NPR ‘streamlines’ news leadership, its stations elect board reps, and more comings and goings

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NPR News has reorganized its management structure.

Doby Photography/NPR


David Sweeney leads newsgathering with the new title of chief news editor, reporting to News SVP Michael Oreskes. Sweeney was formerly managing editor for news operations and security.

Two managing editors report to Sweeney: Gerry Holmes, previously deputy managing editor and producer for All Things Considered, and Sara Kehaulani Goo, who joined NPR last year as deputy managing editor to oversee digital.

Julia Redpath Buckley becomes deputy managing editor for special coverage. Buckley has held several editing and production roles in more than 20 years at NPR, including executive producer for the election unit.

Changes also involve newsroom editorial support and financial operations. Sharahn Thomas rises to senior director, news operations and budget; previously she was director of news operations. Thomas manages the news division’s budget and the news operations team.

And Franklyn Cater moves up to direct collaborative news strategy. His previous roles include NPR Cities Project editor. In his new role, Cater reports to news VP Chris Turpin and member partnership VP Gemma Hooley.

Oreskes said he was changing the newsroom leadership structure “to clarify roles and ensure fast, streamlined editorial decision making,” he told colleagues in a Sept. 20 email.

In other NPR news, member stations elected new board members as well as incumbents in September.

Hugh Rojo/NPR

New members of the NPR Board, from left: John Decker, KPBS; Mike Crane, Wisconsin Public Radio; Wonya Lucas, Public Broadcasting Atlanta; and Nico Leone, KCUR-FM, Kansas City, Mo.

New to the panel are John Decker, programming director, KPBS, San Diego; and Nico Leone, general manager, KCUR-FM, Kansas City, Mo.

Incumbents are Mike Crane, director of Wisconsin Public Radio, Madison; and Wonya Lucas, president, Public Broadcasting Atlanta.

Members also confirmed the board’s election of Fred Dust, senior partner, Ideo; Paul Haaga Jr., retired chair of Capital Research and Management Co.; and Jeff Sine, co-founder and partner of The Raine Group.

On a separate ballot, Public Radio Satellite Service representatives ratified the board’s election of Sally Kane, CEO of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, to a second three-year term as a non-board distribution/interconnection committee member.

All are three-year terms that begin in November.


Andrea Kissack is NPR’s new chief science editor and head of the science desk. She succeeds Anne Gudenkauf, who is moving to a part-time role focusing on the podcast Invisibilia. Kissack previously served as deputy senior supervising editor of the digital team on the science desk. Earlier in her career, she spent 10 years as a senior editor at KQED in San Francisco, overseeing multimedia science coverage.

Caitlin Sanders


Alicia Montgomery, who spent the last year as editorial director at WAMU in Washington, D.C., is returning to NPR as Morning Edition senior supervising editor/producer. Montgomery joined NPR in 2003 working on Day to Day. She’s since served in various roles, including supervising senior producer for Code Switch.

Anna Sale, host of WNYC’s Death, Sex & Money podcast, is writing a book. Simon & Schuster will publish Go There: The Art of Talking About Hard Things.

High-school teacher Joe Pacitti is the new host of Scholastic Scrimmage on WLVT in Bethlehem, Pa. Pacitti is only the third host in the program’s 42-year history. He succeeds Karen Walton, provost and VP for academic affairs at DeSales University, who recently retired after 20 years on the show. Pacitti teaches English, AP language and composition and is the yearbook adviser at Salisbury High School in Allentown, Pa.


Veteran radio host and musician Matt Watroba is launching a new weekly music show on WKAR in East Lansing, Mich. The premiere this month of Folk with Matt Watroba marks the return of a locally hosted folk show to WKAR; The Folk Tradition with Bob Blackman ended after 25 years when Blackman retired in 2011. Watroba previously hosted Folks Like Us on WDET Detroit for more than 20 years and was a local folk host and producer for WKSU at Kent State University.


Journalist Claire McInerny has joined KUT in Austin, Texas, to report on education and equity issues. Her previous experience includes working at Indiana Public Media in Bloomington.

Louisville Public Media announced several staff changes and additions in its newsroom this month. Erica Peterson, environment reporter since 2011, rose to assignment editor to oversee daily news operations of WFPL and Jake Ryan joined the station’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting to focus on government accountability; he joined WFPL in 2013. And the station hired Kyeland Jackson as associate producer to help launch a talk show in the coming months. He’ll also work as a general assignment reporter.


