JJ Yore, co-creator of public radio’s Marketplace and a former v.p. and executive producer with American Public Media, will step into a station leadership role Aug. 1 as g.m. of WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C.
“It feels great to be coming back to Washington,” said Yore, who lived and worked in the area before heading west to start Marketplace. “WAMU is a station I have been close to and listened to since the mid-80s. I was listening to Diane Rehm before she had a national show. I feel like this is a culture I understand deeply.”
Yore served as v.p. and g.m. of American Public Media’s portfolio of Marketplace programming for two years until his job was eliminated in June 2013. He had helped launch Marketplace and went on to serve as v.p. and executive producer for the show and its spinoffs.
As Marketplace g.m., Yore grew underwriting income from $2 million to $10 million and secured $13 million in philanthropic gifts, according to a WAMU release. Before joining the show, Yore edited Current from 1986-88.
After leaving APM, Yore traveled with his family for a few months before taking on consulting projects. “Later in the year, it struck me that it was time to buckle down and figure out what should come next in terms of a full-time job,” Yore said. “I was contacted about the WAMU job, and I was interested for all kinds of reasons.”
WAMU draws one of the biggest audiences among public radio stations nationwide, a success Yore attributed to former g.m. Caryn Mathes and her staff. Mathes left WAMU in January to lead KUOW-FM in Seattle. Yore said he hoped to build from the station’s firm groundwork.
“This is a great opportunity, and I think WAMU is really poised to reach the next stage of its evolution,” Yore said.
Mathes had served as WAMU’s g.m. since 2005, overseeing an expansion of the station’s service area and the launching of a separate FM service devoted to bluegrass and traditional music. The station has an annual budget of $22 million.
Yore and his wife, independent public radio and TV producer Mary Beth Kirchner, will move from Los Angeles to Washington in July.