Founder & Chairman
Bob Chitester was the founder and executive chairman of the board of Free To Choose Network, a 501(c)(3) organization housing Free To Choose Media, an award-winning global entertainment company which produces and distributes thought-provoking public television programs and series; izzit.org, an educational initiative that produces video-centric teaching units for an extensive network of K-College educators; and Free To Choose Press publishing company.
In 1977, Bob Chitester and Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, began collaborating on a film project which became Free To Choose, an award-winning PBS television series and an international best-selling book based on the series, with sales in the millions. More than 30 years later, the series and book are still widely used and have been profoundly influential.
More than 500 projects have been launched through Free To Choose Media under Chitester's orchestration, ranging from documentaries, cable series, and home video programs, many of which can be viewed on the organization's website. He typically juggled multiple media projects in various stages of production, from projects with Bret Stephens with his book, America in Retreat and Jason Riley's new biography on Thomas Sowell, to The Real Adam Smith, a two-hour series that gives particular attention to Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments; Johan Norberg's Sweden: Lessons For America?; and A More or Less Perfect Union with Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in partnership with New York's WNET, as the presenting television station.
Chitester also created the Stossel in the Classroom educational effort, which served as a prototype for izzit.org. Today, izzit.org's nationwide network consists of more than 300,000 educators who are using izzit.org's video teaching units or its daily current events lessons. Chitester worked with Judge Ginsburg to develop much of the footage from A More or Less Perfect Union into civics educational materials for izzit.org.
In the mid-nineties, working with TCI in Denver, CO, Chitester created Issues USA, a nightly half-hour program, whose alumni includes: David Asman, Eric Burns, and Douglas Kennedy, currently regulars on Fox News, Jonathan Karl of ABC News, and Richard Lowry, editor of National Review. Another production, National School Assembly, with David Robinson, MVP center with the San Antonio Spurs, is currently being offered to teachers via izzit.org.
Chitester also founded The Idea Channel, a video library of more than 200 recorded intellectual discussions between the world's leading scholars. The collection currently includes 31 Nobel Prize recipients, including Friedrich von Hayek, James Buchanan, Christian de Duve, Norman Borlaug, and Charles Townes. Chitester orchestrated three major series of discussions focused on the lives and work of Friedrich von Hayek, George Shultz, and Walter Wriston. The Idea Channel library is owned by Free To Choose Network and can be viewed on this site by clicking the media tab.
Chitester's more than 50 years of experience in television management and program development included starting educational television facilities at Buena Vista High School in Saginaw, Michigan, and Edinboro State University in Pennsylvania. In 1966, he became the founding general manager of Erie, Pennsylvania's PBS and NPR stations (WQLN and WQLN-FM), which he headed until 1982.
Chitester earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Michigan. He holds an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Allegheny College and an honorary Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from Northwood University for his "long and impactful contributions to freedom and free enterprise."
Chitester was married for 62 years to Carol Lovell and had four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.