NPR chief Jarl Mohn says he will step down next year

Jarl Mohn, shown in 2013, is stepping down as head of National Public Radio.
Jarl Mohn, shown in 2013, is stepping down as head of National Public Radio.
(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

National Public Radio President and Chief Executive Jarl Mohn will step down from his leadership role at the broadcaster when his contract ends in June.

Mohn announced his departure on Tuesday, adding that he will remain an NPR board member and serve as co-chair of the service’s 50th anniversary capital campaign.

Mohn, who previously was chairman of KPCC-FM (89.3) Southern California Public Radio, also announced that he and his wife would make a $10-million donation to NPR.

“My wife Pam and I are more committed than ever to helping NPR and public radio achieve long-term financial stability, particularly at a time when journalism is under economic and political pressures,” he said in a statement. “We invite others who care about quality journalism and public service to join us in investing in this remarkable institution and its journalists.”

Mohn, 66, joined NPR in 2014, a hiring that was controversial due to his extensive background in commercial broadcasting. Mohn was a rock radio disc jockey in the 1970s under the name Lee Masters and held executive posts at cable networks VH-1 and E! Entertainment Television.


But overall listening for NPR broadcasts grew under Mohn’s tenure. He also led the service into podcasting and increased its availability over virtual assistants and other internet-connected devices. He is also credited with improving the service’s financial health.

But Mohn’s tenure was marred over the past year by allegations of sexual harassment raised against Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director who left NPR in 2017. Mohn was criticized internally for failing to act when allegations against Oreskes were first brought to his attention.

Mohn took a medical leave for several months after dealing with the Oreskes departure, which was part of a wave of #MeToo-related incidents that swept through the media industry over the last 15 months. Mohn had suffered a burst aorta in early 2017, which required him to undergo open heart surgery.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio