Bruce L. Christensen
He began his broadcasting career as a reporter for KSL News in 1965, reporting daily on the Salt Lake City and County government. He also worked on a number of documentaries, including programs on Utah coal mine safety, capital punishment in Utah ,and Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television. While working as a full-time reporter and producer, he also attended the University of Utah full-time where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1968.
Christensen continued his education the following year on an Allen Heath Fellowship, graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in June 1969 with his Masters of Science in Journalism. While attending Medill he produced weekend sports news programs for WGN News- famed Chicago Cubs all-star Ernie Banks.
He returned to KSL News after graduation where he became the State House Reporter. He traveled with Governor Calvin Rampton. His political reporting allowed him to interview Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and a host of other famous visitors to Utah. As a KSL reporter he also covered a number of major stories in the state, including the planned development of Utah’s oil shale reserves, the death of thousands of sheep by poison gas near Dugway Proving Ground, the crash of a 727 aircraft a the Salt Lake International Airport that killed 43 of the 91 passengers on board, and serial taxi cab murderers Walter Kelbach and Myron Lance.
Christensen became Director of BYU Broadcasting and General Manager of Brigham Young University’s broadcast stations KBYU TV and KBYU FM in the summer of 1972. During his seven years of leadership, the station won several regional EMMY awards for outstanding documentaries and children’s programs. In 1979 Christensen moved to the University of Utah to direct its media activities, including its broadcast television and radio stations, its University Press, and its instructional cable operations. During his time at the U of U, the stations earned a number of programming, fundraising and marketing awards. This resulted in his election to the Public Broadcasting Service’s Board of Directors.
PBS’s Board elected Christensen its third President and CEO in April 1984. He ran PBS for the next nine years during the time of some of its greatest programming achievements. Dozens of new television programs and series, including The Civil War, Eyes on the Prize, The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and more than a half dozen new children’s programs were part of the creative blossoming during his administration.
Technological and financial innovation also defined Christensen’s success at PBS. An aging satellite system was entirely replaced with time-zone footprints from Puerto Rico to the Hawaiian Islands, requiring a 30-hour operational clock for satellite program distribution. PBS Enterprises, a for-profit subsidiary, was formed, returning millions of dollars of commercial business profits back to the mother company. International programming and technical exchanges formed an important link to world broadcasters interested in collaborating with PBS across a wide range of activities.
Brigham Young University President Rex Lee invited Christensen to become Dean of BYU’s College of Fine Arts and Communications in May 1993. He moved with his family to Orem and found himself collaborating with world-class scholars and professors to provide an education in the arts and communications to some of the nation’s brightest students. The university was just completing its Museum of Art and finding its long-term director was a top priority. BYU television, a world-wide satellite service, began under Christensen’s direction with help from BYU Division of Continuing Education and the LDS Church Audio Visual Department. Key changes were also made to other units in the College. The Department of Music became the School of Music; a Performing Arts Division was created; major changes in the Department of Communications consolidated instruction across media; the Department of Art merged with the Graphic Art Department into one department. Christensen’s time at BYU as dean was characterized by change.
During his time as dean, Christensen was asked to serve on the Bonneville Board of Directors, and in May of 2000 he joined Bonneville on a full-time basis. His work on the Internet created ksl.com’s on-line classified strategy, which has made it the largest broadcast Internet site in North America. His New Media activities led to his assignment as President of KSL radio and television and eventually all Bonneville broadcast properties in Salt Lake City. In 2007 he received one of “Bonneville’s Best” Outstanding Employee Awards. This award recognized his creative organizational skills and his financial ingenuity in making Bonneville’s Salt Lake broadcast properties among the company’s most financially successful. Christensen retired from his Bonneville/KSL responsibilities in May of 2009.
One month later, Dr. Matthew Holland, the new president of Utah Valley University asked Christensen to join the university staff as dean of UVU’s School of the Arts for a year while a search was conducted for a permanent dean. He accepted and completed his service with the installation of a permanent dean on July 1, 2010. His time at UVU allowed him to oversee the opening of a new UVU theater and dance studios for student instruction and performances. He was also able to celebrate the UVU’s Ballroom Dance Team’s victory as Dancing with the Stars' best college dance team.
Christensen’s teaching experience includes appointments as professor in the BYU Department of Communications and adjunct professor in the U of U Department of Communication. He’s lectured at major US and international universities. He has served on dozens of for-profit and not-for-profit corporations and arts organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Overseers for BYU’s Wheatley Institution.
He and his wife Barbara reside in Orem, Utah.
- Media Myths and Miracles, BYU Devotional Address, 8 November 1994.