From the Founder – From Start to Finish by Bob Chitester


Starting in 1964 I led the creation of a public TV station in Erie, PA. From 1967 to 1983 I was general manager, then president/CEO of this PBS and NPR member. It was a dream job for someone with a BA and MA in Radio and Television. I was not politically focused or active but by 1974 I realized my “artistic” friends loved freedom to do as they wished, but were jealous and bitter when others used their freedom to start businesses and accumulate wealth. I thought they were hypocritical.

I started having weekly breakfasts with an Erie business leader (Chet Giermak) who had a unique management style, akin to the conscious capitalism that John Mackey is now advancing. When PBS offered the John Kenneth Galbraith’s TV series, I was determined to create a response. Luckily, W. Allen Wallis had become a friend and in the fall of 1976 introduced me to Milton and Rose Friedman. “Be sure to persuade Rose” was his sound advice, and Free To Choose was the result.

For the next 30 years, I met with the Friedmans a half dozen or so times a year, as well as interacted with them at numerous public events.  During that time, I launched “The Idea Channel,” with John Andrews created “Damn Right” and in 1999 convinced ABC News to let me distribute John Stossel’s TV specials to high schools. Stossel in the Classroom led to, which according to a recent independent marketing research study is reaching as many as 11.3 million students in grades 4-12 each year. Our primary goal is to further increase the reach and impact of We currently offer teachers nearly 60 video-based teaching units, plus a daily current events service. New offerings in 2017-18 will include America & Mr. Smith, They’ve Got Tech: Next Gen Farmers, Who Owns the Sea?, Pax Americana, and No More Skinny Sheep.

We also continue production of programs for public TV. In March 2018, we’ll release The Price of Peace, an examination of appeasement vs. deterrence. Sweden: Lessons for America? will dispel many myths about so-called Swedish socialism, will be offered to public TV in August 2018. Both are hosted by Johan Norberg. In development is a three-part series on the Constitution, to be hosted by Judge Douglas Ginsburg and a TV biography of Thomas Sowell to be hosted by Jason Riley.

Going forward Free To Choose Network will be guided by our new President and CEO, Robert Chatfield. Thank you for your encouragement, trust and support, which I hope will continue and increase as our efforts expand.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *