Study points to lack of diversity on NPR and member station boards

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A new study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting finds that the boards of NPR and eight large-market public radio stations are made up mostly of men, white people and people with corporate connections.

The study examined the boards of NPR and eight of its most-listened-to member stations: KQED in San Francisco, WNYC in New York City, KPCC in Los Angeles, WHYY in Philadelphia, WBUR in Boston, WABE in Atlanta, WBEZ in Chicago, and WAMU in Washington, D.C. “Board members were coded by occupation, ethnicity and gender,” wrote Aldo Guerrero, a former FAIR intern, in a post on FAIR’s website.

Of the 259 members on the boards, 72 percent are non-Latino whites, 12 percent African-American, 9 percent Asian-American and 5 percent Latino. One board member is of Middle Eastern descent. “Six members’ ethnicities were unidentifiable,” Guerrero said.

Sixty-six percent of board members are male, and 34 percent are female. “One board member’s gender was unidentifiable,” Guerrero said.

“It’s hard to believe in public radio’s stated commitment to diversity when it stacks its governing boards with white men overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of the corporate elite,” he wrote.

The study found that the boards also lack occupational diversity. According to the study, 75 percent of the board members have corporate affiliations, which FAIR does not define.

“Of course, the inevitable consequence of this is to put legal control of what is supposed to be public radio into the hands of a tiny, highly privileged fraction of the population,” Guerrero wrote.

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