Comings and goings: NPR board names vice chair, KQED launches housing desk …

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The NPR board of directors elected Wonya Lucas, CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, as its vice chair, board chair Paul Haaga Jr. announced during a meeting Friday.

Lucas (Photo: Julie Drizin/Current)

Lucas replaces Goli Sheikholeslami, who resigned from the board after accepting the job of CEO of New York Public Radio in August. Sheikholeslami resigned due to “a very technical, very unfortunate, very inflexible provision” in antitrust law, Haaga said during the meeting. The provision “doesn’t affect very many stations, two or three at most,” Haaga said, but does affect NYPR.

Sheikholeslami was previously CEO of Chicago Public Radio. “Goli took over in Chicago and came to a station that might fairly be characterized as collaboration-challenged with NPR and has completely fixed that, and [it’s] one of the most collaborative and engaged of our stations,” Haaga said. “She’s just gone to a station that might be fairly characterized as collaboration-challenged. And I know she can fix it there too.”

Lucas joined the NPR board in May 2017 to fill an unexpired term vacancy and was elected to a three-year term on the board in November 2017.

Haaga was also reelected as board chair and will serve for one year, which will be his last with the board due to term limits, he said during the meeting. He joined the board in 2011 and served as NPR’s acting CEO from September 2013 to July 2014. He rejoined the board in November 2014.

San Francisco’s KQED has assigned three journalists to a new housing desk.

The desk will cover “the Bay Area’s housing and affordability crisis,” the station said in a press release.

Aguilar, Baldassari and Solomon

Erika Aguilar will lead coverage plans as the desk’s senior editor. She previously was editor for The Bay, a KQED podcast.

The desk’s two housing reporters will be Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari. Solomon previously worked as Southwest Washington bureau chief for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Baldassari was most recently a transportation reporter for the East Bay Times and The Mercury News.

Meanwhile, Alan Montecillo tweeted that he’s heading to the station to take on Aguilar’s old job with The Bay. He’s currently senior producer for The 21st at Illinois Public Media in Urbana.

Content

Mark Memmott will be the new statewide managing editor for the Texas Newsroom, the statewide collaboration launched with support from NPR. Memmott has been NPR’s supervising senior editor for standards and practices for five years. As statewide managing editor in Texas, he will be an employee of KERA in Dallas and have a main office at KUT in Austin. He begins Jan. 6. Rick Holter, KERA VP of News, said in an email to public radio stations that the Texas Newsroom will soon add a statewide senior editor based at Texas Public Radio in San Antonio and a statewide business manager based in Dallas.

Eric Marrapodi is moving to a new temporary role at NPR: a 15-month assignment leading the network’s live coverage of special events for the 2020 election. Marrapodi is a senior supervising producer/editor for Morning Edition. He joined the show in March. Before starting at NPR, Marrapodi was senior producer in Washington for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

Wiza

The Current, Minnesota Public Radio’s Triple A station in Minneapolis, promoted Jesse Wiza to assistant producer. She was previously a music assistant for the station.

Mayowa Aina tweeted that she’s joining Alaska Public Media in Anchorage. She has been a Kroc Fellow at NPR since September 2018. Previously she was an associate producer for KUOW in Seattle.

Esther Honig is going freelance. She’s been a reporter at KUNC in Greeley, Colo.

Management

Kevin Smith-Fagan, associate GM — external affairs at KVIE-TV in Sacramento, Calif., is leaving the station to become executive director of Fairytale Town. The children’s play park and outdoor museum covers 3 1/2 acres in Sacramento. Smith-Fagan has worked at KVIE for 15 years and served on a number of PBS committees.

Administration

The Public Radio Program Directors Association hired a new business and operations manager as part of a staff reorganization. Mollie Pollack has about 10 years of experience in community nonprofit work. PRPD also announced that it is eliminating its position of director of membership and operations, held by Jessica Frantz. “To say that Jessica has been instrumental in the life of PRPD would be an understatement,” wrote PRPD President Abby Goldstein in an email. “During her time with PRPD, she willingly and enthusiastically jumped in to make sure that PRPD was doing its best to serve its members.” PRPD is moving its business, finance and operations functions in-house.

Send news of “comings and goings” to people@current.org

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