You could say I might be a bit overeager about getting started. That would explain my 4:45am arrival – with extra coffee – at 635 Massachusetts Avenue this morning to sit in on the first feed of Morning Edition. For millions of listeners, morning sounds like Steve and Renee, and it was invigorating to actually watch this team put on a live broadcast that connects millions of Americans to a whole world of events, ideas, places and cultures – and to each other.
Today, I officially make the transition from longtime NPR groupie to a colleague of the journalists, producers, editors, writers and others whose work I've long admired. This organization has a profound impact on our world every single day; I'm humbled to now be able to say "we" when I talk about all that NPR has done and will continue to do.
Since accepting this job in October, I've been winding down my work with Sesame Workshop and also serving as a busy public radio "volunteer." I had the chance to make several visits to stations over the past month, including WAMU's 50th anniversary soiree here in D.C.; KPCC, KQED and KCRW on the West Coast; gala celebrations for my New York stations WNYC and WBGO; and WUWM in Wisconsin. I met colleagues at NPR West in Culver City (near where I grew up), and NPR New York. And today at 2pm, I'll have one of the first opportunities to talk with listeners, in an interview with Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation. I'm looking forward to hearing what people value and want more of from NPR. I'll then take the conversation to the social-verse for my first Twitter chat from 3-3:30pm (ET). Tag your questions #nprceo and follow the conversation @nprgaryknell.
What's clear to me already is that this ability to 'connect' exists in every corner of public radio. It's in the local public affairs programs that tackle and explain critical community issues. It's in our collective digital effort, to innovate across new frontiers. It's in the coverage of local complexities, foreign issues and investigative work that hold people accountable, and report what other news outlets increasingly ignore. It's in the music discovery that opens up worlds for our listeners. It's in our accessibility, available almost everywhere and free to all.
The NPR staff comes to work every day knowing that public radio is invaluable to our nation – and it provides a vital public service commercial radio simply cannot. In the coming years, NPR will be more important than ever. The media environment is increasingly crowded, chaotic and complex. What people need is not just more information, but an ally to help them make sense of it all. And no one does that better than NPR.
Can't wait to dive in and get started!