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Former WCET-TV GM Susan Howarth Dies At 66

Courtesy CET
Susan Howarth

Susan Howarth, who was WCET-TV president and CEO until the station merged with Dayton's WPTD-TV in 2008, died Wednesday of cancer in Tampa. She was 66.

Howarth had been president and CEO of Tampa's WEDU-TV since 2010. She was hired by WCET-TV in  2001, after the departure of W. Wayne Godwin.

The 43-year public broadcasting veteran led the digital revolution at WCET-TV (Channel 48), the nation's first licensed public TV station.

Credit Courtesy CET

Under her leadership, WCET-TV became the first Ohio public TV station to add digital multicast channels in 2002, according to the CET timeline. She launched the CETconnect website in 2006, the nation's first public media website to feature on-demand video, and for a year she moved the Action Auction fund-raiser from the airwaves to online.  

After the riots in Cincinnati in April 2001, she created the Cincinnati Media Collaborative and the Common Ground  series of programs and discussion about race relations. It won a National CEN Community Service Award in 2002.

Before Cincinnati, she worked at WNED/WNEQ-Western New York Public Broadcasting; WUFT-TV in Gainesville, Florida; KOZK-TV in Springfield, Mo.; and Connecticut Public Television (CPTV). The WEDU-TV story says she "served in leadership positions with numerous regional and national public broadcasting organizations including the PBS Board of Directors, where she served as Vice Chair for three years."

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Susan was preceded in death by her parents Josie and George Howarth. She is survived by her siblings Judy of Seymour, CT; John (Chris) of Canton, CT; Richard of Danbury, CT; Ellie Lewis of Southbury, CT; and nephews and cousins. Susan will be fondly remembered by her "Gal Posse," Dawn Bertsche of Cincinnati, OH; Mona Dixon of Conway, AR; Ann Hasselmo of Seabrook, TX; Rita Ray of Charleston, WV; Debbie Ricciardi of Raleigh, NC; and Sue Ellen Stuebing of Ft. Mitchell, KY – friendships that spanned decades and she held near and dear to her heart. In honoring her wishes and dedication to public broadcasting, memorial donations in memory of Susan can be made to WEDU PBS at 1300 N Boulevard, Tampa, Fl. 33607 or to your local public broadcasting station.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.