CEO Gary Knell leaving NPR after less than 2 years

WASHINGTON — The president and CEO of NPR is stepping down after less than two years to take a similar position at the National Geographic Society, the public radio organization’s board of directors announced Monday.

Gary Knell said he plans to stay on the job at Washington-based National Public Radio until November while the board works to find a successor, serving out most, if not all, of his initial contract.

Knell, who spent 11 years as CEO of Sesame Workshop, took over NPR in December 2011 after a difficult period. He succeeded Vivian Schiller, who resigned under pressure after a former NPR fundraiser was caught on camera calling the tea party racist. The episode led some conservatives to call for an end to federal funding for NPR, which receives some grant money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its member stations also get CPB funding.

“We’ve calmed some of the waters politically. I’ve done a lot of outreach to members on both sides of the aisle to put NPR into a better context,” Knell told The Associated Press. “I think we’ve set in motion a strategy and an economic trajectory that will make it easier for the next CEO to carry on the work.”

Knell said the offer to become president and CEO of the National Geographic Society was unsolicited and that the decision to accept it was difficult. He had planned to seek a renewal of his contract.

“We wish Gary the very best. He was a stellar CEO, and we certainly understand why other people want him,” board chair Kit Jensen said. “He’s put us on a very good footing for the future.”

During Knell’s tenure, NPR has improved its digital presence, strengthened relationships with its member stations and bolstered philanthropic and corporate support, the organization said in a news release.

NPR distributes news, information and music programming to 975 public radio stations, reaching 27 million listeners a week.

More in Herald Business Journal

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

‘Not surprising’: FCC repeals net neutrality rules

Internet service providers will be free to slow down competing services and sell faster speeds.

Disney buying large part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Before the buyout, 21st Century Fox will spin off the Fox network, stations and cable channels.

Commentary: GM, Boeing fight a war of words over Mars

Boeing is strongly signaling how crucial deep-space exploration is to its future.

Angel of the Winds pays $3.4M for Everett arena naming rights

The casino replaces Xfinity as the lead sponsor for the publicly owned downtown Everett events center.

Delta orders 100 Airbus A321neo jets valued at $12.7 billion

Boeing had hoped to land the deal, offering comparable 737s.

Rubio to vote against tax bill if child credit isn’t expanded

Sen. Bob Corker announced that he would vote against it due to concerns on the federal deficit.

Tulalips break ground on new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel

A 150-room hotel was added to what is now a $140 million complex expected to open in spring 2019.

Most Read