Comings and goings: Stations elect NPR board members, Kroc fellows start at network

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Leaders of NPR’s member stations appointed new board members in elections this month: Joe O’Connor, CEO of WFAE in Charlotte, N.C.; and Mike Savage, GM of WEKU in Richmond, Ky. Savage served a previous three-year term on the board from 2014–17.

The membership also reelected two incumbents to three-year terms: LaFontaine Oliver, GM of WYPR in Baltimore; and Jay Pearce, GM of WVIK in Rock Island, Ill.

In addition, members confirmed elections by the board of public directors Carlos Alvarez, Howard Wollner and Telisa Yancy. Alvarez is chairman and CEO of the Gambrinus Co., which owns Texas’ Spoetzl Brewery, brewer of Shiner Bock, and the Trumer Brewery in Berkeley, Calif. Wollner is a retired senior VP of Starbucks Coffee Co. and is chairman of the NPR Foundation until Nov. 1. Yancy, who is new to the board, is COO of American Family Insurance, based in Madison Wis.

John McGinn was elected as the NPR Foundation Board of Trustees Chair for a term beginning in November, making him an ex officio director on NPR’s board. McGinn serves on the boards of New York Public Radio, Radio Diaries and the American Friends of Covent Garden. He previously held leadership roles in consumer lending and risk management for Citigroup.

In a separate ballot, representatives of the Public Radio Satellite System ratified the board’s election of Josh Kubasta and Loretta Rucker to three-year terms as non-board Distribution/Interconnection Committee members. Kubasta is managing director, broadcast production and operations at Minnesota Public Radio. Rucker is executive director of the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

NPR has selected its latest group of Kroc Fellows.

The recipients of this year’s Kroc Fellowships are Hannah Hagemann, Austin Horn and Isabella Gomez Sarmiento. They will spend the next year receiving hands-on training in audio and digital journalism, including writing, reporting, producing and editing, according to NPR’s release.

Sarmiento, Horn and Hagemann (Photo: Wanyu Zhang/NPR)

Hagemann has reported for KQED in San Francisco and previously worked as a geologist cleaning up industrial pollution in California. Over the past year, she has reported on topics including fishing issues and climate change. She will begin her Kroc Fellowship with Goats and Soda, NPR’s blog about global health and development.

Horn is graduating from Columbia University in May with a bachelor’s degree in American studies. He has held leadership positions at the Columbia Daily Spectator and interned for the San Antonio Express-News and Kentucky’s Frankfort State-Journal. He will work on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Sarmiento holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Georgia State University. She has interned with CNN and contributed to Teen Vogue, Remezcla, Noisey and She Shreds. At NPR, she will begin her fellowship on the National Desk.

Created with philanthropist Joan Kroc’s bequest to NPR, the Kroc Fellowships are given to recent graduates to “identify and develop the next generation of exceptional public radio talent,” according to NPR. Past recipients include NPR’s Ailsa Chang and Hansi Lo Wang.



Steve Edwards has been named the interim CEO of Chicago Public Media. The station’s board also appointed Chief Marketing Officer Kassie Stephenson as interim COO. Edwards was previously VP and chief content officer. He worked for WBEZ for 13 years before leaving in 2012 to join the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics and rejoined the station in 2017. Stephenson has worked for Chicago Public Media since 2015. Former CEO Goli Sheikholeslami is joining New York Public Radio as CEO next month.


Brit Hanson is joining NPR as a producer of a new daily science podcast from the network’s Science Desk. Hanson has contributed to Vox’s Today, Explained podcast and has worked for North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y., and St. Louis Public Radio.

Jerome Campbell will head to KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., next month to report for the station. He has been freelancing for WBUR in Boston.

WFAE hired Ann Doss Helms as education reporter. Helms previously covered education for the Charlotte Observer for 16 years. 


Ayisha Jaffer is the new afternoon drive host and promotions coordinator at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. Jaffer most recently owned and ran Greater Than Propaganda, a company that handled artist and tour management, venue promotion and production, and developing brand and partnership campaigns for artists and projects. She also has worked as a DJ for noncommercial alternative music stations in New Zealand. Jaffer has also been a part-time host for Radio Milwaukee.

John Morrison is the host of Culture Cypher Radio, a new monthly hip-hop show on WXPN in Philadelphia. Morrison has DJed at venues in Philadelphia, recorded albums and co-hosts Serious Rap Shit, a weekly podcast. He’s also written for Bandcamp Daily, Jazz Times and The Key, WXPN’s website about local music. His WXPN show debuts Friday.

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Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Mike Savage previously served a three-year term on the NPR board from 2015–17. His term began in 2014.

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