The most powerful woman in Chicago journalism is leaving town after five years for a new job in New York.
In a surprise announcement today, Goli Sheikholeslami said she was resigning as president and chief executive officer of Chicago Public Media, the nonprofit parent company of NPR news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM and urban alternative Vocalo. She will become CEO of New York Public Radio, parent company of WNYC, starting in early October.
“My move to New York is bittersweet, especially when it comes to leaving the talented and dedicated team and board at Chicago Public Media,” Sheikholeslami said.
“I have been exhilarated by the deep and personal connections between public radio audiences and their stations, particularly at WBEZ and Vocalo. I’m happy to remain in the public radio family and look forward to the continued growth and success of both of these integral public radio powerhouses.”
Sheikholeslami, 51, a former Washington Post digital executive, took on the top job at Chicago Public Media in 2014. Under her leadership, WBEZ expanded its news and programming staff from 45 to more than 70, and forged editorial collaborations with numerous media partners.
Credited with helping transform WBEZ into Chicago's premier broadcast and digital news organization, Sheikholeslami earlier this year topped this column's list of the most powerful women in Chicago journalism.
“Local journalism is more critical than ever for strengthening communities and creating a more informed, engaged public," she said at the time. "We play an important role in Chicago for bringing trusted, unbiased news and information to our community, and I’m honored and grateful to be a part of this organization at this time.”
A transition committee of the Chicago Public Media board will begin efforts to designate an interim and permanent CEO, according to board chairman Bryan Traubert.
“While we hate to see Goli leave, we are pleased that her talent and skills will remain in the public radio system,” Traubert said in a statement. “The board has complete confidence in the foundation and leadership team Goli has built, and we anticipate a smooth period of transition.
"Whether they access us over the air, through podcasts or digitally, our audience members can rest assured that WBEZ will continue to play an important role in Chicago for bringing trusted, unbiased news and information to our community and our CPM system will remain strong and vibrant.”
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WBEZ ranked 19th overall with a 2.7 percent audience share.