NPR hires WNYC’s Thomas Hjelm as chief digital officer

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NPR announced Thursday that Thomas Hjelm will take over as chief digital officer, a new role at the network, beginning in late April.

Hjelm (Photo: New York Public Radio)

Hjelm (Photo: New York Public Radio)

Hjelm comes from New York Public Radio, where he serve as executive vice president and chief digital officer.

In the new role, “Hjelm will be responsible for guiding NPR’s digital strategy in ways that keep ahead of the changing ways audiences are consuming news and cultural content,” according to a press release.

According to NPR CEO Jarl Mohn, to whom Hjelm will report, the move was made in part to “solidify our partnership with our Member stations.”

“I wanted someone who had proven digital leadership and direct public radio station experience; Tom exemplifies both,” Mohn said in the release. “He is ideally suited to help us pursue an integrated strategy that reaches and engages audiences in new ways across a fast-changing landscape of digital platforms.”

Mohn elaborated on his decision to create the new position in a memo to NPR staffers:

This position . . . will be charged with deepening and expanding NPR’s digital strategy, which is fundamentally an audience strategy. We have tremendously talented teams in our digital division, and I want their work present at the highest level of the organization when we are making strategic decisions about how we will grow audiences, develop new content, and realize new revenue opportunities. To ensure that we can further strengthen digital collaborations with Member stations, I want someone in this position who not only has demonstrated digital success on a national scale, but also has direct station experience.

According to the memo, Zach Brand, currently NPR’s v.p. of digital media, was asked to take on a new position of v.p. for strategy. He declined and will leave NPR at the end of April.

UPDATE: New York Public Radio announced Friday that Nathaniel Landau will fill Hjelm’s role as senior vice president and chief digital officer.

Landau will lead NYPR’s digital strategy and will be involved in “development and enhancement of digital products and innovative digital platforms for the future,” according to a press release.

He comes from Univision, where he was v.p. of product. Prior to that, he co-founded Food Republic, a men’s lifestyle company that was acquired in 2013 by the production company Zero Point Zero, and Imaginova, a digital media company.

In a press release, NYPR President Laura Walker said that monthly downloads of NYPR podcasts and on-demand content have tripled in the last three years, and sponsorship on those platforms doubled in the last year.

  • Leah Garaas

    Maybe he’ll finally get the dev team to fix the First Listen bug for member stations so we can use our own players instead of their embed.