Kling to retire from MPR, build regional news initiative

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Bill Kling will retire from Minnesota Public Radio and the American Public Media Group, the public radio network and national production company that he founded, built and ran for more than 40 years, APM announced today.

Kling, whose commitment to improving public radio service for listeners extended beyond Minnesota and encompassed both news and music formats, plans to leave APM in June 2011 to develop a new initiative aimed at building public media’s regional news services.

“Most c.e.o.s count their years in office on the fingers of one hand,” said Randall Hogan, MPR and APM board chair and c.e.o. of Minnesota-based Pentair, Inc. “Bill has twice run out of fingers and toes to mark his years of service but is nowhere out of ideas, commitment or passion.”

“Journalism is at a crossroads and it’s clearer every day that public media has a bigger role to play,” Kling said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with public broadcasting leaders across the country on ideas to strengthen public media’s regional newsgathering capacity.”

“Sooner or later there has to be a transition, so this is the time when you would want to do it,” Kling said in an MPR NewsQ story. “We have a balanced budget. We have a surplus this year. You wouldn’t want to do it under difficult circumstances, so I think that makes sense.”

The APM board has already initiated a search for Kling’s successor by appointing a special committee and retaining an executive search team to identify internal and external candidates for the c.e.o. position. “We expect our search will attract a range of exceptional candidates–from within the company and elsewhere–who understand the landscape, who see the opportunities and who appreciate the special culture and team that has made 44 years of success possible and that is also key to our future,” said Ian Friendly, chair of the succession committee and c.o.o. of U.S. retail for General Mills, Inc.

Additional links: Kling’s 2007 benediction to Public Radio Program Directors conference, “Why haven’t we grown more?

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