Former KCET, WNET Exec Bill Lamb Dies
Pioneer Ushered American Playhouse and More Onto Public Television
A Founder of New York's Thirteen/WNET
Los Angeles, CA – William J. Lamb, a former chief operating officer for KCET-TV in Los Angeles and founder of New York public television station WNET, died Saturday. The 76-year-old Santa Cruz resident reportedly suffered a stroke following heart surgery.
Lamb joined KCET in 1974, serving as vice president and later CEO during his six years with the station. He oversaw a number productions such as The Cousteau Odyssey and JazzAmerica and helped to usher such programs onto public television as American Playhouse.
Lamb began his television career in New York City in 1956, his birthplace, holding a variety of posts at NBC. In 1962, the Harvard University MBA graduate later helped create the station we now know as Thirteen/WNET, public television for New York. By his departure in 1971, Lamb had become vice president and general manager, and held a board of directors seat.
He then headed Sterling Manhattan Cable, served as a consultant for the service now known as Home Box Office and returned to public television with his move to KCET.
Following his tenure with KCET, the television executive returned to WNET in 1981, where Lamb earned Peabody Award for his work on the Heritage: Civilization and the Jews series. He also oversaw productions for such well-known WNET staples as Nature and Great Performances.
In 1984, Lamb moved on as an independent producer for PBS and headed two production companies, Polymuse, Inc. and later Varitel.
Bill Lamb is survived by longtime companion Marcie Setlow, former wife Marylou Lamb, a daughter, two sons, a sister and four grandchildren.