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Incoming NPR chief hopes to “calm the waters”

Former Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell is the new president of NPR.
Former Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell is the new president of NPR.

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The man who helped bring the beloved children’s show Sesame Street to a global audience is moving to a new street – actually a new avenue - Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., home base of National Public Radio.

This December, Gary Knell takes the reins as the radio network’s new president and CEO. He'll have his hands full – NPR has had quite a rocky year.

Vivian Schiller, who was NPR's news chief, the fundraising official and its chief executive, resigned from NPR earlier this year after she faced significant fallout from a series of controversies. One incident occurred when the network's former top fundraiser was caught on camera apparently calling the Tea Party racist.

Before that, Schiller caught flack for firing longtime analyst Juan Williams over controversial comments he made about Muslims on Fox News’ "The O’Reilly Factor." And some of NPR's senior managers lost their jobs as well.


Gary Knell says he wants to "depoliticize" NPR (of which KPCC is a member station). For more than a decade, Knell has led Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education organization that also produces Electric Company, Dragon Tales and other children's programming. What will he bring to one of the nation's leading broadcast operations for grown-ups?


Gary Knell, incoming president and CEO, NPR