We are delighted to announce that Baird & Warner president and CEO Steve Baird is being named the recipient of the WBEZ Chicago 2020 Amplifier Award for his exceptional service and leadership. The award will be presented virtually at the online 2020 Chicago Public Media Annual Benefit on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Baird, who has served as a board member of Chicago Public Media, which oversees WBEZ, for more than a decade, has always championed the work of independent public media. “I just love the place, and I think it does great work,” Baird said recently. “I’m a big believer in the Fourth Estate (media) and I think that journalism is really important — in fact, I feel it’s more important today than it’s ever been.”
Before the pandemic, Baird enjoyed periodically meeting WBEZ journalists and producers to talk about the stories they were working on. “Quite frankly, I’m just in awe of the entire WBEZ team, seeing what they do on a regular basis, how hard they work and what they create.”
For Baird, who sits on several nonprofit boards, the seat and board member title he holds, including the Amplifier Award, is not as important to him as the active role he can take to further an organization’s mission and reach. It was the same way for his father, John Baird, who also sat on a number of boards and was very civic-minded, especially when it came to urban renewal. According to Baird, his father was never focused on profits in turning around a neighborhood — his motivation was to improve it, because it was the right thing to do. Being supportive of the community is simply part of the Baird way, especially since those same communities have been so supportive of Baird & Warner over the past 165 years.
“I’m not that interested in sitting on a board of a very successful organization. I’d rather go to a place and be directly involved, where we can create meaningful change or make something happen,” he said. Most recently, Baird and the Chicago Public Media board led a successful search for new leadership at WBEZ, a search that resonated with listeners given WBEZ’s current public media membership structure has enabled it to emerge stronger in these challenging economic times.
But Baird isn’t just a board member of WBEZ — he’s an avid public radio fan, too. Whenever he has a chance, Baird can be found listening to his favorite shows, such as “This American Life,” “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and “On Being.” He also has a special affinity to “The Moth” storytelling show, where amateur storytellers have to tell an original story in five minutes.
The WBEZ virtual fundraising event at which Baird will accept the award is called Listening Unites Us and is free of charge to attend. Details to join can be found here.