Felde pens kids’ mystery, APM Podcasts gets new editor, and other comings and goings

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Kitty Felde, who covered Capitol Hill for public radio, has written a children’s mystery book, Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza.

“I was always more interested in the human side of politics, something that didn’t always fit into a news story,” Felde said in a press release from Texas-based publisher Black Rose Writing. “Telling the story of Fina allowed me to describe the real Capitol Hill.” The character is based on a young woman Felde mentored.

In the story, 10-year-old Mendoza moves to D.C. with her father, a congressman from California. One day she encounters “the Demon Cat of Capitol Hill” and must solve the mystery of the cursed cat before her family suffers the accompanying bad luck.

“Kitty looked for the Demon Cat while covering Congress for public radio,” according to the announcement. “She found the paw prints, but not the cat.”

Felde currently hosts the Book Club for Kids podcast.



American Public Media has hired Phyllis Fletcher as editor for APM Podcasts. Most recently Fletcher was Western bureau chief for NPR. Earlier in her career Fletcher spent 14 years reporting and editing for KUOW Public Radio in Seattle. She begins work for APM March 11, based in Seattle.

Patrick Madden will join WWNO May 1 as regional news director, responsible for guiding reporting for the New Orleans station and its partner WRKF in Baton Rouge. Previously Madden reported for WAMU in Washington, D.C., where he won two national Edward R. Murrow awards.

The New York Times has promoted NPR alum Theo Balcomb to lead its audio team, as executive producer of news and The Daily podcast. Previously she was managing producer of The Daily. Balcomb worked at NPR seven years before departing in 2014 as  supervising producer of All Things Considered.

Cass Herrington is the new local host of Morning Edition at Blue Ridge Public Radio in Asheville, N.C. Herrington spent the past seven years as host and reporter at NPR member stations in Indiana and Illinois, most recently WCBU in Peoria.


WKAR Radio Station Manager Peter Whorf will leave the station in East Lansing, Mich., March 8 to become on-air classical music host at WRCJ-FM in Detroit. Whorf has been with WKAR six years. He’s worked in public radio since 1989 at stations including WNYC in New York and Chicago’s WBEZ and WFMT.

Leila Miller, former digital reporting fellow at Frontline, is now reporting for the Los Angeles Times.

Nadine Sebai, former reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, Calif., has joined The Public’s Radio in Providence, R.I., as South Coast bureau reporter. Earlier in her career she interned at KQED in San Francisco. Shane McKeon, a former intern with NPR‘s Planet Money, also joined the station to report on health. Earlier in his career he interned at ideastream in Cleveland, Ohio.

KDNK-FM has announced several staff changes. The station in Carbondale, Colo., hired Mark Duggan as news director. His previous experience includes programming KSUT-FM in Durango, Colo. and reporting for KUAZ-FM in Tucson, Ariz. Raleigh Burleigh rises from news and public affairs director to program director. And Luke Nestler, who formerly directed news and music programming, now focuses solely on music.


Liz Felix will join WYEP in Pittsburgh April 1 to host Evening Mix on the Triple A station. Felix previously programmed or hosted at four stations including WNKU in Highland Heights, Ky. Currently Felix directs communications at BirdNote, a public media program airing on 200 radio stations nationwide.

Reporter Melissa Santos has joined KCTS in Seattle to cover politics for its independent nonprofit news site, Crosscut. Most recently Santos was an editorial writer at the Seattle Times, and previously covered state government for the News-Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.

Candace Manriquez Wrenn, formerly a reporter for Arizona Public Media in Tucson, Ariz., will join Marketplace Morning Report as an associate producer/director.


The Institute for Nonprofit News has hired two leaders and promoted two staffers. Jonathan Kealing has joined INN as its first chief network officer, focusing on collaboration among newsrooms. Kealing previously worked at PRI as executive editor of PRI.org, director of interactive properties and senior web editor. Sharon McGowan is INN’s first Amplify News collaborations leader, helping member organizations in the Midwest to collaborate more effectively. She is the founding editor of the nonprofit Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Fran Scarlett, INN’s business coach, rises to chief knowledge officer to work on leadership development. And Kay Lima, acting director of INN Labs, rises to the full director of the collaborative innovation initiative.


WMNF-FM in Tampa, Fla., “has ended its long-running relationship with News Director Rob Lorei,” according to a post on the station’s website. Lorei was a co-founder of the station, which went on the air in 1979. A post from board President David Harbeitner said “as in almost all personnel situations, the full story will never be aired and tried in the media. We owe it to our employees to treat them better than that, and we will act accordingly in this situation. What you read and hear about this matter will be just the tip of an iceberg of facts that we will investigate in our grievance procedure to ensure Rob was treated fairly.” [Update: Lorei returned to the station March 25 after the board reinstated him, according to the Tampa Bay Times.]

Molly de Aguiar is the new president of grantmaker Independence Public Media of Philadelphia Inc.’s foundation. Previously de Aguiar directed the News Integrity Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York. Earlier in her career she designed and directed the Informed Communities grants program at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Independence Public Media, former licensee of WYBE in Philadelphia, transitioned to a grantmaking organization in 2017 after receiving $131.5 million by relinquishing the station’s spectrum in the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction. The foundation is set to announce grant awards for this fiscal year before June 30.

Fred Esplin, GM of KUED in Salt Lake City from 1981 until 2000, has retired as VP of institutional advancement at licensee University of Utah. Earlier in his career Esplin worked at PBS on publicity for Bill Moyers’ programs and for the National Public Affairs Center for Television, which produced the Watergate hearings. Esplin also worked in marketing and development at WITF-TV and FM in Hershey, Pa.    



Pacific Islanders in Communications has promoted Maluhia Kaimikaua operations manager. Kaimikaua joined PIC in 2014 as a management assistant and rose to management and events coordinator in 2016.

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Correction: An earlier version of this column mistakenly said that Phyllis Fletcher was previously Seattle bureau chief for NPR. She was Northwest bureau chief.

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