Thomas Hjelm will be NPR’s new digital chief

Thomas Hjelm will be NPR’s new digital chief

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NPR announced on Thursday the creation of a new role responsible for overseeing the public radio network’s digital operations…

The NPR headquarters on North Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo by Charles Dharapak)

NPR announced on Thursday the creation of a new role responsible for overseeing the public radio network's digital operations.

Thomas Hjelm, the executive vice president and chief digital officer of New York Public Radio, will be chief digital officer at NPR, responsible for infusing digital innovation across its various divisions.

Hjelm replaces Zach Brand, currently vice president of digital media and digital services at NPR, as NPR's top digital officer. He will have a broader mandate than his predecessor, a wider portfolio and expanded decision-making authority. Brand is leaving NPR.

In a statement, NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn touted Hjelm's experience at New York Public Radio, where he steered the development of "a range of new digital products" for the nonprofit's public radio stations.

Tom is joining an organization that continues to innovate across all that we do. He joins an excellent leadership team that has demonstrated a deep commitment to strengthening public service journalism and growing audiences. To further these goals and to solidify our partnership with our Member stations, I wanted someone who had proven digital leadership and direct public radio station experience; Tom exemplifies both. He is ideally suited to help us pursue an integrated strategy that reaches and engages audiences in new ways across a fast-changing landscape of digital platforms.

By appointing a digital boss with an expanded portfolio, NPR hopes to spur digital innovation across a multiplicity of digital platforms, according to a company spokesperson. The appointment comes as NPR works to expand its digital offerings, especially in the rapidly growing realm of podcasting.

The last executive to have broad authority over NPR's digital efforts was former chief content officer Kinsey Wilson, who was pushed out of the public radio network in a remaking of its executive ranks. Hjelm's role will differ from Wilson's in that he will not be directly involved in newsroom or programming decisions.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated NPR's announcement was issued Monday. A previous version of this story also credited Hjelm with overseeing the creation of WNYC Studios. The overseer for that project is New York Public Radio Chief Creative Officer Dean Cappello.

Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics. He's also reported for USA TODAY College and The Sacramento Bee, and he was editor in chief of The Orion, Chico State's student-run newspaper. An Air Force brat who grew up around Northern California, he's still adjusting to the Florida sunshine.

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