There was no single reason why the NPR Board ended Ken Stern’s 18-month run as chief executive officer — or at least none that any participant in the decision would describe publicly after Stern’s abrupt exit March 6 . Judging from what board members, station execs and other observers are willing to say, it came down to a lack of confidence in Stern’s ability to lead the organization in directions that public radio’s various stakeholders — especially NPR stations — could embrace. “I can’t comment on the nature of that decision,” said Dennis Haarsager, a longtime station leader now serving as interim c.e.o., “except to say that it was more forward-looking as opposed to backward. No malfeasance should be imputed from this.”
Indeed, Stern’s fans and critics alike say he contributed significantly to strengthening NPR’s financial standing and positioning it as a news organization capable of global coverage. Stern did not respond to Current’s interview request through NPR’s spokesperson.