Not too many people apparently saw the new CEO of NPR coming. Jarl Mohn takes a job that has been the center of turmoil for years. He comes from a radio disc jockey background and used to be known as Lee Masters before he became an exec at MTV and VH1 back when they were cutting edge.
Lee Masters? With a name like that, you just know what he did on the radio.
A news background? Not so much. He created “Talk Soup” on the E Network. And he was one of the early mainstream media execs to figure out that people would oneday watch TV on their cellphones.
But NPR hasn’t had much luck with CEOs with news backgrounds. This will be NPR’s seventh president/CEO in seven years.
He’s also got a six-degrees-of-separation relationship to Minnesota. He’s been chairman of Southern California Public Radio, which is owned by American Public Media.
Oh, and he’s Norwegian.
By the way, you can still buy your Lee Masters What If I Knew Then What I Know Now tape for radio programmers for just $29.
Here’s the news release.
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.