Kevin Klose To Be RFE/RL’s Acting President And CEO

BBG Watch Commentary

Kevin KloseThe Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has named Kevin Klose to be Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Acting President and CEO.

Klose will replace Steven Korn whose resignation becomes effective January 25.

Steven Korn claims that he resigned on his own for personal reasons, but it has been widely reported that the BBG had asked him to leave. Korn’s decision to fire some of the best Radio Liberty Russian journalists turned almost the entire human rights and democratic opposition community in Russia against him, his new Russian Service director Masha Gessen and his top advisors.

Radio Liberty’s reputation in Russia and in some of the former Soviet republics has been badly damaged by personnel and programming decisions, which Korn described as an attempt to reform RFE/RL but which produced numerous scandals, significant audience losses, and protests from such leaders as Mikhail Gorbachev and Lyudmila Alexeeva.

In addition to firing dozens of experienced journalists and multimedia experts in Moscow, Korn also dismissed some of the best journalists in RFE/RL Kazakh, Turkmen, and Ukrainian services. RFE/RL journalists Saida Kalkulova and Nazira Darimbet were fired from the Kazakh Service after reporting examples of mismanagement and questioning actions of top RFE/RL officials, including controversial videos with offensive content produced for Kazakhstan and the firing of the Moscow bureau Russian staff.

RFE/RL managers instructed staff and freelance journalists to restrict their political and human rights reporting focusing on government officials and corruption. They were told to focus instead on more “normal” reporting of social problems in their countries. Similar instructions were issued by the new director of the Russian Service, as feature stories and images of questionable value and taste started to appear on the Russian Radio Liberty website, which lost much of its previous audience.

According to sources within the BBG administration in Washington, BBG members, both Democrats and Republicans, are discussing ways of rehabilitating RFE/RL journalists who were fired and talked about it with Kevin Klose.

Both Democrats and Republicans serving on the BBG board welcomed Kevin Klose’s selection to replace Korn:

“Kevin Klose’s deep experience in journalism and international broadcasting is unparalleled for this mission,” BBG member Susan McCue said. ”His leadership and stable hand will build bridges to the future while ensuring that RFE/RL’s long tradition of journalistic integrity and courageous reporting is honored.”

BBG Board member Victor Ashe noted, “Kevin Klose brings years of experience and is the right person to lead the rebuilding. RFE/RL is fortunate to have him as we face and resolve many difficult and serious issues. Thanks to my colleagues for all they have done to bring this about.”

Victor Ashe has been one of the strongest critics of Steven Korn’s management style and his personnel and programming decisions at RFE/RL.

Supporters of U.S. international broadcasting, including BBG Watch, are highly pleased by the BBG decision to bring Kevin Klose back to RFE/RL.

Klose was president of RFE/RL from 1994 to 1997, overseeing its relocation from Munich to Prague. In 1997-98, he directed the International Broadcasting Bureau. Klose was also president of NPR from 1998 to 2008, and was named President Emeritus in 2008.

Kevin Klose enjoys wide support among U.S. international broadcasting and Russia experts. Former Radio Liberty Russian Service director Mario Corti described Klose as the last great RFE/RL president. Corti called Klose “competent and very engaged” and said that his departure in 1997 led to RFE/RL losing its uniqueness.

In a Wall Street Journal article published a day before Steven Korn’s resignation was announced, John O’Sullivan, former Radio free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) executive editor and former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, described Kevin Klose as an ideal candidate to restore confidence and a sense of mission at RFE/RL. O’Sullivan was one of several RFE/RL managers whom Steven Korn described as “old white guys” and forced to resign.

“…someone experienced editorially and internationally but detached from recent BBG politics (former NPR president Kevin Klose would be ideal), can determine what went wrong in the course of putting it right. The board’s sole advice should be: Rehire the journalists dismissed in Moscow to such loud effect.”

Turmoil Over America’s Radio Voice in Russia: The mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists prompted a protest by human-rights activists in Moscow,” John O’Sullivan, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 30, 2012.

Official BBG Press Release

Kevin Klose To Be RFE/RL’s Acting President And CEO

JANUARY 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Broadcasting Board of Governors announced today that distinguished journalist and broadcast executive Kevin Klose will be the Acting President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Acting in its capacity as RFE/RL’s corporate board of directors, the Board voted unanimously to ask Klose to take on the position for up to one year, starting January 26.

