People in Public Media

NPR promotes Wilson to chief content officer, Arnold departs PRI, and more…

NPR President Gary Knell has restructured the news organization’s top ranks, elevating digital chief Kinsey Wilson to executive v.p. and chief content officer and appointing Margaret Low Smith senior v.p. of news, a job she took on an interim basis last year.

When Wilson joined NPR as senior v.p. and general manager of digital media in 2008, the position was parallel to the senior news exec post then held by Ellen Weiss. Knell’s restructuring elevates Wilson in NPR’s organization chart to supervise all of NPR’s content areas — news, programming and digital media.

“In Kinsey and Margaret, we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR — and how we continue to innovate and evolve,” Knell said in a news release.

The new structure allows for greater coordination of NPR’s news, digital and programming strategies, and a “more seamless integration” of its news operations, according to the release.

In an interview with NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, Knell described his objective to create “a unified and strategic approach” to providing NPR content across radio, online and mobile platforms, according to Mark Memmott, blogger/reporter for NPR’s The Two Way. “Radio is not going away, radio is going everywhere,” Knell reportedly said.

Additional changes in NPR’s executive ranks to take effect immediately:

  • Eric Nuzum, acting v.p. of programming, takes the job permanently, succeeding Smith as she stays at the helm of the news division;
  • Keith Woods, v.p. of diversity in news and operations, expands his collaborative work with NPR stations to bring greater diversity to public radio’s audiences. He now reports directly to Knell.
  • Joyce MacDonald, v.p. for membership and audience partnership, also directly reports to Knell. Previously, MacDonald’s boss had been Debra Delman, senior v.p. of strategic operations and finance.

Knell adopted the new reporting structure for Woods and MacDonald to ensure that he has “a direct line into NPR’s work with its community of stations.”

Arnold.

Michael Arnold is leaving Public Radio International to direct content at Wisconsin Public Radio.

Arnold, who has overseen PRI’s portfolio of content since 2005, joins WPR as associate director, director of content and chief operating officer. He was appointed after a national search to fill a vacancy created when Mike Crane was promoted to WPR director.

Arnold’s “diverse experience in radio programming and production makes him an ideal curator for the news, music, talk and entertainment content we offer to more than 460,000 Wisconsin listeners each week,” Crane said.  As director of content, Arnold will work with the news, talk and music directors to manage day-to-day broadcast operations, enhance current shows and develop new broadcast programming.

“Wisconsin Public Radio produces a lot of stuff — about nine hours of local content a day — that’s what attracted me to this job,” Arnold said. “It’s about twice the size of any content department I have overseen.”

At PRI, Arnold worked with producers from the BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and WNYC in New York, among others. WPR also distributes its national shows — Whad’Ya Know?, To the Best of Our Knowledge and Zorba Paster on Your Health — through PRI.

Prior to joining PRI, Arnold programmed public radio stations in Indiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire and New Orleans, and he served as chair of the Public Radio Program Directors board.

His last day at PRI is March 7 and he signs on at WPR in April.

Julie Anderson.

Julie Anderson, a doc producer with an Oscar nomination this year, is the new e.p., documentaries and development, at WNET in New York City.

She is overseeing production of limited series and stand-alone docs, as well participating in fundraising, post-production, and delivery and distribution arrangements. Anderson most recently worked for HBO Documentary Films, where she was a producer and a programming exec. She has also produced for CNN, ESPN and BET. She has received numerous awards as a producer, including four Emmys, two Peabodys, as well as an Academy Award nomination this year for her documentary short, God Is the Bigger Elvis.

Stephanie Aaronson, longtime communications officer at PBS, is now v.p. of American Graduate education, content and services at CPB.

CPB President Pat Harrison said during a Feb. 7 telephonic board meeting that Aaronson will lead the cross-divisional implementation at CPB, enroll additional public media organizations and producers, and engage new partners. The American Graduate program, which CPB launched last spring at a cost of  $4.4 million, aims to reduce high school dropout rates nationwide. Aaronson began work in January.

