Los Angeles pubcaster KCETLink has named former Disney exec Michael Riley as its new CEO.

Riley is a surprise choice for the job. The Canadian exec left ABC Family after a three-year tenure in 2013, saying he wanted to return to the U.K., where he had previously lived.

He replaces Al Jerome, who was the longtime head of KCETLink and the driver of the station’s decision to end its affiliation with PBS in 2010.

“This is an exciting time for KCETLink, and I’m eager to drive the organization’s mission and continue to provide thought-provoking, quality content to our viewers across all media. I also look forward to deepening our engagement with the communities, partners and stakeholders that we serve here in Southern California, and across the country,” Riley said.

At KCETLink, Riley faces challenges in the need for increased fundraising for the pubcaster and heightened visibility for its programming. The station struck a programming partnership with world news-focused Link TV in 2012.

Riley joined Disney in 2008 as general manager of the Radio Disney service. Before that he worked in the U.K. for Turner Broadcasting, in operations and business development.

“Michael brings a strong track record in brand-defining content creation, strategic partnerships, acquisitions and digital leadership — both domestically and across international markets — which will allow him to build on the solid foundation and momentum created by the KCETLink team under Al Jerome’s leadership,” said KCETLink chairman Dick Cook, another Disney alum.