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The Museum of Television & Radio Announces the Death of its President Robert M. Batscha

Monday, July 7, 2003

Robert M. Batscha, president of The Museum of Television & Radio, died Friday, July 4, 2003, in Manhattan at the age of 58. The cause of death was cancer. 

According to Frank A. Bennack, Jr., chairman of the Museum's board of trustees, "The Museum staff and its board of trustees are profoundly saddened by this untimely loss. Bob was an admired leader, colleague, and friend who guided the Museum's growth for more than 20 years. Through his extraordinary vision and deep commitment he significantly expanded the Museum's collection of radio and television programs and advertisements, oversaw the building of the Museum's two facilities in New York and Los Angeles, and secured the Museum's place as a renowned institution respected around the world." 

Dr. Batscha joined the Museum as president in November 1981. Appointed by the Museum's founder William S. Paley, chairman and founder of CBS, Dr. Batscha oversaw the Museum's expansion from a converted office building in Manhattan to a bicoastal institution with facilities in both New York and Beverly Hills. During Dr. Batscha's tenure, the Museum's collection grew from 5,000 programs to over 120,000, with an increased focus on international programming, advertisements, and "lost" programming, preserving the historical and cultural legacy of television and radio for the general public. He furthered the reach of the Museum both academically and within the television and radio industries through public screenings, seminars, festivals, and education programs, including the highly regarded University Satellite Seminar Series and the William S. Paley Television Festival. He also increased outreach to the business and international communities with the creation of The MT&R Media Center, a forum for industry leaders to discuss the current and future convergence of media, and The Museum of Television & Radio's International Council, an annual worldwide meeting of leading international media and communications executives. 

Born in Rochester, New York, and raised in New York City, Dr. Batscha was a magna cum laude graduate of Queens College, and received a Master's in International Affairs in 1969 and a Ph.D. in political science in 1972, both from Columbia University. From 1972 to 1975, Dr. Batscha was a senior consultant at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Before joining The Museum of Television & Radio, Dr. Batscha served for four years as president of the Population Resource Center, Inc. 

Dr. Batscha was a founder and Trustee of the Center for Communication, Inc., a nonprofit organization which brings students and faculty into direct contact with professionals in communications fields, and also served on the board of directors of New Yorkers For Children. Among his several faculty posts, Dr. Batscha had been an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International Affairs and at its School of Journalism, the chairman of Columbia University's Faculty Seminar in Public Communication, and an associate professor of communications at Queens College. He was a member of The Queens College Foundation Board of Trustees. 

He is survived by his son Eric and former wife Francine Sommer.