Bill Kling founded Minnesota Public Radio and became its CEO in 1966. Since then the organization has expanded to become American Public Media Group, but Kling’s position as CEO has never changed. Believe it or not, he’s announced plans to retire next year.
Kling will exit American Public Media Group (APMG), parent of both Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and national syndicator American Public Media (APM), in June 2011. The board of directors has begun succession planning to ensure a smooth transition.
“Bill Kling is unique in terms of his ability to sustain an amazing level of energy, vision and creativity over a remarkable and storied career,” said Randall Hogan, Board Chair of MPR and APMG, and CEO of Minnesota-based Pentair, Inc. “Most CEOs count their years in office on the fingers of one hand; Bill has twice run out of fingers and toes to mark his years of service but is nowhere near out of ideas, commitment or passion. We’re delighted that he intends to continue to lend himself to the cause of public media after APMG. The board, the staff, our members and millions of listeners around the world are grateful for his many contributions, including preparing the organization so well for this inevitable transition.”
“This wonderful company exists and has prospered – beyond what any of us imagined back in 1966 – because of a tremendously talented and innovative leadership team, a remarkable group of employees who feel a calling and a passion for what they do and because 161,000 generous supporters value this work,” said Kling. “It is this collective belief in the importance of what we do that makes every day a pleasure, and it provides the energy that will lift the company to its next stages of growth and success. It’s a privilege to be a part of this team. I look forward to welcoming my successor and – after the transition – to watching this group’s achievements for years to come.”
Throughout his career, Kling has been a thought leader in new ways to strengthen the financial footing of public media and in ways to make public media more relevant and impactful at the individual and community levels. Going forward he intends to develop fundraising initiatives outside of APMG to strengthen public media and demonstrate its ability to gather and distribute regional news.
“Journalism is at a crossroads and it’s clearer every day that public media has a bigger role to play. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with public broadcasting leaders across the country on ideas to strengthen public media’s regional newsgathering capacity. This is a great time for a new endeavor, particularly with the surety that APMG and its properties are – and will remain – well managed by a great team and well-led by an exceptional board,” Kling said.
The APMG board of directors has been engaged in executive succession planning across the entire management team on an on-going basis, and has appointed a special committee to direct the CEO succession and candidate search process. As part of its efforts, the succession committee has retained an executive search firm to identify both internal and external candidates for the CEO position.
“Bill and his colleagues have done an excellent job of positioning APMG to be successful in the midst of a rapidly changing media industry,” said Ian Friendly, Chair of the APMG Board’s Succession Committee and US Retail COO for General Mills, Inc. “APMG is a remarkable media property that is succeeding in a time when many media organizations are failing and other business models are under attack. We expect our search will attract a range of exceptional candidates – from within the company and elsewhere – who understand the landscape, who see the opportunities and who appreciate the special culture and team that has made 44 years of success possible and that is also the key to our future.”
Kling started Minnesota Public Radio as an idea at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, with University President Colman J. Barry, OSB. The first programming on January 22, 1967, was a concert by the Cleveland Orchestra. Today, APMG has grown to be the largest public radio organization in the United States with a network of 44 stations across the country including Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles and Classical South Florida in Miami. In 1970, Kling was one of the founding trustees of National Public Radio, and he later served as the founding Chairman and CEO of Public Radio International.