LaFontaine Oliver, a veteran radio executive who has led NPR member stations in Baltimore and Orlando, will soon become the next CEO of New York Public Radio.
Oliver, outgoing chair of NPR’s Board of Directors and president and CEO of Your Public Radio (WYPR) in Baltimore, will take the helm of NYPR in January, giving him oversight of WNYC, WQXR, Gothamist, WNYC Studios, the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, and New Jersey Public Radio, according to a press release.
The NYPR Board of Trustees announced Oliver’s appointment Tuesday. He will be NYPR's third CEO since it went independent from the City of New York in the mid-1990s, and will be the first Black person to serve in that role.
"I have long admired and respected the work of New York Public Radio," Oliver said in an interview with Gothamist. "I'm excited for the opportunity to join such a talented team and an organization that's been just incredibly pioneering and innovative in our space, and to do so in service of such a diverse community."
Oliver’s appointment will take effect 11 months after the departure of Goli Sheikholeslami, who left the company after a two-year stint as CEO to helm the Politico Media Group. The company hired Spencer Stuart, an executive search firm, to assist in identifying candidates for the job.
Since Sheikholeslami left, NYPR has been led on an interim basis by Cynthia King Vance, an NYPR trustee. The nonprofit declined to reveal Oliver's salary, with spokesperson Jennifer Houlihan Roussel saying it will be disclosed in its public tax forms "as is current practice."
Oliver, 45, has led WYPR in Baltimore since July 2019. Prior to that, he spent six years as president and general manager of Community Communications Inc., which operates NPR member stations WMFE and WMFV in central Florida.
Earlier in his career, he ran WEAA, an NPR affiliate owned by Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore. He’s served on the NPR board since 2016, including two terms as chair, the second of which expires next month.
In a press release, NYPR Board Chair Timothy Wilkins called Oliver a “veteran public radio leader and broadcaster who has nimbly led through significant industry shifts of the last 20 years.”
“As an experienced station leader and NPR Board Chair, he is well-attuned to the specific challenges facing local journalism and is a champion of the mission-driven, local / national partnership model of public radio,” Wilkins said in a statement.
Oliver will remain as chair of the NPR board until November, when a new chairperson is seated. He said he intends to embark on a "listening tour" upon starting in his new role — both internally, with members of the staff and board, and externally, with "key community stakeholders."
"One of the things that I've been able to do at a number of stops is just to help the organization think about how it can seize untapped opportunities, how it can better connect itself to the community, and how it can unlock potential for reaching and serving underserved audiences," Oliver said.
The article has been updated to include comments from LaFontaine Oliver.