A conversation with incoming NPR CEO Jarl Mohn

Jarl Mohn speaks onstage at the International Medical Corps Annual Awards Celebration at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 8, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for International Medical Corps)

An old friend and colleague John Rabe, who flew the Minnesota Public Radio coop for southern California’s KPCC at the turn of the century, sat down recently with incoming NPR president and CEO Jarl Mohn.

Mohn, a venture capitalist known for innovation, has served on the board of trustees of KPCC’s parent, Southern California Public Radio, since 2002, and has given close to $7 million to SCPR. The Mohn Broadcast Center in Pasadena is named for him.

In an interview for Rabe’s radio program “Off-Ramp,” Mohn talked about his upbringing, his work in commercial radio and television, his time at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and his plans for NPR.

Mohn says he’ll apply his commercial media expertise to help NPR sell more of its underwriting inventory (what would be commercials in the commercial world) and get a much better price for underwriting.

“I’m really lucky in that almost everything else I’ve done in my career I’ve had to go into something where there was a massive problem with the product, and with NPR the programming is spectacular,” said Mohn. “It’s the business part of the business that needs the help.”

Mohn starts work as NPR president and CEO next week.