ROOTS: For seven days, Pisaneschi was a New Yorker. Then his family moved their newborn to Chicago to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright house and enjoy the epithetic breeze. Throughout his childhood, Pisaneschi traveled back and forth from the U.S. to the small, elegant hotel his grandmother owned and operated in Sienna, Italy. His adult life was split between attending the University of San Francisco and Lone Mountain College for a fine arts degree in film and photography and working in graphic design, promotional and educational filmmaking, radio programming and public relations in San Francisco and New York. He moved to Idaho "on a lark" in 1979 and worked for College of Idaho (now Albertson College) in public relations before hearing of a position with Idaho Public Television.
CLAIM TO FAME: Since 1985, Pisaneschi has worked for IPTV, starting out in PR and moving up to director of programming in 1987. Aside from being the "unofficial second in command," Pisaneschi is responsible for finding excellent television and making sure it fits into a complex daily schedule based on viewer demographics, desires and the vision of public television to help people become "educated, informed, enlightened and exposed to interesting people, places and ideas."
"Public television is not designed to satisfy stockholders; it's trying to meet the needs of the community and make the world a better place, provide information and engage people," Pisaneschi said. "Our reality television doesn't tend to feature people eating snakes." Even so, IPTV's viewership is regularly ranked No. 1 among public TV entities, and they are among the best supported per capita in the country, despite only fund-raising 18 days a year on-air (compared to over 100 at other stations).
RON'S LINEUP: As a kid, Pisaneschi watched a lot of public television and listened to National Public Radio, but he does have guilty pleasures, including The West Wing, 24 and late night talk with both Leno and Letterman.
IN ANOTHER LIFE: Pisaneschi would continue to work for a non-profit, preferably a foundation "on the giving-out-money side of things, as opposed to the seeking-money side."
INDUSTRY HERO: "I always had the utmost regard for Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers). He was a genuinely terrific man who got what we were trying to do with public television. There was no facade-he was as good as he came across on TV. People make fun with their Eddie Murphy kind of parodies, but he cared about children in a way that had nothing to do with the media. Having children of my own, I appreciate that even more."
FUN FACTS: Pisaneschi has a 16-year-old daughter who volunteers at IPTV; he enjoys tiramisu, gardening and reading; he is color-blind and a photographer.
PARTING SHOT: "My own personal success and the success of the station are really due to the terrific people that I have the privilege of working with-people who are extremely talented and committed to the extraordinary service that public television provides day in and day out."