Friday, May 8, 2020


Jenn White
1A, the nationally syndicated daily news/talk program heard on over 375 NPR member stations, has hired Jenn White as its new host.

White is a public media heavyweight with a splendid track record everywhere she has worked. 

She will begin her new assignment on July 6, 2020.

White most recently was the host of WBEZ’s midday show Reset. She had worked as a local host of All Things Considered (ATC). White started at WBEZ in 2016 as a reporter and commentator.

Prior to moving to WBEZ, White worked at Michigan Radio as Director of Media Outreach and Community Relations and was the local host for ATC. Her impressive resume also includes several years as the Executive Producer and host of the television program Out of the Blue: The Michigan Difference. The program aired nationally on the Big Ten Network.

Joshua Johnson on MSNBC
White replaces Joshua Johnson who left 1A in December when he was hired by the cable news channel MSNBC. Johnson’s departure from 1A was unexpected because he was the founding host of show and had been a strong in-person advocate for public media.

At MSNBC, Johnson appears as an occasional weekend host and panelist on other programs. Now he is probably making more money, but we wonder if he misses the long-form conversations he had with guests and listeners on 1A.

We met Johnson at the PRPD Content Conference last fall and he seemed to love what was doing on 1A. His enthusiasm for NPR News, member stations and listeners was contagious. But, we have no information about why he left public radio.
JJ Yore, GM of WAMU, made this comment on WAMU’s website [link]:

“Joshua [Johnson] was immensely talented, But some of the feedback that we got was that he didn’t always exhibit strong listening qualities, and he didn’t have as much natural warmth as we might have wanted.”

Ray Suarez
This reminds us Ray Suarez, the popular host of Talk of the Nation (TOTN) from 1993-1999.   
Suarez left TOTN to become a reporter for PBS Newshour.

We spoke with Suarez frequently in 2010 when our parent company, Ken Mills Agency, did consulting work for Newshour

We asked him if he missed his work on TOTN

He told us he missed it “every day at 2:00pm.”

We were hired by Newshour as a contractor to evaluate the “radio side” of the program. 

At that time, audio from PBS Newshour was provided unedited to about a dozen NPR News stations. 

The leadership at PBS Newshour were surprised when we told them that more than twice as many people heard the show on radio than watched it on TV.

We recommended that Newshour invest more resources in public radio. We did a feasibility study for a new, one-hour, daily news and interview public radio program with the working title Lunch.

In 2010 there appeared to be a need for a new midday show for the growing number of NPR News/Talk stations. TOTN was on the way out at NPR and Here & Now was just beginning in Boston. For the study we talked with Program Directs and managers at six major NPR News stations. In our final report to Newshour we wrote:

“Conditions appear to be very favorable for Lunch to succeed. The Noon to 1:59pm ET day-part is not dominated by any program or network. Programmers perceive national programs now available for the day-part to be placeholders.”

“Programmers feel NPR is not taking the day-part seriously and they don’t expect new programs to be created even as existing programs decline. Programmers say they are looking for stronger news programming for broadcast between Morning Edition and All Things Considered.”

But Lunch didn’t happen because the person in charge at Newshour thought a popular radio program would make it harder to find sponsor money for the TV version.

So, consider Lunch to be the “radio road not taken”by Newshour.

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