Kinsey Wilson leaves NPR

NPR chief content officer Kinsey Wilson will leave NPR, new NPR CEO Jarl Mohn announced Monday in a note to staff (below). NPR media reporter David Folkenflik broke the news on Twitter:

Wilson is a trustee for Poynter. Mohn has promoted senior vice president for strategy Loren Mayor to COO. NPR plans to hire an SVP of News, a search that's still active, a network spokesman tells Poynter. That person "will report to the CEO," Mohn says in the memo. He also says he "will continue the practice of not being involved in day-to-day editorial decision-making and will have the same 'publisher' relationship with the SVP of News that exists at other media organizations." Wilson's position "will not be filled," Mohn writes.

Wilson "declines to comment about his departure," Folkenflik reports. Margaret Low Smith announced in July she would leave her post as NPR's senior vice president for news for a job at The Atlantic. NPR news programming boss Ellen McDonnell announced last month she would leave. Mohn got the top spot at NPR in May.

Here's Mohn's note to staff:

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been just over 90 days since my first day on the job, and I’m even more enthusiastic about our future. From day one I’ve said my most important responsibility will be to secure the resources that allow you to do the best work of your careers and to ensure that NPR and our Member Station community not only grow but thrive.

Today I’m announcing a reorganization of the senior leadership team that enables us to deliver on that commitment.

First, Loren Mayor, Senior Vice President of Strategy, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

As many of you know, Loren brings a sharp strategic lens to NPR and has demonstrated her ability to convene and advance conversations across the entirety of the organization. Thanks to her leadership, we have our first strategic plan in 10 years. It clearly lays out our four strategic priorities: create exceptional content; expand, diversify and engage our audience; collaborate; and grow net revenue.

As part of the reorganization, Kinsey Wilson, Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, will leave NPR after six years of vital contributions.

Loren will manage the daily operations across the organization, enabling me to focus on areas that most immediately impact content, station relations, philanthropy and corporate underwriting, and audience development (research, positioning, promotion, marketing), and help build NPR’s public profile.

I’ll naturally be involved in strategic decisions across the organization, but areas that will report up to Loren are: Corporate Strategy, Digital Media, Digital Services, Diversity, Engineering/IT, Human Resources, Member Partnership, and Policy and Representation.

Given my commitment to ensuring that NPR journalism continues to thrive as a preeminent and trusted news source, the newly selected Senior Vice President of News will report to the CEO. Our priority is to continue the quality and reach of our news programming across all platforms, especially for Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I will continue the practice of not being involved in day-to-day editorial decision-making and will have the same "publisher" relationship with the SVP of News that exists at other media organizations.

Chris Turpin will remain as acting head of news while we search for someone to fill that spot permanently.

Anya Grundmann, Director and Executive Producer of NPR Music, will report to the SVP of News, and Sarah Lumbard, VP of Content Strategy and Operations, Zach Brand, VP of Digital Media, and Bob Kempf, VP of Digital Services, will report to Loren. Eric Nuzum, VP of Programming, will report to Chief Marketing Officer Emma Carrasco, whose portfolio will expand to include audience development and the alignment of promotion and marketing across all platforms. All news-focused programming will eventually shift to the SVP of News, while non-news programs will continue to be led by Eric. All previously reported to Kinsey. Kinsey’s position will not be filled.

Kinsey, whose last day in the office will be Friday, joined NPR in October 2008 as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Media. He is widely credited with positioning NPR as a leader in the digital space, building editorial excellence and growing audience across platforms. He was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer in 2012, with responsibility for NPR’s worldwide newsgathering, programming, and digital operations. Under his leadership, NPR’s news and cultural coverage has flourished and been recognized with numerous broadcast and digital journalism awards. He championed NPR’s investigative reporting, led the development of new areas of editorial focus including Code Switch, expanded education and global health coverage, and created NPR’s new Culture and Identity unit. He forged groundbreaking partnerships with WBUR’s Here & Now and more recently with Marketplace Morning Report. And he oversaw the development of successful new programs, including TED Radio Hour and Ask Me Another.

Kinsey also spearheaded efforts to adapt NPR’s programming to changing audience demands and to extend the organization's influence and reach. He sponsored an ongoing effort to deepen NPR’s editorial ties with Member Stations. He championed the development of the Public Media Platform, forged a deal to make NPR the first news and information service on Apple’s iTunes Radio, and drove the vision and fundraising for NPR’s newest digital listening platform, NPR One, which launched in July.

I understand these changes may be disruptive to you but you have my assurance that the transition of responsibilities will be as seamless as possible. We will have an opportunity to discuss these changes during the upcoming all-staff meeting on October 8 at 12:30 PM ET.

While other outlets in our line of work have been retrenching, NPR has remained a leading brand in American journalism and a unique national asset. We must leverage this asset more than ever. Thanks to the commitment of our Member Stations, staff, listeners and sponsors, we have a bright future.

Please join me in congratulating Loren on her new role and thanking Kinsey for his years of leadership and service.

- Jarl

Correction: This post originally said Wilson promoted Mayor; Mohn did.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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