NPR has recruited Collin Campbell, a 20-year audio executive, to run its podcast division. Most recently Executive Editor for New Show Development at podcast studio Gimlet Media, Campbell fills a vacancy created by the impending departure of Anya Grundmann, a 30-year NPR vet who is leaving at the end of the year after heading programming and podcasting for the public radio network.
As Senior VP of Podcasting Strategy and Franchise Development, Campbell will report to interim Chief Content Officer Edith Chapin. Based at NPR West in Culver City, he starts this month.
“Podcasting is a natural way for NPR to tell stories with depth and character in addition to explanatory journalism,” Chapin said in a news release. “Collin brings the mix of journalism and podcasting experience that will build on NPR’s groundbreaking work with podcasts and refine our work for the ever changing media landscape.”
Campbell arrives at a time of significant change at NPR. Its News and Programming divisions were folded into a single Content Division as part of a sweeping programming restructure in September, which prompted the exit of Senior VP of News and Editorial Director Nancy Barnes. The new unified division is being run, for now, by Chapin while the pubcaster conducts a national search to permanently fill the role.
NPR earlier cancelled four podcasts, including the benchmark Invisibilia, as part of an effort to close a $30 million budget shortfall.
In its own coverage of Campbell’s appointment, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik noted that it “underscores the moment as one of rapid shifts among the network's executive ranks and heightened competition for both podcast listeners and advertisers. NPR has been an innovative force in podcasting but has seen its leading status ebb with a flurry of entrants into the industry.”
At Gimlet, Campbell led the process of producing new shows and is credited with helping to create several successful limited series, including Conviction (with Peabody winner Habiba Nosheen), Crime Show, Welcome to Your Fantasy, 544 Days (with the Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian) and other projects. Before that he was Executive Producer for Original Content at Amazon’s Audible, where he created a portfolio of on-demand audio shows including Sincerely, X (in partnership with TED), Evil Has a Name, an account of the Golden State Killer case; and Making of a Massacre, an investigative project in collaboration with ProPublica.
“NPR’s role as a home for distinct voices and a defender of democracy is important to me and it will succeed and thrive under a leadership team that knows how to combine mission-driven journalism with a sophisticated understanding of audiences and the business of podcasting. I am excited about this opportunity to help shape that future,” he said in a statement.
Campbell began his career in public radio in 2003 as associate producer for “Morning Edition” at WNYC Broadcasting Foundation news/talk WNYC – AM &FM New York (820, 93.9), where he co-created two national programs which later became major podcasts: “The Takeaway,” which was canceled earlier this year and “Freakonomics Radio.” Later at Southern California Public Radio’s “LAist 89.3” KPCC Los Angeles he led a cross-platform content team that oversaw daily show production, talent, new program development and production staff.