Programming/content

Steven Schupak has been promoted from senior vice president to chief content officer at Maryland Public Television. Schupak joined MPT in 2003 and currently oversees development, production, national sponsorship sales, licensing and national distribution of MPT programs. During his tenure, the station has won 26 Emmy Awards and numerous other honors. Prior to joining MPT, he served as vice president at Henninger Media Services, a production and post-production company in Arlington, Va. Schupak also is an adjunct faculty member of American University’s School of Communication, and a frequent guest speaker at universities and industry group events.

NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris is suffering from unilateral vocal fold paralysis, probably due to a virus, he revealed in a Feb. 10 post on Shots, NPR’s health blog. “It turns out this disorder is common enough that there’s a line of medical products to address it,” he writes. His specialist at Johns Hopkins used an injection of water, gelatin and sodium carboxymethylcellulose — “yes, cellulose as in the indigestible fiber that tree trunks and paper are made of” — to help align Harris’s paralyzed vocal cord with his functioning one. “Over the next six to 10 weeks, the carboxymethylcellulose will degrade in my gullet,” Harris writes. “That will buy time for the nerve to heal, which it often does. And in the meantime, I’m back on the air.”

Karl Scroggin, classical music host at WUIS at University of Illinois Springfield, is retiring after a 30-year career that began there by accident. “I was going to school and teaching part time and a friend of mine suggested I get a student job on campus,” he says on the station website. “The radio station had an opening, and I was hired to do odd jobs — cleaning the shop, working in the front office.” But if anyone was born to be a classical music host, it was Scroggin: His love of music started when he was just a child, singing Gregorian chants in church; he speaks several European languages; and he plays the guitar, lute, viola da gamba, mandolin and recorder. In 2004 he founded the station’s popular Young Musicians Concert Competition, to foster local musical talent and encourage youngsters to perform classical music. In 2006 the Illinois Humanities Council presented him with the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. The station is hosting a retirement event March 29 at its studio on campus.

Al Gibes.

In Sacramento, Calif., Murrow Award–winning reporter Ben Adler is the new Capitol Bureau chief for Capital Public Radio, overseeing the station’s coverage of California politics and government. The bureau’s reports are distributed to NPR member stations statewide through the California Capitol Network. He replaces Marianne Russ, who held the post for six years and is taking a part-time position at the station to spend more time with her new son. Also at Capital Public Radio, Al Gibes has taken the new role of director of digital content. He joined the station in January, previously working as director of visuals at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he also wrote about emerging technologies as “The Online Guy.”

Journalist and anchor Brent Boynton has been named news director for KNPB-TV in Reno. He replaces Michael Hagerty, now news director at KUNR-FM, Reno’s public radio station. Boynton has 15 years of experience as an anchor for the city’s CBS-TV station KTVN and ABC affiliate KOLO. His background also includes reporting, consulting and serving as communications director in the governor’s office.

Osei Chandler and Charlie G. Sanders are new hosts on JazzWorks, the 24-hour online music service from Essential Public Media in Pittsburgh. Chandler is known as “Mr. Reggae” for his efforts to bring that musical genre to listeners for more than 30 years, with his deep, distinctive baritone voice and intricate knowledge of reggae and jazz; he’ll broadcast all day on Saturdays. Sanders is a longtime Pittsburgh-based jazz musician who was trained as a classical singer but also has acted in numerous commercials and TV movies. His shows air Mondays through Thursdays.

Meghan Sheridan has been promoted to director of children’s entertainment at The Jim Henson Co. Sheridan joined the department in 2010, working on PBS Kids shows Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train. Her current production projects include Pajanimals on Sprout, and Wilson & Ditch: Digging America for PBSKidsGo.org.

Sarah Lutman, former s.v.p. of content and media at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media, is departing her job as president of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to start an independent consulting practice, effective March 1. Lutman said in statement that she has wanted to establish a consulting business for years. “With my adult children both due to complete postgraduate education this year,” she said, “and having been able to help the SPCO chart a clear strategic direction and plan, the timing seemed right for me to make this move.” Lutman had been with the orchestra since 2008. She was with APM from 1999 to 2008, in positions including s.v.p. cultural programming, v.p. content and senior director for content initiatives.

