BBG Watch Commentary
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty president and CEO Kevin Klose will be leaving his job shortly as RFE/RL president and CEO.
Sources told BBG Watch that Klose promised BBG Chairman Jeff Shell that he will help with the transition.
According to sources, Klose’s departure was motivated by personal and professional reasons.
Observers see it as a huge loss for U.S. international media outreach, especially with Ukraine likely to become a major long-term media issue between US/EU and Russia, an international media expert told BBG Watch. Klose has a reputation of being an outstanding journalist and media executive. He is widely admired and respected by RFE/RL employees and outside supporters of U.S. international media outreach.
BBG Chairman Jeff Shell and BBG members Michael Meehan and Susan McCue thanked Kevin Klose for agreeing to take the job in early 2013. All said that Kevin rescued RFE/RL from a major management crisis.
Susan McCue said at today’s BBG meeting:
“RFE/RL, as the Chairman said, that ship was in a bad way, and you righted it. And now it’s on a good course, and you set that course.”
Former BBG member Victor Ashe, who was a strong supporter of Kevin Klose and his reforms, released a statement on his announced departure from RFE/RL.
“Kevin Klose rescued Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from the dark days of the prior administration which almost caused a meltdown in the Moscow office and Prague as well. His contributions will be deeply appreciated. I wish him the best and urge the Board to move quickly for a strong transition.” Ashe said.
Ted Lipien, former Voice of America acting associate director and current director of the independent Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) told BBG Watch that Klose was instrumental in saving Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty from a devastating management crisis and in restoring RFE/RL’s reputation and effectiveness. His departure represents a great loss and a significant challenge for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Lipien said, but added that he hopes the BBG under Chairman Shell will chose a good successor and continue reforms among all BBG entities, particularly at the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, DC.
Kevin Klose’s decision shortly after he came onboard to rehire some of the Radio Liberty journalists in Russia who were unjustly dismissed by the previous RFE/RL management was welcomed by many media freedom and human rights activists and organizations.
RFE/RL Press Release
February 25, 2014
At the request of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Klose returned to RFE/RL in January 2013 after previously serving as its president from 1994 to 1997. In his most recent tenure, Klose oversaw the revitalization of RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Radio Svoboda and its Moscow bureau; strengthening of the company’s multimedia platforms and programming; and, most recently, the Ukrainian Service‘s outstanding coverage of Kyiv’s Euromaidan protests.
“Having achieved what the BBG asked me to do, it’s time to move aside and take up the other part of my life,” Klose said, adding that he plans to work “as an independent person steeped in journalism in the pursuit of a wider public engagement of the importance of the work we and our colleagues in U.S. international media do.”
“Words are inadequate to express how sad we are to see Kevin leave,” said RFE/RL’s Editor-in-Chief Nenad Pejic. “He pushed us to the next level, and raised the bar of our professionalism. He stood for us whenever we needed it and we responded by making our content better, sharper, more attractive.”
Klose is a tenured professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, where he served as dean of the journalism college from 2009 to 2012. He also served as president of NPR from 1998 to 2008, directed the International Broadcasting Bureau at the U.S. Information Agency from 1997 to 1998, and was an editor and reporter for “The Washington Post” for 25 years, including stints as Moscow bureau chief, city editor and deputy national editor.