Bill Buzenberg, head of NPR News for seven years, steps down

Originally published in Current, Jan. 20, 1997

head and shoulders portrait of Bill BuzenbergNPR Vice President Bill Buzenberg is splitting from NPR after 18 years with the network, seven running the news department. "I'm ready to take a break," an emotional Buzenberg said. "This is an all-consuming job I poured my body and soul into. I do still believe passionately in what we do. And I think the NPR brand shines as bright as anything in broadcasting today."

Buzenberg will begin a six-month sabbatical March 3 to complete a book about late CBS News President Richard Salant. He is co-editing the book of memoirs--Salant, CBS, and the Battle for the Soul of Broadcast Journalism--with his wife, Susan. Buzenberg says he may return to NPR after the sabbatical and take some other job, perhaps as a correspondent.

According to NPR, under Buzenberg's leadership the NPR news audience has grown by 43 percent, to 12 million listeners each week. Station membership has grown by 42 percent. NPR News has won 10 Peabody awards, and nine duPont/ Columbia silver and gold batons. Several programs were born: Talk of the Nation, Weekly Edition and the brand-new Sounds Like Science, and All Things Considered was expanded.

Buzenberg joined NPR News in 1978 as a foreign affairs correspondent, reporting on Latin America. From 1987 to 1989 he was London bureau chief, reporting from Europe and the former Soviet Union. In 1989, he became managing editor of NPR News, and in 1990, v.p. He is the recipient of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting, the World Hunger Media Award, the Latin American Studies Association Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. He was a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan, and studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Italy. Prior to his graduate studies, he was city editor of the Colorado Springs Sun and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia.

Pledge Partnership and research chief also resigns

John Sutton, director of cultural programming services and on-air fundraising, is leaving NPR to start his own fundraising and underwriting consulting service for public broadcasters. John Sutton and Associates will be based in Silver Spring, Md. He will continue to work with NPR's On-Air Fundraising Partnership, which he developed, and the Valentine's Day "For the Love of Public Radio" roses campaign. He will also manage PRI's underwriting partnership with stations, which has been funded by CPB's Future Fund. Sutton has been with NPR 10 years, starting as coordinator of on-air promotions. He was later appointed director of audience research, then took on the Fundraising Partnership and finally became director of strategic planning.



To Current's home page

In a 1995 commentary, Buzenberg defines what distinguishes NPR news from most broadcast journalism.


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