Wanted: new CEO for NPR

nprnew4aWhen 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?

  1. Someone who understands how organizations and businesses work, and can see the big problems across our system.
  2. Someone who is fearless about taking steps to fix #1.
  3. Someone who will trust the news and cultural teams at NPR and let them do their work. (No meddling, no micromanaging.)
  4. Someone who isn’t in it for personal gain.
  5. Someone who knows how to raise money. Real money.
  6. Someone who knows and cares about the importance of NPR to our society.

Who should we hire?

  1. No one from inside NPR. Too many narrow axes to grind.
  2. Warren Buffet.
  3. Warren doesn’t want the job? Someone else from outside, way outside, public media—as long as #6 is why they’re applying.

nprstudioP.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.


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6 Comments on “Wanted: new CEO for NPR”

  1. Hank says:

    OK, you asked…

    1. Ellen Rocco

    2. Robert Gates (former Secretary of Defence)

  2. Lucy Martin says:

    Whoa! Don’t be so quick to give Ellen away, she’s needed here!

    Better to make Warren do it than lose Ellen.

    He’s probably not interested either but I’d go for someone like former Big Island civil defense director and two-term mayor Harry Kim.

    Innovative, effective and the epitome of non-nonsense administration, Kim got elected on campaign donations that could not exceed $10. (Hmm, maybe that’s fails Ellen’s requirement #5, someone who knows how to raise real money.)

    Oh well! Keep those names coming!

  3. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I am not so sure about #3. NPR news seems too inside the Beltway/NYC/LA. I would like to see NPR news find sources outside big media market think-tanks, and worry less about what the NY Times thinks the big stories of the day are.

    #7 Don’t let the new CEO visit NCPR because it seems like you guys scared the last guy away, even with Radio Bob on vacation.

  4. Ellen Rocco says:

    Jackie Sauter, our program director here, suggests Michael Bloomberg…he’s going to be looking for work soon.

  5. Mike Ludovici says:

    How about Hillary?

  6. Al Smith says:

    Go for it Ellen. What NCPR has become in a poorer and quite conservative part of NY could be a model for the national NPR. I disagree about no one from inside: People inside, the right one anyway, can get started right away and not, as my old boss and mentor once said, need six months to find the bathrooms. And making it know that insiders will not be considered clearly gives talented people a disincentive to stay.

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