Sarah Karp, the renowned journalist whose investigative work led to the federal indictment of Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, has been hired as a reporter at Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5.
Karp, who most recently has been senior investigator at the Better Government Association, will join the education reporting team at WBEZ February 29.
Calling her "a remarkable journalist and one of the most forceful investigative reporters in Chicago," Ben Calhoun, vice president of content and programming at Chicago Public Media, said in announcing Karp's hiring: “It goes without saying that the trajectory of her work aligns with the grain of our mission.”
Karp fills one of several vacancies in the WBEZ newsroom since Rob Wilderboer was promoted to senior editor of news, and Lynette Kalsnes resigned to move to Minneapolis, where she is communications coordinator for American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees of Minnesota.
As a reporter for Catalyst Chicago, Karp uncovered a $23 million bribery scheme involving Byrd-Bennett and a principal training academy. Last October Byrd-Bennett was indicted on federal corruption charges and pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and kickbacks to steer no-bid contracts to her former associates.
A Chicago native and graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Karp previously worked for the Chicago Reporter and the Daily Southtown.
“So excited that I am going to get to work with so many great people... it is going to be FUN…” Karp tweeted Thursday. “Actually a big draw of going to WBEZ was wanting to go to meetings, hearings and to dive into the daily stuff…”
Among her accolades, Karp was named winner of a 2016 Studs Terkel Community Media Award. Presented by Public Narrative, the awards cite excellence in covering Chicago’s diverse communities. She and this year's four other recipients will be honored April 7.
Here is the text of Calhoun’s memo to WBEZ staff:
I’m really excited to share another round of great news about our reporting staff.
In a few weeks, Sarah Karp will be joining WBEZ.
Sarah – who’s known to a lot of folks in the building – is a remarkable journalist, and one of the most forceful investigative reporters in Chicago.
Her work started a cascade of events that ended with the federal indictment of Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She was Becky Vevea’s partner in crime on last year’s graduation rate reporting – reporting that lead CPS to admit its rates were inflated, and adjust them.
Sarah’s work prior to now – at the Daily Southtown, the Chicago Reporter, Catalyst, and the Better Government Association – is a long arc of awards, substance and impact.
Sarah, and those who work with her, know that she is thoughtful, determined, and exceptionally talented. It goes without saying that the trajectory of her work aligns with the grain of our mission.
For all of these reasons, we could not be more excited about her joining WBEZ, or about the work that she will do here as a journalist. Just personally, I’m thrilled for us.
Sarah’s first day will be Monday February 29th.