MPR Founder, Longtime CEO Bill Kling to Step Down

The board of the American Public Media Group-parent company of Minnesota Public Radio-is conducting a search for Bill Kling's successor.

Bill Kling, who has served as president of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) since its 1967 inception, will step down from his position next June.

The American Public Media Group (APMG)-which was founded by Kling and serves as parent company of MPR-broke the news of Kling's retirement on Friday. Kling has served as the APMG's only CEO.

The company said that it has been engaged in a “succession-planning process” for more than a year and expects a smooth transition following Kling's departure. The APMG's board is currently conducting a formal search for his successor.

“Bill Kling is unique in terms of his ability to sustain an amazing level of energy, vision, and creativity over a remarkable and storied career,” Randall Hogan, chair of MPR's and APMG's boards, and CEO of Pentair, Inc., said in a statement. “Most CEOs count their years in office on the fingers of one hand. Bill has twice run out of fingers and toes to mark his years of service but is nowhere near out of ideas, commitment, or passion.”

Kling will maintain his presence in the media community even after exiting his longtime role at MPR. He plans to develop fundraising initiatives independent of the APMG “to strengthen public media and demonstrate its ability to gather and distribute regional news.”

“Journalism is at a crossroads and it's clearer every day that public media has a bigger role to play,” Kling said in a statement. “I'm looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with public broadcasting leaders across the country on ideas to strengthen public media's regional newsgathering capacity.”

In a personalized e-mail sent to colleagues on Friday, Kling wrote that he is “enormously proud” of what the APMG team has accomplished-including growing its support from a single member more than 40 years ago to the 111,000-member organization that exists today.

“We have a wonderful team of managers and content producers in our studios across the country and around the world,” Kling wrote. “We have a strong endowment, much of which was earned from the fruits of businesses that we started and sold over the years. And we have had wonderful board members who have supported, guided, and governed this company and helped it to be successful.”

Kling was also a founding trustee of National Public Radio, and he served as the founding chairman and CEO of Public Radio International.

Today, the APMG operates a network of more than 40 stations and bills itself as the largest public radio organization in the country. It provides news and cultural programming to more than 900,000 Minnesotans and 16.5 million people across the country, according to MPR.