Public Radio International has elected two new members to its board of directors. Kathryn Finney is founder and managing director of digitalundivided, a social enterprise founded in 2013 that supports innovation-focused entrepreneurship among African-American and Latina women. And Michael Armstrong is GM of BET Networks, where he oversees content strategy and multiplatform scheduling, marketing, corporate communications and operations.

Craig Fugate, who spent seven years as an administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has joined the board of America’s Public Television Stations. He begins a three-year term as an at-large trustee and at-large director starting this month. Fugate also directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “As America’s public television stations enhance their service in public safety communications — most recently demonstrated during the hurricanes in Texas and Florida — Mr. Fugate will play a central role in connecting our stations and their datacasting capabilities with the public safety community throughout America,” said APTS President Patrick Butler in the Wednesday announcement.

WQED’s board of directors has elected leadership. Tom McGough, EVP and chief legal officer for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, was unanimously approved for a second one-year term as chair. Approved as officers were Mildred S. Myers, professor emerita at Carnegie Mellon University, vice chair and secretary; Nancy Bromall Barry, retired business executive, vice chair and treasurer; attorney James Singer, vice chair; and Deborah Acklin, station president and CEO.

The new chair of the board of WNET is Edgar Wachenheim III, CEO of the New York investment firm Greenhaven Associates Inc. He succeeds James S. Tisch, who led the board of the New York City station for 11 years.


PBS has added three members to its Digital Media Advisory Council: Andrew MacCartney, VP of education and digital media Georgia Public Broadcasting; James Davie, director of programming and digital media at KUED in Salt Lake City; and Maribel Lopez, digital account and partner manager at Twin Cities PBS. Also, Chris Hastings, EP at the World Channel, joined the group as producer liaison “to help ensure producer and producing station viewpoints” are included in discussions, the council said in a statement.



Colorado Public Radio President Max Wycisk will retire next June. He has spent more than 40 years at the station in Centennial, starting as an on-air announcer and moving up to program director. Wycisk has served as president since 1978. His achievements include separating the station from the University of Denver in 1984 to create an independent organization and adding 10 additional signals across the state from 1991 to 2001. He served on NPR’s board twice and chaired the Station Resource Group.

Veteran public radio broadcaster Richard Miles is the new GM of WBAA-FM at Purdue University in West LaFayette, Ind. Miles previously chaired Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations, a nonprofit association of 17 public TV and radio stations, and served as VP of interactive media and content strategy and VP of audio services and TV programming at WFYI in Indianapolis.


Al Bartholet, who came out of retirement in 2103 to lead WMRA in Harrisonburg, Va., has retired once again after 40 years in public radio. Assistant General Manager Matt Bingay is interim GM.

PBS has promoted two executives. Jennifer Rankin Byrne rises to VP, corporate communications. She has led publicity for general audience programming since joining PBS in 2011. And Dana Golub ascends to the new role of VP, programs management. Golub will continue to oversee the PBS Warning Alert Response Network.


Longtime public broadcasting development professional Sylvia Bennett is taking over as director of development at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at University of California, Berkeley. For the past decade Bennett has worked at WNED in Buffalo, N.Y., most recently as SVP of development and corporate communications. Throughout her 30-year career in public broadcasting, she has worked in production, programming, fundraising development, special events, volunteer services and pledge at PBS, KQED in San Francisco, and WETA in Washington, D.C.

Jane Nicholson, manager of institutional giving at Chicago Public Media, has joined ProPublica Illinois as director of development. Earlier in her career, she worked in development and sales at the nonprofit Koahnic Broadcast Corp. in Alaska and at A&E Television Networks.


The new Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy holds its first meeting Thursday in New York City. Commissioners from nonprofit media outlets include Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer, Frontline; and John Thornton, founder of the Texas Tribune. The group will meet throughout the next year in locations nationwide to engage communities in the work, which will culminate in a report set for publication in late 2018. The commission aims to “help media industry leaders, citizens and government officials better understand the causes and consequences of a collapse in trust in democratic institutions, such as the media,” according to the Aspen Institute, a partner organization.


Adnaan Wasey, former executive producer at POV Digital, is the first Rita Allen Fellow for Science Communication at WGBH in Boston. Wasey will spend a year at the station collaborating with the science series Nova as well as other science projects. Earlier in his career Wasey was web editor for The Takeaway and interactives editor at NewsHour. The fellowship’s goal is to expand science awareness and understanding, according to the foundation. Wasay begins work in January.

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