Tim Regan-Porter.

Tim Regan-Porter, president of the Decatur, Ga.–based Paste Media Group, was appointed  director of Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, a startup news partnership between Georgia Public Broadcasting and the local Telegraph newspaper. He begins work in Macon, Ga., on March 1. The Knight Foundation in December awarded $4.6 million to the collaborative, which “advances journalistic excellence in the digital age and contributes to a more informed, engaged central Georgia community.” Regan-Porter cofounded Paste magazine, which covers popular music, indie film and books, in 2002. When the mag suspended print publication and went Web-only in 2010, Regan-Porter designed mPlayer, a proprietary digital media platform where readers “play” the magazine, integrating text, audio and video. Prior to Paste, he worked in the tech industry as lead architect for IBM’s e-Business Group and director of development for Enterpulse, a software firm whose clients included AT&T, the City of Chicago, Coca-Cola, CNN, T-Mobile and Sprint.

Celeste Wesson, former senior editor and Washington editor of Marketplace, has been named senior editor for the program’s new wealth and poverty desk funded by the Ford Foundation. Wesson is a former national editor for NPR News, producer of Weekend All Things Considered and reporter in NPR’s Los Angeles bureau. The Chattanooga-born journalist later joined a Marketplace spinoff, The Savvy Traveler, as senior editor, and hosted a KCRW-FM series about L.A. communities called United States of Los Angeles.

Technology

Sesame Workshop has promoted Noah Broadwater to v.p. and chief technology officer. Broadwater originally joined the Workshop in 2003 as a consultant, and has served as v.p., information systems, since 2005. In his new role, he will determine the strategic technology direction for the company, including infrastructure, business and digital systems, and client services. Before joining the Workshop, Broadwater served as a consultant for the New York Times, J.P. Morgan Chase, Canon USA and Sony.

Marketing/publicity

Mame Conroy has joined WGBH in Boston as account manager on the local corporate sponsorship team, working with businesses in the Greater Boston area and throughout New England to create sponsorship opportunities across all the station’s platforms. Most recently, Conroy developed and executed multiplatform media programs at Entercom Radio, a broadcasting firm with 100 stations in 23 markets nationwide, and was v.p. of sales at Phoenix Media Group in Livonia, Mich., a social media and Web marketing firm.

Devin Johnson has been promoted to vice president of publicity for BBC America and its Consumer Products unit. Johnson joined the channel as a publicist in 2007 and most recently served as director of publicity, BBC America and Global Brands. He will oversee the publicity team and all campaigns and press activity relating to BBC America and its programming. Before joining BBC America, Johnson was on the Today show production team at NBC. He began his career as an NBC page in New York City.

NPT President Beth Curley and the station's nonprofit neighbors in costume

Beth Curley, president of Nashville Public Television, starred as queen for a day in a photo shoot for arts groups that share the station’s building.

The photo, dreamed up by NPT media relations director Joe Pagetta and Denice Hicks and Nicole Sibilsk of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, was submitted with a nomination for a local best workplace environment award. The annual prize, presented by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville, recognizes “a business that integrates arts and creativity into the business culture to build morale and foster employee creativity and innovation.”

The council’s nomination lauded NPT for transforming its building into the NPT Arts Center — “a modern day, nonprofit arts commune that houses NPT, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, TN Rep and Nashville Film Festival. The creative collaboration greatly enhances each organization, which benefits our entire community.” Also maintaining offices in the building are Book ’em, a nonprofit children’s literacy organization, and the Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

NPT didn’t win the award, but staging the photo shoot on its pledge set was fun for everyone involved, Pagetta told Current. “There is someone from each of the organizations represented, holding something associated with what they do.” And, yes, that’s Curley in the photo, reigning as queen over the creative chaos.

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