New York Public Radio Names a New Leader, Goli Sheikholeslami

0 0
Read Time2 Minute, 40 Second

The last time the New York public radio station WNYC had a new boss, in 1995, Rudolph W. Giuliani was mayor, and the station had an audience of about one million listeners a month and an operating budget of $8 million.

Since then, WNYC’s parent organization, New York Public Radio, has grown into a public media powerhouse, with a budget of $97 million, nationally syndicated radio programs and dozens of podcasts, including hits like “2 Dope Queens” and “Trump, Inc.” The organization says that it attracts 24 million people across its various broadcast and online properties.

And for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, New York Public Radio has a new leader. The nonprofit group announced on Wednesday that its new chief executive would be Goli Sheikholeslami, who has led Chicago Public Media, which owns the radio station WBEZ, since 2014, and is a former executive at The Washington Post and Condé Nast. She will start her position in New York in October.

When asked about her plans, Ms. Sheikholeslami said in a statement, “New York Public Radio has been a pioneer in building new platforms and connecting with listeners around the world, and there is so much more we can do, even as we continue to deepen our local coverage and focus on telling the New York story across every community.”

ImageLaura R. Walker stepped down as New York Public Radio’s chief executive after leading the organization for 24 years.
CreditStephen Lovekin/Getty Images

New York Public Radio’s portfolio includes WNYC; the classical music station WQXR; New Jersey Public Radio, a group of four stations; WNYC Studios, a podcast division; and the New York news site Gothamist. Among its best known radio programs are “Radiolab” and “On the Media.”

Ms. Sheikholeslami succeeds Laura R. Walker, who led the organization for nearly 24 years. During that time, Ms. Walker transformed WNYC into a major power in public media but left after a accusations of harassment and discrimination by hosts raised doubts about her leadership.

John Hockenberry, the host of the show “The Takeaway,” left the station in 2017; months later, he was accused of harassing employees and even one guest. Two other longtime hosts, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, were dismissed after unspecified allegations of inappropriate behavior. Both men denied any misconduct.

An investigation last year, commissioned by the board of New York Public Radio and carried out by the law firm Proskauer Rose, found examples of offensive and bullying behavior at the organization but said that it was not “systemic.”

Ms. Walker, who earned more than $1 million a year in salary and benefits, according to New York Public Radio’s most recently disclosed financial statements, announced her departure in December, telling employees in a memo, “It’s no secret that this past year has been stressful for the organization.” She stepped down in March.

Mayo Stuntz, the chairman of New York Public Radio’s board of trustees, praised the company’s new leader, Ms. Sheikholeslami, for “helping some of the country’s most venerable media companies create new content, reach broader audiences, and identify new revenue streams — all while staying true to their core missions.”