The award recognizes managers in the public media system who have inspired their colleagues and created a lasting impact in their communities.
The Daniel K. Miller Award was awarded to Tom Axtell at the 2021 PBS Annual Meeting.
The award recognizes managers in the public media system whose leadership, vision, courage and commitment to the mission of public media have inspired their colleagues and created a lasting impact in their communities. PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger presented the award virtually today at the organization’s annual gathering of member stations.
The Daniel K. Miller Station Leadership Award is named in honor of Dan Miller, a longtime executive director and general manager of Iowa Public Television who passed away in February 2018. Receiving the inaugural PBS Station Leadership Award in 2016, Miller was recognized for his outstanding contributions to public media as a leader at the local level as well as across the system. Previous honorees include former executive director of Arkansas Educational Television Network Allen Weatherly (2017), Wisconsin Public Media director Malcom Brett (2018) and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Nine Network Public Media Jack Galmiche (2019).
Axtell has worked in public broadcasting for over four decades in Minneapolis/St Paul, Fargo, Spokane, Milwaukee, and Las Vegas.
From 1994-2020, he served as General Manager of Vegas PBS and led the station to focus extensively on K-12 educational services and workforce training to meet the needs of rapid population and business growth in Las Vegas. He expanded local production with weekly series like Outdoor Nevada and Nevada Week, as well as statewide election debates, legislative coverage, and historical documentaries. Axtell sought to engage Vegas PBS as a key communications and information partner for many Southern Nevada nonprofit, education, public safety, veterans, and economic development organizations through shared community engagement events linked to television programming.
Axtell led a $71 million capital campaign to construct the Vegas PBS Educational Technology Campus and acquire high-definition television production and transmission equipment. The building was the first LEED Gold broadcast facility in North America, first broadcast facility to incorporate the FCC’s post 9-11 Media Security and Reliability recommendations, and first Las Vegas educational facility to meet the EPA indoor Clean Air Act standards for children.
He also partnered with PBS and over 70 private companies to showcase innovative uses of digital spectrum during the Consumer Electronics Show, National Association of Broadcasters and other conventions leading to the development of entrepreneurial revenue streams for the industry.
Axtell was elected to serve on the national PBS Board of Directors for 12 years and co-chaired task forces or committees that helped revise PBS approaches to K-12 education services, Board Governance, Funding the Future, and interconnection infrastructure. He is a past president of the Las Vegas Rotary Club and has served on numerous local nonprofit boards. He received the Pillar of Public Broadcasting Award from America’s Public Television’s Stations in 2019 for the station’s work in education, public safety and civic leadership.