NPR decides on hosts, Shuster leaves the network, Rapley gets WGBH McGhee Fellowship, and more . . .

By Dru Sefton

NPR solidified its roster of co-hosts for All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday, in changes announced Jan. 3.

Audie Cornish, who guest-hosted ATC during Michele Norris’s 2012 leave of absence, becomes permanent co-host of the NPR newsmag, alongside Robert Siegel and Melissa Block. Cornish has been a reporter and host for NPR since 2006.

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Cornish

Norris returns to work next month in what NPR calls an “expanded role” — host and special correspondent. She will produce in-depth profiles, interviews and series as well as guest-host on NPR News programs. Norris, whose husband, Broderick Johnson, was a senior adviser to President Obama’s re-election campaign, stepped out of her prominent on-air role during the 2012 elections to avoid potential ethical conflicts in covering the race.

Norris joined ATC as a co-host in 2002. Among the specials she will produce in her new role is a continuation of “The Race Card Project,” initiated after publication of her 2010 book The Grace of Silence: A Memoir. She will also continue “Backseat Book Club,” a regular ATC segment for young readers.

Rachel Martin, who has been filling in for Cornish on Weekend Edition Sunday, will now permanently host that program. Martin previously covered military and intelligence issues as a national security correspondent, and was part of the team that launched NPR’s experimental morning show, The Bryant Park Project.

PBS Hawaii has promoted Robert Pennybacker to head a new unit, Learning Initiatives.

“With this new division,” said Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaii president, “we’re focusing more resources in equipping Hawaii’s students with 21st-century learning and workforce skills.”

Pennybacker, formerly vice president of creative services, is now executive producer, Learning Initiatives, responsible for management and development of Hiki Nō, America’s first statewide student-produced news network. Hiki Nō premiered in February 2011 with students from 54 public, private and charter middle schools and high schools participating in creating online and broadcast content for a weekly half-hour news program. During its first season, it also broke new ground with an entire episode presented in Ni‘ihau, a traditional Hawaiian dialect.

The initiative has since expanded to 80 schools, training hundreds of students in news reporting, editing and presentation skills.

Diplomatic and foreign correspondent Mike Shuster departed NPR Dec. 28 after more than three decades with the network.

Shuster

Shuster

Shuster left “by mutual agreement,” according to NPR spokesperson Anna Christopher, who declined to elaborate.

Shuster joined NPR in 1980 as a freelance reporter covering business and the economy. His first overseas assignment was covering the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and he went on to report on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Middle East. He reported from Iran and also covered diplomatic skirmishes and issues of nuclear disarmament and proliferation.

Shuster was stationed in London in the late ’80s and early ’90s as a senior editor. Before his time in London, Shuster worked as a reporter and bureau chief in New York, and as an editor for Weekend All Things Considered.

He was also on the committee that reviewed NPR’s journalistic and ethics guidelines, resulting in the network’s new ethics handbook.

Shuster reminisced about his long NPR career on Talk of the Nation with host Neal Conan Jan. 3. On the show, regarding his future plans, Shuster said, “Well, I have some ideas for projects. I actually, along the way, wrote a screenplay with a co-author, and I wrote two pilot scripts for TV series, one about the nuclear emergency search team and another about Wall Street in the 1860s, ’70s and ’80s — which is, I think, a fascinating period of time in American history that’s largely overlooked. So I want to keep writing and find also a way to keep reporting and doing work as an independent producer and reporter for public radio. I think there’s a lot of opportunities there.”

Rob Rapley is the 2012 recipient of WGBH’s Peter S. McGhee Fellowship, awarded annually to a mid-career filmmaker who has shown exceptional promise in nonfiction television production.

Rapley

Rapley

His work with the icon series American Experience includes co-producing “Trail of Tears,” the third episode of the We Shall Remain series on Native American history, as well as writing, directing and producing Buffalo Bill, The Greely Expedition and Wyatt Earp. Rapley also has been recognized with honors from the Writers Guild and Western Writers of America. He is currently completing the three-part documentary The Abolitionists.

Prior to American Experience, Rapley was an associate producer with PBS journalist Bill Moyers on Becoming American: The Chinese Experience, and collaborated with Peabody winner Mark Zwonitzer on the 2007 PBS series The Supreme Court.

The fellowship recognizes an individual whose work reflects excellence, intelligence, fairness, passion and scholarship, attributes that define the standards set by Peter McGhee, former head of national programming at Boston’s WGBH. The fellowship program was established upon McGhee’s retirement in 2002; each recipient works for one year with one of WGBH’s national production units.

NPR News chief Margaret Low Smith has been elected to the steering committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Smith

Smith

The organization, founded in 1970, offers free legal support on First Amendment issues to thousands of working journalists and media attorneys each year.

Smith’s “extensive experience as a producer and news executive will be a great help to the Reporters Committee as it takes on new issues and challenges,” said Chairman Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for the National Law Journal.

Smith joined NPR in 1982, rising through senior production and programming roles to vice president for programming. She was tapped to run the news division as senior v.p. of news in January 2011, and now leads some 400 journalists in 17 bureaus worldwide.

