Laura R. Walker is President and CEO of New York Public Radio, which owns and operates WNYC-FM, WNYC-AM, WQXR,WQXW, New Jersey Public Radio, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space and a variety of digital properties -- including wnyc.org, wqxr.org and thegreenespace.org -- that offer content, culture and news whenever the audience wants them. Its radio stations, digital properties and programming reach 11.5 million people each month on average.
With an emphasis on providing robust multiplatform content, the organization has grown beyond the physical borders of New York. It has developed groundbreaking national programming that has changed the sound of public radio including: Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, On the Media, Studio 360, The Takeaway and Radio Rookies. New York Public Radio produces more than 375 hours of programming each week and it operates a newsroom with 60 journalists. During Ms. Walker’s tenure, New York Public Radio has been honored with seven George Foster Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Awards for its journalistic work.
Under Ms. Walker’s leadership, New York Public Radio completed a $62.9 million capital campaign to finance its new headquarters and ambitious programming initiatives. The new headquarters includes The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, a street-level, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance venue that enables New York Public Radio to engage with the audience in compelling ways. The Greene Space opened in April 2009. In October 2009, WNYC acquired WQXR from The New York Times Company, and continues its long legacy of serving New York as a full-time classical music station. The purchase was supported by a $15 million Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York. Ms. Walker joined the organization in 1996 to oversee the transformation of WNYC from a city-owned agency into an independent non-profit. Her first task was to raise the $20 million necessary to purchase WNYC’s licenses from the City of New York.
In September 2009, Ms. Walker was named one of New York City’s Most Powerful Women by Crain’s New York Business. In October 2008, The Executive Council honored her with a NY Ten Award in the category of Best Media Executive. In July 2008, Ms. Walker was recognized with an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the industry’s highest honor. In October 2007, Ms. Walker was chosen for Crain’s New York’s Business’ special feature on “The 100 Most Influential Women in NYC Business,” and was one of New York Moves magazine’s “Power Women” in 2006. She is also the recipient of Public Radio International’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University.
Ms. Walker began her professional career as a journalist and producer at National Public Radio, where she received a Peabody Award for Broadcast Excellence. In 1983 she joined the staff of Carnegie Hall where she launched the award-winning series AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight. She joined the Sesame Workshop (formerly Children’s Television Workshop) in 1987, where for eight years she worked on programming and development initiatives, and led the organization’s efforts to establish a cable television channel (now Noggin). In addition to the New York Public Radio Board of Trustees, Ms. Walker sits on the boards of Saint Ann’s School, the Women’s Forum, Inc., the Yale Center for Customer Insights, and the Hudson Square Business Improvement District. She is the Chair of the Station Resource Group. Previously, Ms. Walker sat on the Board of Advisors for the Yale School of Management and the Board of Directors for Public Radio International.
Ms. Walker holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA in History, magna cum laude, from Wesleyan University. She resides in Brooklyn Heights with her husband, Bert Wells, and their son and daughter.
On Wednesday, November 13th, Laura Walker, the President and CEO of New York Public Radio spoke about the core values of public radio and progress at the 2013 Public Radio Super-Regional Meeting in Washington, DC. Below is a copy of the remarks, as they were prepared.
July 29, 2013
In 2009, New York Public Radio acquired WQXR from The New York Times Company, preserving one of the city’s finest cultural institutions and New York’s only all-classical music station. As a public radio station, WQXR has thrived by offering the best in classical music programming on the radio, on digital devices and through exclusive live events.
Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that New York Public Radio has acquired a Westchester station that will extend the reach of WQXR in Central and Northern Westchester. As a consequence of the frequency change to 105.9 FM that came with the 2009 acquisition, we could no longer serve parts of Westchester. We’ve been looking for opportunities to restore that service ever since. This acquisition enables us to do just that and to expand even farther.
In recent weeks as our nation watched the George Zimmerman trial unfold and the Supreme Court rule on the Voting Rights Act, issues of race in modern American society and stark reminders of what it means to be black in America have come to the forefront. A continued dialogue about race is essential to fostering understanding, perspective and change. Through the study of history, through difficult discussions about current events and even through cultural exploration, we need to keep the dialogue going any way we can.
Up to speed on all the news this week? Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me has always been one of my favorite programs because it gives the quirkier stories time to shine. This week: Yelp’s reviewing prisons and beer is being delivered by drones! I've seen the show taped before, but it is always a delight to watch it all unfold. Last night, hundreds of WNYC fans attended Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me, filling NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts with laughter. The live performance from New York was shown simultaneously in more than 600 movie theaters across the country, marking the popular quiz show’s LIVE cinematic debut.
New York Public Radio president Laura Walker shares her personal story about Bach in advance of WQXR's Bach 360 Festival.
Everyone has a story to tell about Bach. Here’s mine.
Bach brought me back after 9/11. It was Sunday, September 23, 2001, just twelve days after the terrorist attacks brought down the World Trade Center, killed thousands of people and obliterated all sense of reason and order in our city. I was in my kitchen preparing the first “normal” meal my family would eat together since the tragedy hit. I had been working round-the-clock navigating a city in chaos and filled with raw emotion.
On Monday night, millions of people in the New York region were left in the dark as Superstorm Sandy showed us the full force of her fury. For many of these people, their only lifeline to the world outside their homes and their own experience was a radio -- underscoring the medium’s enduring value in a digital world. It's been our privilege and honor at WNYC, WQXR and New Jersey Public Radio (NJPR) to be on the other side of that radio.
On September 10, 2012, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Veronica White, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Steve Levin and President & CEO of New York Public Radio Laura R. Walker took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening WNYC Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The $12 million redevelopment of WNYC Transmitter Park includes an esplanade for passive recreation, and 1.6-acres of open space to provide residents and visitors with increased access to the Greenpoint waterfront. Laura Walker spoke about the significance of the site during the ceremonies. Below is a transcript of her remarks.
Brian Lehrer has issues and everyone in New York is talking about it. WNYC and its political site itsafreecountry.org launched a new election year project called That’s My Issue. On air, online and via social networks, WNYC is asking our audience to share their personal experiences that shape the issues they care about in this election.
My 12 year-old daughter and I are looking forward to curling up on the sofa to watch the Olympics together. It’s especially exciting because this Olympics is a banner year for women.
This week, the most talked about map in New York City isn’t one that directs tourists to new museum shows or sample sales. It shows where the guns are.
This week, WNYC’s Radiolab comes home to New York under the cover of darkness, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be seen.