Comings and goings: VPR hires ‘Vermont Edition’ hosts, John Decker promoted at KPBS …

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Vermont Public Radio hired Connor Cyrus and Mikaela Lefrak as the new co-hosts and senior producers for Vermont Edition.

Cyrus and Lefrak

Cyrus and Lefrak will replace Jane Lindholm, who ended her tenure as host to help expand But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids and produce special news projects for the station. Lindholm’s final day as host will be March 25; Cyrus and Lefrak will begin hosting this summer. The station is developing an interim plan for the spring and early summer, according to a news release.

Cyrus is a reporter for WJAR, an NBC affiliate in Providence, R.I. He previously worked as a reporter for WCAX, a CBS affiliate in Burlington, Vt. “One of the reasons I became a journalist was for opportunities like this one: the chance to make a difference and guide the conversations on the important topics in Vermont,” Cyrus said in the release. “I’m thrilled to be returning to Vermont for everything the state has to offer.”

Lefrak is a reporter for WAMU in Washington, D.C., and hosts the WAMU podcast What’s With Washington. Lefrak joined the station in 2016 and has also worked as a Morning Edition producer and arts and culture reporter. Before that, she was an associate editor for the New Republic, where she produced the magazine’s politics and culture podcasts. “I’ve long admired VPR as a leader in local journalism and audio storytelling and I look forward to laying down roots and amplifying the voices of Vermonters,” Lefrak said in the release.



John Decker was promoted to associate GM for content at KPBS in San Diego. Decker joined the station in 1995 and most recently worked as director of programming. He was also reelected to NPR’s board of directors last year.

Ezra David Romero was hired as a climate reporter for KQED in San Francisco. Romero previously worked as a reporter and podcast host for CapRadio in Sacramento, Calif. He has also been a reporter, producer and podcast host for Valley Public Radio in Fresno.

Kaari Pitkin is joining the audio team of the New York Times Opinion section as a senior editor. She will help develop new programs in the role. Pitkin recently left her position as an EP of Radio Rookies, a workshop created by WNYC in New York City. In addition, Derek Arthur is leaving his position as a production assistant for Rough Translation, produced by NPR, to join the Times as an associate producer on the Times team. Arthur joined NPR last year as an intern and was also a news assistant for Rough Translation.


Brakkton Booker announced that he will join Politico as a national political correspondent and author of The Recast, a newsletter focused on “race, power, politics and policy.” His first day with Politico is March 30. Booker is a national desk reporter for NPR and has held several other positions with the network. He was also a general assignment reporter for WAMU in Washington, D.C.

Hugo Balta, a former news director for WTTW in Chicago, announced that he will be a contributing writer for the Chicago Reporter. Balta’s employment with WTTW ended this month after the station said he violated news standards and held operational and editorial roles at another media outlet, which it called a conflict of interest. Balta has said he was “unfairly terminated.” Before joining WTTW, Balta held production roles for Telemundo, MSNBC, ESPN and local television stations in New York.



Azita Manson was hired as an EVP and head of cloud and software infrastructure for Public Media Group, a technology company based in Colorado. As part of the hiring, PMG also acquired software she developed for the ATSC 3.0 standard, according to a news release. Manson most recently founded OpenZNet. She was also senior director of technology and architecture for SeaChange and director of technology for TiVo.



Erika Khair was hired as a membership coordinator for WEKU in Richmond, Ky. Khair most recently worked as a prospect research coordinator for Belmont University. She was also an annual giving and database manager for Walla Walla University.


Nine PBS in St. Louis announced the first cohort for its Raymond H. Wittcoff Community Engagement Fellows. Wittcoff, who died in 2018, was a founding member of the station. The part-time fellows will work to boost engagement with educational content for children. They are Paula Vickers, a community engagement manager for Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri; Gina Watkins, most recently a site administrator for Aim High St. Louis; and Meghan Steineker, a community access program manager for Support, Inc.

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