The 28 other steering committee members include Alicia Shepard, former NPR ombudsman; Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour; Paul Steiger, ProPublica executive chair; Wolf Blitzer of CNN; and Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.

Programming

Marco Werman has taken over hosting duties for PRI’s The World as of Jan. 1, replacing Lisa Mullins, who has hosted since 1998. Werman, formerly a senior producer for the show, joined The World in 1995 and began stepping in as a substitute host three years ago. Julia Yager, PRI’s v.p. of brand management and marketing strategy, said the show’s producers made the change because Werman “best embodies the direction of the program” as it aims to expand further on digital multimedia platforms. In addition to co-hosting and reporting for The World, Werman has also reported for public TV’s Sound Tracks and Frontline, and he’s an active tweeter.

Reilly

Reilly

KUT’s expansion as a dual-station operator on Jan. 2 prompted staff changes at the Austin pubcasting outlet. Matt Reilly, former assistant music director, is now program director for KUTX, the new station broadcasting music programming on 98.9 FM. Reilly is responsible for the overall sound of the station, branding, station promotions, community engagement and coordinating with KUT on fundraising. He also hosts evening drive-time from 3 to 6 p.m. Reilly joined KUT in 2008 as a music host, talent booker and assistant music director. Previously he worked at WXPN-FM in Philadelphia; Austin Music Network, a nonprofit independent music television channel; and KGSR, a local commercial rock station. Reilly continues to host Folk Alley on WKSU-FM, Kent State University. At KUT 90.5 FM, which now broadcasts news and talk programming full-time, reporter Nathan Bernier has moved up to local host of NPR’s All Things Considered; he succeeds Bob Branson, who became KUT midday host.

KBBI-AM in Homer, Alaska, is welcoming two new staffers. Ariel Van Cleave is the incoming reporter and local host of Morning Edition for KBBI and KDLL-FM, Pickle Hill Public Broadcasting in Kenai. She spent the summer at KDLG in Dillingham, hosting Morning Edition and reporting on the fishing industry. Previously she covered Illinois government in Springfield for the Chicago-based Illinois Radio Network and was a host for WBAA-AM/FM in West Lafayette, Ind. KBBI’s new development director is Rose Grech, who moved to Homer in May from Portland, Ore., where she was human resources program manager for Idealist.org, a nonprofit jobs website.

Koahnic Broadcasting Corporation in Anchorage, Alaska, appointed Sarah Gustavus to head radio production for its syndicated programs National Native News and Native America Calling. Her radio stories have aired nationally on All Things Considered, Latino USA and Weekend America. During a 2011 fellowship with the Institute for Justice and Journalism in Oakland, Calif., she produced an award-winning series on New Mexico’s immigration history and the federal Secure Communities program. Gustavus previously worked at public radio stations KXOT in Tacoma, Wash., and KUNM in Albuquerque.

Academy Award–nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe will host Season 5 of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, a series of independent films showcasing life across the African diaspora that premieres Jan. 22 on the World channel. “This season of AfroPoP helps give voice to those who truly need to be heard,” Sidibe said in a statement. “I’m happy to help bring these stories to the American public and raise awareness of issues of vital concern to women and men in Africa as well as all who care about human rights.” AfroPoP is produced by the National Black Programming Consortium anddistributed by American Public Television.

Modlin

Modlin

Dan Modlin retired Jan. 4 after nearly 23 years as news director of WKU Public Radio at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, to pursue songwriting and recording opportunities. “I’ve been playing in Nashville for about as long as I’ve been news director here,” he told Current. (Visit tinyurl.com/ModlinGuitar to see his performance at that city’s Bluebird Cafe.) He will continue to co-host the weekly bluegrass-oriented Barren River Breakdown. Assistant News Director Kevin Willis has been promoted into the news director position. “He’s a very good journalist, and I am confident the news staff will do an excellent job,” Modlin added.

South Carolina ETV hosted its U.S. INPUT national selection panel Nov. 15–17 in Charleston. Serving on this year’s national selection panel were Rick Sebak, WQED, Pittsburgh; Eren McGinnis, U.S. INPUT shop steward; Moss Bresnahan, KCTS, Seattle; Gayle Loeber, National Educational Telecommunications Association; Sandie Pedlow, Latino Public Broadcasting; Kent Steele, WNET; Donald Thoms, PBS; Richard O’Connell, Independent Television Service; and Linda O’Bryon, Kerry Feduk, Betsy Newman and Amy Shumaker of SCETV. Programs selected in Charleston are forwarded to INPUT’s international selection panel; those chosen in the next round will screen during INPUT 2013, May 6–9 in El Salvador. INPUT, which stands for “international public television,” has convened annually since 1977 to encourage the highest-quality programming in public-service television.

Management

Kathy Merritt is leaving CPB to become v.p. of content strategy and development at Public Radio International. She starts the new job Feb. 4, and will work to identify new talent, production and business partners, and collaborate with producers on content development, audience research and new business opportunities, the Minneapolis-based PRI said in a Jan. 10 announcement. She will report to Melinda Ward, who was recently named chief content officer.  “Kathy’s wide range of experience in public broadcasting,” Ward said, “including leadership positions at stations, industry associations like [Station Resource Group] and Public Radio News Directors Association, and her most recent tenure at CPB, uniquely qualify her for her role in developing PRI’s content strategy.” As CPB’s senior director of radio program investments, Merritt has overseen development and implementation of investment strategies for CPB’s Radio Program Fund, and administered grant projects such as the Local Journalism Centers.

