BBG Watch Commentary

Kevin Klose
Kevin Klose

BBG Watch has learned from multiple sources that newly-confirmed Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members, including the new BBG Chairman Jeff Shell, would like to keep Kevin Klose as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet on Wednesday, August 21, at the BBG headquarters in Washington, D.C. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. It is not known, however, whether the issue of extending Klose’s appointment will be publicly discussed or announced at the Wednesday meeting of the BBG Board. The meeting will be open to the public and streamed online. All BBG members also serve as members of the RFE/RL Corporate Board which would likely make a decision on a possible extension of Klose’s appointment at a separate meeting.

In addition to Chairman Shell, the other new BBG members are Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Matthew C. Armstrong.

This will be the first meeting of the BBG Board since three new appointees joined in early August. The BBG Board meeting agenda includes consideration of meeting dates for the remainder of 2013 and resolutions honoring former board members for their service.

Kevin Klose has been the Acting President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty since January 26. He had been asked to take on the position for up to one year.

BBG Watch has learned that BBG members, including RFE/RL Board Chair Susan McCue, favor keeping Kevin Klose as the head of RFE/RL in recognition of his strong leadership skills and successful reforms he has initiated at the U.S. taxpayer-funded media institution.

When Klose came on board last January, RFE/RL was in the midst of a major crisis caused by the previous management which had fired dozens of Radio Liberty journalists in Russia. Klose rehired some of these reporters and restored high journalistic standards.

Some problems, however, are still unresolved. They include discrimination lawsuits from two former foreign employees and negative media publicity caused by RFE/RL’s personnel practices.

BBG members reportedly agree that RFE/RL needs stability and continuity that Kevin Klose would be able to provide. Sources say that the vast majority of RFE/RL employees sees Klose as a strong and fair executive who has the right vision for the institution’s future and can solve the remaining problems.

Klose was president of NPR from 1998 to 2008, and was named President Emeritus in 2008.  Before joining NPR, he was president of RFE/RL from 1994 to 1997, overseeing its relocation from Munich to Prague. In 1997-98, he directed the International Broadcasting Bureau at the U.S. Information Agency.  Prior to this, he was an editor and reporter for The Washington Post for 25 years, including stints as Moscow bureau chief, city editor and deputy national editor. A tenured professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, Klose served as dean of the journalism college from April 2009 to July 2012.  He will be on leave from his faculty position while serving at RFE/RL.  He earned a B.A. from Harvard and is the author of five books, including Russia and the Russians: Inside the Closed Society.