Knell’s departure stalls discussions about expanding NPR’s Code Switch

By Mike Janssen

Talks between NPR and CPB about expanding the network’s Code Switch to a local and regional level are on hold as NPR President Gary Knell departs for his new job.

A CPB draft business plan for 2014, released last month, said that the corporation “is considering building on the success of the NPR Code Switch initiative by extending it to local stations as a regional initiative.”

The cross-platform production aims to examine issues of race, culture and ethnicity, and spark discussion on social media platforms and NPR’s website. It launched in May with a $1.5 million, two-year grant from CPB.

Discussions about expanding Code Switch beyond its current operations are now in a holding pattern, however, as NPR looks for a new chief executive. “We’ve been talking to NPR and PBS about a national-down-to-local diversity initiative,” said Michael Levy, executive v.p. of corporate and public affairs at CPB. “Given that Gary is leaving NPR, we’re still committed to the idea . . . but we’re not sure what form it’s going to take. We’re going to continue to talk with NPR and PBS.”

NPR and CPB began discussing the possibility of expanding Code Switch in July, Levy said.

“We’re committed to growing and continuing Code Switch, and are very proud of what the team has accomplished and the audience they’ve reached to date,” wrote NPR spokeswoman Anna Bross in an email.

Questions, comments, tips? mike@mikejanssen.net
This article was first published in Current, Oct. 7, 2013.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article stated that plans to expand NPR’s Code Switch were on hold with Knell’s departure from the network. The article has been revised to reflect that CPB and NPR had not arrived at concrete plans prior to Knell’s departure.

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