Lyda Hill's Giving $1 Million to Public Radio, and KERA Isn't Even Going To Send Her a Coffee Mug

Lydia Hill.jpg
You might not expect the granddaughter of H.L. Hunt, the oil magnate who inspired Larry Hagman's character on Dallas, to be particularly fond of public radio. But as it turns out, Lyda Hill is very fond indeed of her local NPR affiliate, KERA.

The station announced today that Hill's foundation is writing the station a $1 million check to expand local news programming. It was her largesse that has made possible the weekly Health Checkup segment with Sam Baker and two series, Going Green: The Practical Payoffs and Engineering Hope.

KERA spokesman Chris Wagley said that in the wake of those programs KERA conducted a focus group with community leaders on what they wanted from the station.

"The outcome of that was they wanted more local news, and the kind of news that only public media can provide," Wagley said.

So, the station sketched out the rough plan to expand its coverage of local news and presented it to Hill. She was reportedly happy with the outcome of her last gift and agreed to help fund the expansion.

KERA's first move has been to hire Rick Holter as vice president for news. Holter worked for 15 years at the Morning News, mostly as arts editor, before moving on to become an editor at NPR. There will be additional hires, Wagley said, but who they are and what they will do will be determined once Holter is officially on board.

The real question is what sort of KERA swag Hill's getting for the donation. Ten thousand coffee mugs? Carl Kasell's voice on her home answering machine? Nope.

"She does not get anything other than the good feeling of donating to public people knowing she's going to have a positive impact for North Texans," Wagley said.

That seemed a bit stingy. Not even a single coffee mug?

Wagley finally conceded that "If Ms. Hill would like a coffee mug, we are happy to give Ms. Hill a coffee mug."

My Voice Nation Help

Good for her. That is awesome! I'm not worried about Big Bird and all the commercial children's programming. It will rock on, even if they get the ax of our tax. BB and his Muppet pals are owned by Walt Disney Company. They make so much money from toy, clothing, game, video and licensing the franchise in everything from coloring books to ice Capades, they can afford to start another free cable network. They own the Kermit Channel in Asia and the Odyssey Channel in the US. You haven't lived until you've seen Big Bird on ice, btw.


Our local KERA television does not represent an international city and find it embarrassingly unsophisticated. I personally love watching BBCA for current English programming and I'm afraid if you put your hand in my popcorn bowl and watch it with me, you will subjected to me talking with a really good fake British accent the entire time.


If it is about the money and they need more of it, they might try showing serials and movies from around the globe. It would prove to the world that we are actually better than Tulsa, Oklahoma, by actually serving our public. By scheduling foreign films and series that are subtitled, I'm thinking our fellow Americans of Asian, Irish, Italian, Scottish, Jamaican, African, Greek, Hispanic, and French descent, would feel like our public television would be worth contributing to. And that would be very cool.


As it stands, our local PBS station has become a TV Land for old British comedies and if they don't have the energy or desire to do something about it, it's time to pull the plug. Several major cities already have.

primi_timpano topcommenter

I wish made this donation during the pledge drive and saved us all a lot of dead air.


Who the heck is that a picture of ?? The file name says Lydia Hill which suggests you guys just pull pics off of google and also don't have editors.


Lyda Hill is an unsung (or at least under-sung) angel in this city. She is not just an heiress. She's a businesswoman. She founded a travel agency and built it into the largest agency in Texas. Like Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, she is a member of The Giving Pledge, having committed to donate the majority of her wealth to philanthropic causes either during her lifetime or after her death. She has committed $20 million to Hockaday. She created the Volunteer Connection to promote volunteerism throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, a model that has been replicated in more than 70 cities and earned her the President’s Volunteer Action Award from the White House. In Dallas, she has been preeminent supporter of the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), which provides Meals on Wheels and home health services to shut-ins. She made a $1 million lead gift to the Dallas Foundation's Safety Net Fund, created in 2008 to assist nonprofits that need emergency financial assistance in bleak economic times. J.R. on Dallas bears no resemblance to Lyda Hill.

mcdallas topcommenter

("The outcome of that was they wanted more local news, and the kind of news that only public media can provide," Wagley said.")


The kind of news that only public media can provide = crappy, 1970's style news. Poor audio, terrible lighting, grainy video.  Only public media can provide that.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Could this be the basis of the editorial decision as to why John Jay Myers would not be participating in KERA's senatorial candidate debate?


Come on, for $1,000,000 she should at least get the French Press Double Shot Travel Mug they were hyping during the last pledge drive.


They're gonna need that cash when Resident Romney throws Big Bird under the bus.


