Founder & Chairman
Bob Chitester is the founder, and executive chairman of the board of Free To Choose Network, a 501(c)(3) public foundation 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 a large network of K-College educators; and Free To Choose Press publishing company.
In 1977, Chitester and economist Milton Friedman, and his wife, Rose, undertook a film project which became Free To Choose, an award-winning PBS TV 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 in wide use 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 FreeToChooseNetwork.org. He is juggling a number of media projects in various stages of production, including productions based on Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat; The Real Adam Smith, a two-hour series that gives particular attention to Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments; Work & Happiness: The Human Cost of Welfare; Trailblazers: New Zealand; Is America in Retreat?, a program on the role of the military in a free society; A More or Less Perfect Union with Justice Douglas Ginsburg; and Andrew Coulson’s series, School, Inc., 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 one or more of izzit.org’s video teaching units or its daily current events service. Most recently, Chitester released the second installment of the Pups of Liberty series, created by animators from DreamWorks, Disney, and Warner Bros.
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 the Fox Cable News Channel, 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 now owned by Free To Choose Network and can be viewed on FreeToChooseNetwork.org.
As a partner with Janet Martel and David Friedman, Chitester manages Free To Choose Enterprise, which sells and licenses the use of the Free To Choose series, which can also be viewed on FreeToChooseNetwork.org.
Chitester has more than 50 years of experience in television management and program development. He started 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 the Erie, Pennsylvania 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 and received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Allegheny College. He and his wife, Carol Lovell, have four children, eight grandchildren, and a grandchild.