Chicago Public Media hires Andi McDaniel as new CEO of WBEZ, Vocalo

Andi McDaniel (Photo: Jeffrey Watts, American University)

Andi McDaniel, an innovative public-radio executive who grew up in Schaumburg, is coming home to take on the top job at Chicago Public Media, parent company of NPR news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM.

Culminating a seven-month search, McDaniel, 39, was hired Tuesday as president and CEO of Chicago Public Media. Since 2015 she has been chief content officer at WAMU, the NPR station at American University in Washington, D.C., where she developed the widely syndicated show “1A.”

As head of WBEZ and urban music alternative Vocalo, McDaniel will succeed Goli Sheikholeslami, who resigned last summer to become CEO of New York Public Radio, parent company of WNYC.

McDaniel is expected to start here September 28, following the birth of her first child and maternity leave. Until then, Steve Edwards, vice president and chief content officer for WBEZ, will continue to serve as interim CEO.

WBEZ

In announcing the appointment, Bryan Traubert, chair of Chicago Public Media’s board of directors, said: “The board is unanimous in its belief that Andi is the right person to lead Chicago Public Media as we continue to deliver high-quality, in-depth journalism and innovative original programming.”

The change of leadership comes as WBEZ is experiencing record-high ratings during the coronavirus pandemic. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey the station ranked fourth overall with a 5.4 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 462,400. Among listeners between 25 and 54, WBEZ ranked first.

“There has never been a more critical moment for public media and local journalism,” McDaniel said. “I’m inspired by WBEZ’s creative and journalistic legacy and can’t wait to make it an even more essential part of the daily lives of Chicagoans.”

McDaniel, whose family still lives in Schaumburg, holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a master’s degree from the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining WAMU, she was director of content strategy and innovation for Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her first job in public radio was at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska.

As creator of “1A,” McDaniel replaced the long-running media program “The Diane Rehm Show” with a bona fide hit that now airs on more than 375 stations and reaches 4 million listeners a week. Earlier this month WBEZ midday host Jenn White was named host of “1A,” starting July 6.

McDaniel also spearheaded acquisition of the hyperlocal news site DCist, which draws nearly 2 million visits monthly.

“I couldn’t be more pleased by Andi’s selection as our next president and CEO,” said Edwards, who will return to his role as vice president and chief content officer. “She’s the ideal person to lead our organization as we seek to create meaningful connections among younger, more diverse audiences across audio and digital platforms.”