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Anderson

Pubcasting executive Polly Anderson is leaving New Mexico PBS to take over leadership of WUCF-TV in Orlando, Fla., in early February. Anderson joined KNME as g.m. and c.e.o. in 2008; she previously worked for Alabama Public Television and KWBU community radio and television stations in Waco, Texas. She has also been active with national public television organizations, serving as vice chair of the Association of Public Television Stations and chair of the National Educational Telecommunications Association. WUCF is the flagship PBS station for the Orlando market, launched by the University of Central Florida in July 2011 after WMFE-TV withdrew from PBS membership

KJZZ-FM in Tempe, Ariz., has chosen Jon Hoban as its chief content officer, a new position. Hoban moved to the music and news station from Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta, where he was vice president of radio. Hoban has more than 20 years experience in pubcasting, as station manager for Michigan Radio, news director for WHYY in Philadelphia and chief operating officer for Louisville Public Media. In related news, Bill Shedd, programming director at the station, was promoted to associate general manager of programming and operations.

WFYI Public Media, a dual licensee in Indianapolis, has hired its first multiplatform news manager, veteran Indiana broadcaster Rick Dawson. From 1987 to 2011 he was news anchor, reporter and investigative team manager for local CBS affiliate WISH-TV. He also worked as a news anchor and reporter at NBC affiliate WSAZ-TV in Huntington, W.Va., and WANE-TV, CBS in Fort Wayne. He’s won five regional Emmys and honors from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Indiana Broadcasters Association and United Press International.

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Nycklemoe

Erik Nycklemoe, director of network initiatives at American Public Media Group in St. Paul, Minn., takes over Feb. 4 as general manager of KPLU in Tacoma, Wash. Nycklemoe succeeds Paul Stankavich, a pubradio veteran of nearly 50 years who will retire this month. While at APM, Nycklemoe presided over purchases of more than 20 stations and translators in four states, and developed enterprise and company performance metrics and dashboards. Before arriving at APM, Nycklemoe was program director and executive producer at Arizona Public Radio in Flagstaff, news director and program director at New Hampshire Public Radio in Concord. He also held production and editorial positions at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Board of Trustees of KMFA-FM in Austin, Texas, has named Ann Hume Wilson president and general manager of the classical station. Wilson has been serving as interim g.m. since mid-October when her predecessor, Joan Kobayashi, moved on to a new job at Development Exchange Inc. In her expanded role, Wilson will oversee station management and operations, audience development, fundraising, outreach and marketing, and work with the board and staff to develop and implement long-range planning and strategy. Wilson came to KMFA from her post as executive director of the local professional choral ensemble Conspirare.

Veteran public broadcaster Daniel Skinner, vice president of Public Radio in Mid-America, is the new general manager of WKSU-FM at Kent State University in Ohio. Skinner previously served as president and g.m. of Texas Public Radio in San Antonio and department head and g.m. of Purdue University’s WBAA AM/FM in West Lafayette, Ind.

Daniel Miller, executive director and general manager of Iowa Public Television for the past decade, will retire in April. He’s been with the network for 37 years. Throughout his career he has served on various boards and committees for CPB, PBS, WGBH, the BBC and other public television organizations. Before heading IPTV, he served as its executive producer for public affairs programming, and led the programming and production division for 16 years. “Through challenging budget circumstances and a rapidly changing media landscape, Dan has guided this statewide network to increased viewership, unmatched coverage of Iowa, and a national reputation for excellence,” said Robert W. Hall, president of the Iowa Public Broadcasting Board, in a statement. “His steadfast commitment to quality has been a thread throughout his entire career.”

Mike Lampella, named KIXE’s interim general manager in June, has assumed the position permanently. He has worked for the Redding, Calif., station for 33 years in various roles, including board operator, traffic manager, assistant program manager and operations manager. “Historically, he knows how the first nut and bolt was turned,” Board Chair Jack Nehr told the local Record Searchlight.

Digital
Lindsey

Lindsey

Ethan Lindsey is the new senior digital editor for Marketplace. He served as the American Public Media program’s managing editor for the last seven months before moving into this newly created position. He’s also worked as overnight producer for Marketplace Morning Report, and freelanced for the program in Portland and Germany. Previously, he was a correspondent and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Lindsey began his career as an intern at the South China Morning Post, where he covered technology development and software. He assumes his new responsibilities Feb. 11, reporting to new Managing Editor Sarah Gilbert.

Andrew Golis, director of digital media for Frontline, snared a spot on Forbes magazine’s recent list of “30 Under 30” movers and shakers in media. The magazine noted: “He’s helping Frontline, one of PBS’s blue-chip journalism franchises, reimagine itself for a post-broadcast future. Earlier, he helped build a blog network within Yahoo News.”

Please send People items to sefton@current.org

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