Jarl Mohn, a longtime radio and television executive who created E! Entertainment Television, helped launch MTV and VH1 and formed his own venture capital firm, has led NPR for nearly a year. While Mohn may seem like an outside choice for public radio, his commercial media roots, investments in new media and his 12 years on the board of Southern California Public Radio may prove critical in charting NPR's future.
For the first time in six years, NPR is set to break even financially in 2015 with its $190 million budget, Mohn told a group of Associated Press journalists this week. Its audience of 28 million to 30 million listeners remains strong but mostly flat, though the amount of time spent listening has declined. That's something he wants to fix.
Behind the scenes, the Washington-based network has struggled with annual deficits of $4 million to $6 million, leading to cuts in staffing and other costs. The network also drew on reserve funds to cover shortfalls. Mohn is NPR's fifth acting or permanent CEO in six years. He has signed on for five years.
With the nonprofit network on firmer financial footing, Mohn said NPR is looking to grow its audience and raise its ambitions in fundraising to draw larger donations from foundations and wealthy individuals and more corporate sponsorships.
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