BANGOR – Jim Dowe, the former president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank, was named president and CEO of Maine Public Broadcasting Network on Tuesday.
MPBN’s board of trustees voted unanimously to name Dowe, a former trustee and member of the search committee, to head the nonprofit broadcasting group, which provides television and radio programming throughout the state.
Dowe, 57, succeeds MaryAnne Alhadeff, who left last summer.
“I’m excited about it,” he said Tuesday afternoon from his office at Bangor Savings Bank, where he continues to serve as president after stepping down as CEO last summer.
Dowe had planned to retire this June, but he found the opportunity to work in a new, nonprofit field too enticing.
“I’ve been in banking for 30 years, and I’ve loved every minute of it, but I wanted to do something different,” something that stimulated another area of interest, he said.
Trustees formed a search committee in September that included then-trustee Dowe. The group relied on Ron Bornstein & Associates, a consultant based in Tucson, Ariz., to help them seek the new president and CEO.
“[Bornstein] did cast a very wide net both in Maine and nationally,” trustee John DiMatteo, chairman of the search committee, told his fellow trustees at Tuesday’s meeting.
At one point, Bornstein contacted Dowe and asked if he were interested in seeking the post, DiMatteo said.
DiMatteo said that during the search, “Jim’s name came up several times as a candidate.”
Dowe asked his wife, Susan, about the job, and she enthusiastically endorsed his seeking it, he remembered.
Dowe resigned from the search committee in November and resigned from the board a short time later, DiMatteo said. He had served as a trustee since 1998.
Of the 37 applicants, six were recommended by Bornstein. The board agreed to consider five, and one of those withdrew, leaving four finalists, including Dowe.
Bornstein developed criteria for the final selection that included personal characteristics, executive skills and a fit with public broadcasting.
“We felt we needed someone of strong character and integrity” who would lead with passion, DiMatteo said, and Dowe scored high on those traits.
The committee also concluded that Dowe would shine as MBPN’s public face, representing the corporation to donors and state legislators.
Dowe was especially well-regarded as “someone who recognizes the future is going to be different from the past,” DiMatteo said.
“We started out thinking we needed someone in public broadcasting,” he said Tuesday after the meeting, but instead concluded leadership skills were the top requirement.
“I think he’ll be a superb leader. He’s deeply involved in Maine, very active in public affairs,” DiMatteo said.
Dowe agreed with DiMatteo’s view that the marketplace and technology are contributing to a fast-changing landscape for public broadcasting, and he is not afraid of embracing those changes.
“I do sort of like it,” he said.
Dowe, who will start on April 1, wants to consider what MPBN does well before embarking on any plan to improve it.
“I don’t have an exact destination. I love Maine Public Broadcasting,” he said, praising its board, staff, hundreds of volunteers, and its vital statewide mission.
“The organization wants to change,” Dowe said, in the sense that “it wants to be the best.”
Of the many volunteers, he said he wanted to tell them “thank you – and stand by for more assignments.”
Dowe is a 1972 graduate of the University of Maine. He has worked at Peoples Bank, Androscoggin Bank and Bath Savings Institution. He has extensive experience with nonprofit organizations, serving as a board member for such groups as United Way of Eastern Maine, University of Maine, Maine Community Foundation, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, The Nature Conservancy and the Creative Economy Council.
The job pays an annual salary of about $150,000, DiMatteo said.
MPBN has an annual budget of more than $12 million and a staff of about 130. In recent months, MPBN has stressed its mission as a network offering Internet and educational programming in addition to the TV and radio stations.
MPBN radio’s evening news program, “Maine Things Considered,” is produced in its Portland studios. Administrative offices are in Lewiston, and technical services and radio music operations are based in the Bangor office.
Dowe and his wife may move closer to MPBN’s offices in Lewiston, he said.