NPR Taps Tech Executive Katherine Maher as CEO and President

NPR has tapped former Wikimedia Foundation chief Katherine Maher as the outlet’s next CEO and president.

Maher, 40, marks NPR’s 12th permanent chief executive and president, though she has never worked directly in journalism or at a news organization.

In an interview with NPR, Maher said that she is coming into her new role focused on building consumer loyalty for NPR’s news programs and other content.

“It’s about matching need and delight so people have a real desire to keep coming back, to engage with what it is that we offer,” Maher told NPR.

According to NPR board chair Jennifer Ferro — who led the search committee for the outlet’s new head executive — Maher will bring visionary leadership and fundraising skills to the table.

“NPR is a powerhouse, and it needs to be more ubiquitous,” Ferro, the president of Los Angeles public radio station KCRW told NPR. “We need to build that brand up.”

Maher will begin her role at NPR in late March. She was previously the CEO of Wikimedia, the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and other related projects, from 2019 until 2021. The outlet has gone through 10 permanent and acting chief executives in the last 20 years, according to NPR.

In September, NPR’s CEO and President John Lansing announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of 2023.

During his four-year tenure at NPR, the organization faced an unprecedented pandemic, media industry downturn and layoffs at the organization.

In March, NPR laid off around 100 employees, which equates to 10% of its workforce. The layoffs specifically targeted NPR podcasts, which Lansing attributed to the advertising revenue decline across the podcast industry.

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