Schardt Steps Down

AIR opens search for new CEO to lead growing talent network


For release: August 9, 2018

Boston: AIR president and KCRW CEO Jennifer Ferro announced today that a search is underway to find a successor to AIR’s outgoing CEO Sue Schardt, who has announced her decision to step down from the organization as of August 9, 2018. Luis Perez, Vice Chair of the AIR Board will serve as executive liaison overseeing operations until a successor is found.

Ferro commented, “We are grateful for Sue’s service and leadership, and for the strong foundation we now have in place for AIR’s next chapter.”

“It’s been an incredible journey and I’m so proud of the many mission-focused producers and partners I’ve had the privilege to work with,” said Schardt. “While my work at AIR is complete, I remain committed to supporting those focused on expanding and diversifying public media service across the country.”

Schardt assumed leadership of AIR in 2007. Since that time, AIR has achieved unprecedented growth and diversification. With a producer network that has more than doubled in size, AIR forms a unique nexus of creative makers. AIR’s network includes award-winning talent working independently, at public media stations, and at national organizations, including NPR, APM, PRI, PRX, and leading podcast outfits.

AIR’s signature work, Localore, launched under Schardt’s stewardship in 2010. Over multiple iterations, including Finding America and #LocaloreLIVE, the production has served as a powerful model for effective systems change within public media. Localore has formed a rich, collaborative network of gifted, mission- focused media talent working with people in communities across the country. Localore has achieved industry-wide recognition for its excellence, including a Peabody nomination and multiple national and regional awards from organizations such as AP Regional Awards, Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, SPJ, Gabriel Awards, and ONA. AIR’s most recent Localore publication, Break Form: Making Stories With And For The People, designed to share best practices from the Localore field, has been distributed to more than 10,000 media professionals across the U.S.

Schardt also spearheaded the launch of AIR’s New Voices Scholarship program in 2009, to identify and cultivate a diverse roster of early-career talent to help programs, stations, and networks connect with more ears, homes, and corners of America. The scholarship provides bold, new talent with coaching, professional development support, and structured networking with leaders in the industry. The New Voices alumni network is currently more than 175 journalists strong.

AIR celebrates its 30th anniversary year with a growing network of mission-focused talent integral to public broadcasting and America’s growing podcasting and streaming audio industry. More than 1,300 journalists, podcasters, documentarians, technicians, and media entrepreneurs forming AIR’s creative community span 46 states and 30 countries worldwide. AIR’s recruitment and mentoring programs and its national productions enrich and expand the ecosystem where storymakers create work that brings hope and enlightenment, with the power to embolden and unify.