By Steve Plunkett
    
WPBT’s Evening With Jim Lehrer this month gives top billing to the longtime PBS news anchor and presidential debate moderator, but Gulf Stream Mayor William Koch Jr. comes in a close second.
The Miami-based station will present Koch with a Lifetime Service Award for his commitment to public broadcasting. Koch has been on Channel 2’s board of directors more than 30 years, he said.
    Koch downplayed the honor. “They had to find some sucker to be up there,” he said.
    The mayor said he was first drawn to what he considers a “pioneer” station because he wanted to work with its station manager and president, George Dooley. Public broadcasting, Koch said, “is something that was needed and still is.”
     WPBT said Lehrer, 77, will discuss his latest book, Tension City, a nonfiction work about the presidential debates, and give attendees a ringside seat to some of the epic battles of the last six presidential elections.
    A ticket to the event, to be held Feb. 22 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, is $250.
A similar event for the station’s Miami-Dade County supporters will be Feb. 23 at the Coral Gables Country Club, where real estate magnate Herbert Tobin, another WPBT board member, also will receive a service award. Ticket information is at www.wpbt2.org/lehrer
    Lehrer joined PBS in 1972, teaming with Robert MacNeil a year later to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. In 1975 they began what became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and in 1983 The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the first 60-minute evening news program on television. When MacNeil retired in 1995, the program was renamed The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. It became PBS NewsHour in 2009.        

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