 @donnaharris Oops, a friend said, what about me when she read it? I didn't mean to leave out my Russian and Hungarian friends or  the 500 or so different ethnicity's, religions and races of people who call Dallas home.  Just saying....


joe.tone moderator

 @Confused It's a picture of the subject of the story. The file name is misspelled. Sorry for the confusion.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @Topham It is nice that she turned out to be a better person than some of her uncles.  However, having a billionaire for a grandfather didn't exactly hinder her in her ability to start a travel agency and make a series of charitable contributions from a trust that her grandfather endowed to her.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @Topham I may be ill informed, but a school that is only k-8 and charges $24k/year to attend probably shouldn't be considered a charitable contribution.  Unless she's pledging that 20 million to pay for 833 annual tuitions for poor and disadvantaged girls.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @donnaharris Thanks for bringing up the ownership of BB and company.


the number of individuals who have made a tremendous amount of money off of PBS is absolutely astounding.  If these people would just provide a portion of their profits back to PBS, PBS would be just flush with cash.


Some of the actors that I refer to are Barney, the Muppets, Tavis Smiley, All Things Considered ...

mavdog topcommenter

Hmm, a few thoughts:

Hockaday is K-12. It does charge $24K/year once the student is in their Middle School. Lower School tuition is 25% less.

How these facts relate to the $20 Million donation not being "charitable" is the question. How would a donation such as this NOT be considered charitable?

The donation was announced as directed towards investing in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) component at the school. A new facility and faculty/program monies.

Anyone who has looked at the historical issues women have confronted in the STEM subjects would understand just how meaningful this charitable donation is.

I'm not in any way involved with Hockaday, my kids did not go there, and it is baffling to me why anyone would criticize/minimize Hill's sizeable charitable donation to the school.

BTW almost 20% of the student body at Hockaday receive some financial assistance, which is common for any of the select private schools in Dallas.



LOL. Travis Smalley is syndicated like Dear Abby. Mattel, Disney and the staffing starting at the national level would be a better analysis. Don't they show Smalley, like, in the middle of the night?  Locally on the radio, he is heard on KNON. Wondering what the relationship is between the two. Does KERA pay KNON to air it, like Disney and Mattel pay PBS. I presume that is their business model.


We need people like Smalley on KERA television and Radio. Listening to other peoples views and opinions, who differ from ours, is education. That is the point of public radio and television, isn't it?  Unfortunately, one black guy in the middle of the night does not equal the right to show hours and hours and hours of  programming from the UK, antiquated and otherwise.  The business model for the local television station is designed with blinders on.  


Unfortunately, that is the problem with all of our editorial boards in Dallas.  You can't have a group of people with the same experiences, directing thoughtful, educational media for an international city. Just because people travel around the world, doesn't make them sociological astute.  The limitation in perspective by not having a broad sociological upbringing, unfortunately, prevents them from guiding unique research, programming and commentary. When listening to some of the questions by talk show hosts, it is especially glaring. I think we would all benefit from having a well-rounded media as opposed to segregated media.


That is what PBS is supposed to be.


At this stage, PBS is a conglomerate private non-profit, traditional media company.  With the internet and cable, there are tons of independent media out there, now. A wealthy private non-profit whether it's the media or the Dallas Arboretum, should not be getting tax dollars, if they don't really represent the public.


Sesame Street is a very small percentage of their 24 hour programming schedule.


Last week, white students at UT Austin were charged with throwing bleach bombs on black students. Growing up watching cartoon characters and puppets in various shades of beige obviously didn't do much for cultural awareness and acceptance.  Given that the University only admits, the top 8% of students, in regards to academia, it made me weep.


I love public media and at  one time I loved PBS television.  While they were alive, my parents contributed every year. Unfortunately, like Big Bird, PBS television never grew up and the programming, commentators, strategic planning and marketing is antiquated, unimaginative and insulting.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @mavdog As I said, i'm not well-informed on Hockaday.  Their website lists K-8, with tuitions all over 20K/year.  I had no idea what their "Form I-IV" items were and didn't want to be presumptuous.


 As for my reasoning for not considering it charitable.  My own definition of charity is giving of one's self or of one's means to provide for those most in desperate need.  I despise many of the organizations who pass themselves off as charities and rake in millions per year with a pittance spent on the actual charity.  (I'm not likening this to Hockaday or Ms. Hill, it's just where a lot of my intolerance comes from).  In my estimation, a private school with the endowment of Hockaday and the annual collection of Hockaday would not fit my definition of a charity.  For you, it obviously does.

scottindallas topcommenter

 @Chuck_Schick  @mcdallas   Those defense spending increases, coupled with Romney's tax cuts, would create a one trillion dollar per year annual deficit burden.  To make that up through growth would involve increase the economy by 40%.   Now, that's hard to see. 


 @mcdallas I like PBS and the broadcasting it provides, and will continue to support it even if Romney cuts the $450 million to PBS to pay for his "revenue neutral" increase of $450 billion to the military. Math!


 @mcdallas  @cynicaloldbastard Actually, the story says she donated it to the radio station. Not the TV station. So cynical old bastard's quip about radio's terrible lighting and grainy video is on-target.

Now Trending

From the Vault