Lew Zager, Longtime PBS Broadcast Engineer, Dies

Lew Zager played an integral role in the success of PBS's annual TechCon conference.

Lewis Zager, a longtime public television employee who played important roles in helping stations prepare for the digital conversion and ensuring the PBS Technology Conference’s success, died Aug. 16 of complications from leukemia.

Lew’s career began in 1975, when he joined Nebraska Public Television as a camera operator. In 1981, he moved to WETA as a television engineer, becoming Director of Production for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” “Washington Week” and other local and national PBS productions. In 1998, he became WETA’s Vice President of Technology.

In 2002, Lew became Senior Engineer in PBS’s Digital Strategic Services Group. In this position, and later as a director of the DSSG, he played a critical role in facilitating public television’s conversion to digital broadcasting. He continued to work as a consultant to the digital conversion program until his death, ensuring stations throughout the system had the resources to stay on the air.

Lew was also integral to the success of the PBS Technology Conference, helping establish the annual meeting as a destination for public television technical staffers across the United States.

Lew’s funeral service was held Aug. 19 at B’nai Shalom in Olney, Md. He is survived by his wife Laurie; daughter Bethany; brothers Albert, Jack and Benjamin; sister Linda; and his parents, Raymond and Madalyn.

“Lew was well known for bridging business and strategic goals with the practical applications of engineering and leaves behind many friends at PBS and throughout the system,” the network said in a statement. “He will be missed dearly by the many people he helped and touched during his career.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to his team at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, P.O. Box 27106, New York, N.Y. 10087. Please be sure to state that the gift is in memory of Lewis Zager to ensure proper acknowledgment.