Comings and goings: NPR names engineering VP, ‘BirdNote’ hires new leader …

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Nik Khilnani joined NPR as VP of engineering.


Khilnani previously worked as VP of engineering for Lurn Inc., an e-learning platform. He has also been senior director of platform engineering for the Walt Disney Co. and held platform/engineering roles for Gannett and National Geographic Partners.

“Nik has an impressive track record of leadership in both engineering and media with executive leadership roles,” said NPR CEO John Lansing in a news release. “… Nik will help us anticipate and serve the changing needs of a new generation of audio listeners and news consumers, and play a leading role in creating and executing a technical strategy to grow the business.”

BirdNote, a radio program based in Seattle, announced a leadership change.

Nick Bayard became the program’s executive director, succeeding Sallie Bodie, who is retiring after working for BirdNote since 2007.

Bayard most recently worked as assistant chief equity officer for the city of Tacoma, Wash. He has also been director of the Reach Center, a nonprofit in Tacoma.


“Nick brings demonstrated experience building and managing a nonprofit with tremendous potential,” said Tom Livingston, president of the BirdNote Board of Directors in a news release. “We’re excited to have Nick lead us in supporting new programs and reaching new audiences, making birding an accessible and inspiring way for communities around the country to connect with conservation.”



Justin McKee was promoted to director of creative services for Houston Public Media. He will lead all branding and marketing for the organization. McKee joined the station in 2014 as senior producer of creative services and most recently worked as creative services manager. He previously held director positions for commercial stations in Houston and Bryan, Texas.


Nancy Yang is leaving her position as a digital editor for Minnesota Public Radio to become senior editor of audience engagement for The Star Tribune. Yang joined MPR in 2014. “It’s been a good run, but it’s time to say farewell after 7 years,” Yang said on Twitter.


Jamie Simmons joined Michigan Radio as a community engagement reporter, a new position. She previously worked as engagement director for the Michigan Climate Action Network. Prior to receiving her master’s degree in social work last year, Simmons interned for the City of Lansing.


Melinda Whiting became midday classical music host for WRTI in Philadelphia. She will also host new broadcasts of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert, beginning in January. She succeeds Debra Lew Harder, who left WRTI to become a host and announcer for the Metropolitan Opera. Whiting joined the station in 2017 as Monday and fill-in host. She previously worked as a host for NPR and WQXR in New York. She was also a producer for WHYY in Philadelphia, editor-in-chief of Symphony magazine and a VP and senior editor for the Curtis Institute of Music.

Woody Cain was hired as a Morning Edition co-host and producer for WFAE in Charlotte, N.C. Cain most recently worked as radio news director for the Motor Racing Network, where he produced and hosted NASCAR Today.


The Public Radio Program Directors Association appointed new members to its executive committee:

  • Jeff Ramirez, VP of radio for KERA in Dallas, became chair, succeeding Todd Mundt, senior managing editor for Here & Now.
  • Ben Adler, PD for CapRadio in Sacramento, Calif., became secretary, succeeding Bill Lueth, president of KDFC in San Francisco.
  • And Matt Martinez, senior producer for On Being Studios, became treasurer, succeeding Jon Hoban, GM of KJZZ/KBAQ in Phoenix. 

PRPD also elected new directors to serve three-year terms starting in January. They are Tamberly Ferguson, director of digital media and strategy for WDAV in Davidson, N.C.; Nick Yee, program manager and host for Hawaii Public Radio; Jenell Walton, VP of content for Cincinnati Public Radio; and Elise Pepple, executive director for Marfa Public Radio in Texas.

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