said, ‘No. Next question,” he said.

Stephens also confirmed that there are no plans to have Barton’s tapes played on APTV.

Barton did not wish to make a comment.

Clem began his career in broadcast journalism in Denver, Colo. After his time in broadcast journalism, he spent 12 years as a Denver police officer, eventually becoming a detective sergeant.

“The difference between a reporter and a cop is surprisingly little: you’re exposed to a lot, need to notice things and ask questions, and cops and reporters are usually the first groups on the scene of something,” Clem said.

In 1986, Clem took a job as an anchor at what he called “the smallest TV station in the country” after he and his wife decided to move in order to raise their kids in the more rural setting in which they were raised.

He moved to Virginia as a news director in 1992 and then to Birmingham in 1999 as the general manager of the ABC affiliate there, before arriving at the University in 2005 as a consultant.

The station now has a signal that reaches over 3.1 million people, has won 14 Associated Press awards in the small market category and received three Emmy nominations.

“I love living in Tuscaloosa, but it’s one of those rare opportunities to do something unique and challenging, there are some things a state-wide network can do that a local network can’t,” Clem said.

“I met the staff at [APTV] and they’re terrific, and now I need to get in there to get my arms around the issues,” he said. “I hope I can go in and calm troubled waters. I want to focus on the future.”

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UA faculty member to head APTV