When NPR hires a new CEO, in the face of Gary Knell’s announced departure in November, he or she will be the seventh CEO in as many years. This includes five permanent (well, if a two year tenure qualifies as “permanent”) and two interim CEOs.
Here’s the (unsolicited) advice I gave to the NPR Board regarding the hiring of a new CEO:
What do we need in a new CEO?
- Someone who understands how organizations and businesses work, and can see the big problems across our system.
- Someone who is fearless about taking steps to fix #1.
- Someone who will trust the news and cultural teams at NPR and let them do their work. (No meddling, no micromanaging.)
- Someone who isn’t in it for personal gain.
- Someone who knows how to raise money. Real money.
- Someone who knows and cares about the importance of NPR to our society.
Who should we hire?
- No one from inside NPR. Too many narrow axes to grind.
- Warren Buffet.
- Warren doesn’t want the job? Someone else from outside, way outside, public media—as long as #6 is why they’re applying.
P.S. Big thanks to all at NPR—administrators, techies, reporters, producers, maintenance staff who have worked hard for years and years to make us who and what we are. Ditto to my colleagues at stations across the country who do the day-to-day often unglamorous work to make public media essential to the fabric of America. The good news: there’s always more and better work to be done.
Okay, here’s the challenge: across the country, which leaders or business people or even less-well-known players would be on your list of likely NPR CEO candidates? I’m sticking with Warren Buffet.