“As a former chief of both National Public Radio and RFE/RL, Kevin is seasoned at leading broadcasters through critical transitions,” said Michael Lynton, the Board’s presiding governor. “There is no more qualified person to manage this key part of U.S. international broadcasting than Kevin. We are thrilled that he will return to public service as we implement our media strategy in priority countries from Iran to Russia and across Eurasia.”

Klose was president of NPR from 1998 to 2008, and was named President Emeritus in 2008. Before joining NPR, he was president of RFE/RL from 1994 to 1997, overseeing its relocation from Munich to Prague. In 1997-98, he directed the International Broadcasting Bureau at the U.S. Information Agency. Prior to this, he was an editor and reporter for The Washington Post for 25 years, including stints as Moscow bureau chief, city editor and deputy national editor. A tenured professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, Klose served as dean of the journalism college from April 2009 to July 2012. He will be on leave from his faculty position while serving at RFE/RL. He earned a B.A. from Harvard and is the author of five books, including Russia and the Russians: Inside the Closed Society.

“I am honored to be offered this opportunity and eager to lend a hand,” Klose said upon accepting the position with RFE/RL. “I look forward to re-connecting with many friends in Prague and Russia and to working with the entire RFE/RL team.”

“We are grateful that Kevin has agreed to take on this task, and we thank University of Maryland President Wallace Loh for the university’s swift response and flexibility,” said Dennis Mulhaupt, chairman of the RFE/RL corporate board. “Kevin understands well from first-hand experience the special challenge and public trust that RFE/RL represents. I’d like to thank my colleagues for their speedy work in addressing RFE/RL’s interim leadership needs – especially Susan McCue, the board’s vice-chair, who has spearheaded the effort to recruit Kevin. We look forward to working with him.”

Washington, D.C. – The Broadcasting Board of Governors announced today that distinguished journalist and broadcast executive Kevin Klose will be the Acting President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Acting in its capacity as RFE/RL’s corporate board of directors, the Board voted unanimously to ask Klose to take on the position for up to one year, starting January 26.

“As a former chief of both National Public Radio and RFE/RL, Kevin is seasoned at leading broadcasters through critical transitions,” said Michael Lynton, the Board’s presiding governor. “There is no more qualified person to manage this key part of U.S. international broadcasting than Kevin. We are thrilled that he will return to public service as we implement our media strategy in priority countries from Iran to Russia and across Eurasia.”

Klose was president of NPR from 1998 to 2008, and was named President Emeritus in 2008. Before joining NPR, he was president of RFE/RL from 1994 to 1997, overseeing its relocation from Munich to Prague. In 1997-98, he directed the International Broadcasting Bureau at the U.S. Information Agency. Prior to this, he was an editor and reporter for The Washington Post for 25 years, including stints as Moscow bureau chief, city editor and deputy national editor. A tenured professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, Klose served as dean of the journalism college from April 2009 to July 2012. He will be on leave from his faculty position while serving at RFE/RL. He earned a B.A. from Harvard and is the author of five books, including Russia and the Russians: Inside the Closed Society.

“I am honored to be offered this opportunity and eager to lend a hand,” Klose said upon accepting the position with RFE/RL. “I look forward to re-connecting with many friends in Prague and Russia and to working with the entire RFE/RL team.”

“We are grateful that Kevin has agreed to take on this task, and we thank University of Maryland President Wallace Loh for the university’s swift response and flexibility,” said Dennis Mulhaupt, chairman of the RFE/RL corporate board. “Kevin understands well from first-hand experience the special challenge and public trust that RFE/RL represents. I’d like to thank my colleagues for their speedy work in addressing RFE/RL’s interim leadership needs – especially Susan McCue, the board’s vice-chair, who has spearheaded the effort to recruit Kevin. We look forward to working with him.”

“Kevin Klose’s deep experience in journalism and international broadcasting is unparalleled for this mission,” McCue said. ”His leadership and stable hand will build bridges to the future while ensuring that RFE/RL’s long tradition of journalistic integrity and courageous reporting is honored.”

BBG Board member Victor Ashe noted, “Kevin Klose brings years of experience and is the right person to lead the rebuilding. RFE/RL is fortunate to have him as we face and resolve many difficult and serious issues. Thanks to my colleagues for all they have done to bring this about.”

The Board plans to engage a professional search firm during the coming months to identify and hire a successor president.

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