Laura Walker To Step Down As New York Public Radio President/CEO

Charlie Sykes WNYC Minnesota Public Radio IndivisibleLaura Walker will step down as President and CEO of New York Public Radio on March 31, 2019.

Walker has led NYPR and Public News/Talk stations 820 WNYC and 93.9 WNYC-FM since 1996 to oversee their spin-off from New York City ownership into an independent nonprofit. She also oversaw the 2009 acquisition of Classical 105.9 WQXR, half of the former NJN Radio stations in New Jersey and built WNYC Studios into one of the largest podcast producers in the world. Prior to joining the company she served as a reporter for NPR and at Carnegie Hall and Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop). She also serves on the Board of Directors of Tribune Media.

Walker also oversaw the station through the harassment and sexual misconduct issues and failure to act surrounding John Hockenberry, Leonard Lopate, and Jonathan Schwartz last year and then building a new strategy to resolve the issues.

New York Public Radio (NYPR) President and CEO Laura Walker will step down from her role, Walker and the NYPR Board of Trustees announced today, capping a remarkable 23-year career that established NYPR as one of the most important media organizations in the nation, with tremendous growth in listenership and in local and national audio programming. Walker, who will be pursuing opportunities including a university position and starting her own venture, will remain CEO through March 31, and will be available to assist with the transition to the new CEO through June of 2019. A subcommittee of the Board of Trustees will begin a national search for NYPR’s next leader.

“Leading New York Public Radio over the last two decades has been the honor of my lifetime. During my time at NYPR, we have grown our audience from 1 million to 26 million monthly listeners, strengthening public radio at a time of great disruption in the media industry, and have become a leading player in the exploding podcasting space. I’m deeply proud of the many programs we have created—from Radiolab, More Perfect, The New Yorker Radio Hour, All of It and On The Media—the capital campaigns that have raised more than $160 million and the many ways we’ve endeavored to meet our mission to ‘make the mind more curious, the heart more open and the soul more joyful.’ I am leaving NYPR well-positioned to continue to do groundbreaking multiplatform journalism and music programming for listeners of diverse backgrounds, in New York, across the country and around the globe,” said Laura Walker.

“Laura Walker took New York Public Radio from its modest beginnings as an independent startup to the internationally-recognized audio and journalism leader it is today. When Laura first took the helm at WNYC’s former home in the New York City Municipal Building, it was hard to imagine that the next 20 years would see a 2,000% increase in listenership, a newsroom expansion from just 3 reporters to 70, a 20-fold increase in annual budget, and the creation of new content—from Radiolab to 2 Dope Queens—heard and enjoyed all around the world. The Board of Trustees will lead a national search for NYPR’s next leader, who can build on Laura’s legacy of innovation and service, continue to advance our mission and forge our next, exciting chapter,” said Board of Trustees Chair Mayo Stuntz.

Under Laura Walker’s leadership, New York Public Radio has been transformed from a City-owned municipal radio station reaching one million people a month to an independent nonprofit with eight radio stations, Gothamist, and 18 nationally distributed programs/podcasts that together reach 26 million people a month. Ms. Walker joined New York Public Radio (then WNYC) in 1996, becoming the newly independent station’s first President and CEO, leading its campaign to acquire the WNYC AM and FM licenses from the City of New York. Ms. Walker’s tenure has been marked by dramatic growth for the organization, including the acquisition of WQXR from The New York Times Company, preserving classical music radio for New York City; a move to new headquarters and the build-out of The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space; the acquisition of four New Jersey public radio stations from the State of New Jersey; and the acquisition of Gothamist. In 2015, New York Public Radio launched WNYC Studios, its national on-demand audio production and distribution arm and has been one of the most influential producers of podcasts since the earliest days of the medium.

A recognized leader, writer and speaker on media, culture and business, Ms. Walker was honored with an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She was named one of New York City’s Most Powerful Women by Crain’s New York Business in 2009 and 2017 and was chosen for the Crain’s New York Business special feature on “The 100 Most Influential Women in NYC Business” in 2007.

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