Meet WBGO’s New Leader: Its Former PD, An Industry Vet


Since the 1980s, the New York Tri-State Area has enjoyed Jazz programming on the FM dial by way of a non-commercial FM licensed to Newark, N.J., with a transmitter that nine years ago relocated to Midtown Manhattan.

This station now has a new President/CEO — its programming consultant from March, and a former programming head who departed in April 2018 for Seattle.

Steven A. Williams has been appointed to the top post at WBGO-FM 88.3, by the Newark Public Radio Board of Trustees.

Williams assumes his new role on Jan. 4, 2021, and his appointment follows “a rigorous national search, spearheaded by a search committee, which included current and previous WBGO Board members, community partners, and even WBGO’s founder and interim President/CEO, Bob Ottenhoff.

That group of candidates includes Williams, who was Director of Programming at WBGO from January 2015-April 2018.

Williams will focus on expanding WBGO’s visibility and representing it in the philanthropic, government, and civic communities in Newark, as well as nationally in the media, Newark Public Radio says.

As the President/CEO, Williams will oversee a $6 million budget and lead WBGO’s staff of 60, including on-air talent and production and engineering professionals.

“I’m thrilled to lead Newark Public Radio in this new chapter of its storied legacy,” said Williams, most recently Director of Audio Production at KUOW Public Radio in Seattle. “I welcome this tremendous opportunity to continue and strengthen WBGO’s commitment to promoting the art form of jazz and ensuring diversity in both its workforce and audience. To be given this responsibility is a great honor and I’ll maximize the opportunities before me with thoughtful and informed leadership to build upon the many achievements of this iconic institution.”

Williams is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and was Managing Producer at its WAMU-FM 88.5 from August 2009-January 2015, responsible for supervising (and participating in) the production, distribution, marketing, promotion and online presence of “The Animal House,” a 60-minute magazine program about the connections between animals and humans.

Before that, Williams had a lengthy career in commercial radio, serving as a Program Director for Jefferson-Pilot in Denver; as a PD for Clear Channel in Philadelphia and in San Francisco; and as a Senior Producer at KGO-AM 810 in San Francisco from August 2004-August 2005, and again from August 2007-August 2009.

In between, he served as Jazz Format Manager for Sirius XM, for a two-year period, while moonlighting as a CBS Radio Broadcast Technician. In 2006, he left for a 1-year stint as a senior producer for Urban One’s Michael Eric Dyson Show.