NPR names Jarl Mohn its new president and CEO

Jarl Mohn is the new president and CEO of NPR. The chairman of Southern California Public Radio replaces Paul G. Haaga Jr., who’d been NPR’s acting president and CEO. Gary Knell, the last person to hold the job, left unexpectedly last year after 21 months in the top spot.

Mohn “is a major benefactor of KPCC” and in the ’70s “was a radio and TV DJ who performed under the name ‘Lee Masters,’” NPR media reporter David Folkenflik reports on Twitter. Mohn was previously CEO of E! Entertainment Television and Liberty Digital, and served as chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California. With his wife, Mohn pledged $500,000 to an art prize that promotes Los Angeles artists. His name is pronounced “YARL MOAN,” Folkenflik reports.

Via NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith, here’s a recording of Mohn on WNBC in 1978:

And here he is, in a magnificent shirt, talking about a guy impersonating Elton John.

Release:

NPR NAMES JARL MOHN PRESIDENT AND CEO

May 9, 2014; Washington, D.C. – The board of directors of NPR announced today that it had selected Jarl Mohn to become its next president and chief executive officer. Mohn is currently chairman of Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) and has had a life-long career in media, including serving as founding president and chief executive officer of Liberty Digital and president and chief executive officer of E! Entertainment Television.

“We are delighted to welcome Jarl, whose background as a successful media executive and innovator makes him ideally suited to lead NPR as it continues to expand its reach and play a unique role in public service journalism and cultural programming,’’ said Kit Jensen, chairman of the board of NPR and chief operating officer of ideastream in Cleveland, Ohio. “Jarl has a deep commitment to the public radio system, love of radio and passion for quality journalism. He has demonstrated throughout his career a keen ability to identify media and consumer trends. He has exhibited a strong track record on diversity and fairness.”

Mohn, 62 years old, will begin his term at NPR in July and will succeed Paul G. Haaga Jr., who has been acting chief executive officer and president since last year.

“This is not a job for me. It is a mission. I love public radio and NPR. It is a national treasure and more important now than ever,” said Mohn. “I want to make sure the staff of NPR, the Member Stations and the others who make it happen have everything they need to do their best work.”

In addition to his service to public radio, Mohn was the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Digital (NASDAQ: LDIG), a public company that invested in interactive television, cable networks and internet enterprises. Prior to Liberty Digital, he created E! Entertainment Television and served as President and Chief Executive Officer from January 1990 to December 1998. He was Executive Vice President and General Manager of MTV and VH1, from 1986 to 1990. He began his career as a disc jockey in 1967 and was on the air on WNBC-AM in New York in the 1970s. Most recently he has divided him time between being a corporate director and advisor to a number of media companies, making direct early stage angel and seed investments in digital media/technology ventures. He and his wife Pamela created The Mohn Family Foundation in 2000.

Mohn attended Temple University, where he studied Mathematics and Philosophy.

About NPR

NPR is an award-winning, multiplatform news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with its Member Stations nationwide, NPR provides the public with a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. To find local stations and broadcast times for NPR programs, visit www.npr.org/stations

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  • markisenberg

    NPR has struggled first with financing till Joan Kroc left them an endowment and later with editorial mistakes like with Juan Williams so it has become mired in the perception that the President’s job is not crucial these days. Kind of like the PBS Newshour where fewer watch since Jim Lehrer left his on air role and the new weekend edition has almost no viewership. But,NPR serves a lot of commuters still with Morning Edition and All Things Considered and having a better relationship between the President and NPR affiliates will help at least short term and if this new leader is not too stuck with his awful E-Entertainment ideas,maybe it will work out a little better. But Talk of the Nation had run its course and there is no need for it to return.

  • Pontifikate

    Knell made bad decisions in the name of cost cutting. Instead of encouraging audience engagement, he cut “Talk of the Nation”, the only show where callers could call, in real time, and speak about national issues, nationally. I fear that the new CEO will, with his entertainment-focused past, re-make NPR into being more “entertaining” with less substance, the direction it seems to be headed lately with more and more short pieces.