NPR Names Jarl Mohn As Its New CEO | Here & Now


This is HERE AND NOW from NPR and WBUR Boston. I'm Jeremy Hobson.

And now for some news about us, NPR, that is. Today, the network named a new president and chief executive officer, 62-year-old Jarl Mohn will take over on July 1st and will be the fifth person to hold that job on either an interim or permanent basis in just five years. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us now for more on this. David, welcome back.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, thanks so much, Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, first, just tell us what you can about Jarl Mohn and his background.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I literally just stepped out of studio with him to step in to this studio with you on the line. He's a very commanding, charismatic guy. He's kind of a media innovator and creator. He helped found the E! Entertainment Network. He was one of the top first executives, MTV and VH1. He's been involved also on the boards of XM Satellite Radio and of comScore, which is, you know, helps to measure digital traffic.

So a guy who's thought a lot about broadcasting, about entertainment, and about traffic and how audiences respond. One of the first things I said to him was, you know, what do you bring from those endeavors? And said, well, one of the things I really understand are the expectations of audiences and the importance of living up to your mission.

NPR's a very different mission than E! TV. We're not doing reality radio, if you will. You know, I'm not going to change what NPR is good at and what people expect of it. But I am going to try to deliver even better on that promise.

HOBSON: And how is he being received so far by NPR's member stations? There's long been this conflict about how NPR can move forward, especially with digital stuff when the bread and butter does come from all the member stations.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, that's right. A significant portion of NPR's revenue comes from fees for the programs, primarily MORNING EDITION, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, but some others as well, that the member stations pay. And as a result, member stations are both clients and insofar as member station executives hold 10 of the 17 seats on the governing board of directors, they are also the bosses of NPR, and it means that we're really system rather than a top-down network. And that has its strengths, but it also has a lot of sort of multi-faceted arguments and debates about things.

One thing that I can say about Mohn is as well as being a benefactor of a number of cultural institutions throughout southern California where he lives, he's also been a board member of KPCC, that's Southern California Public Radio. It's one of our largest, most-influential member stations.

And he's, for the last two years call it, been the chairman of the board there. And he's really tried to help them cultivate and reinforce their intention of serving as a civil space for news and information, exchange of ideas, even so far as going to help them come up with one of their recent marketing slogans that he thinks helps reinforce not just their brand, but their mission, and that brand is: No rant, no slant.

HOBSON: Right.

FOLKENFLIK: A slogan he thought of going down the escalator while he was going to pick up his bags at the airport.

HOBSON: I've seen that on billboards around Los Angeles, David. But, let me ask you, just in the minute we have left, do you think he'll last because every CEO seems to get snapped up by somebody else and leave within a short period of time.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, he's committed to a five-year contract. I asked him that very question not minutes ago. And his answer is, look, I don't need a job. I mean, he's a very wealthy man. He doesn't need to do anything right now. And he's taking this job because he says he believes in this. He thinks that there's opportunity to help wildly increase NPR's revenues and to share those revenues with the member stations in a way that inspires greater collaboration rather than greater tensions.

HOBSON: NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik on the news today that NPR has appointed a new president and CEO. It is Jarl Mohn. He will start on July 1st. David, thanks so much.



So Amanda Beland didn't get the job.

HOBSON: I guess she did not. She's our intern.

YOUNG: And Amanda's our intern. She's graduating from Emerson Sunday with a master's, so Jarl Mohn look out.

HOBSON: Maybe he can give her a job now, or at least starting July 1st. Amanda, we wish you the best of luck. This is HERE AND NOW.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.