After 18 years in public broadcasting, Al Jerome will step down as president-CEO of Los Angeles’ KCETLink later this year.

Jerome said Tuesday he would step down within six months after helping the KCETLink board find a successor.

Jerome had a long career in broadcasting, working for the NBC O&O group and others, before joining KCET-TV in 1996. He led the station’s split with the PBS network in 2011 in a dispute over the level of KCET’s financial contributions to the national service.

KCET last year merged with San Francisco-based Link Media. KCET has seen its viewership drop significantly since the split with PBS, leading some to question whether the move was right for L.A.’s flagship TV pubcaster.

“As we begin preparations for KCET’s 50th anniversary, and continue to chart a new course for the organization, I feel that this is the appropriate time to bring in a new CEO,” Jermoe said. “I would hope that my successor builds upon our recent accomplishments and works with the talented senior team we have in place to create a new and different roadmap for success in 21st century public media.”

KCETLink board chairman Dick Cook praised Jerome’s leadership, especially during the past three years.

“Al Jerome leaves an exceptional legacy of leadership in commercial and public media,” Cook said. “He has steadily guided KCETLink through a period of significant change with bold decision-making and risk-taking.”