NPR has named former Sesame Workshop chief Gary Knell as its new president and CEO, replacing the controversial Vivian Schiller, the public broadcaster announced on Sunday.
Schiller was pushed out in March, when an underling was caught in a video sting criticizing the Tea Party and Republicans.
Knell is a public broadcasting veteran, having served as CEO of Sesame Street producer Sesame Workshop since 2000. He is credited for expanding the global reach of the Sesame Street children's brand, notably establishing co-production ventures in South Africa, India, Northern Ireland and Egypt.
Gary is an extraordinary leader with extensive experience in public media, programing and education, NPR board of directors chairman Dave Edwards said. As CEO of Sesame Workshop for more than a decade, he has led a large, complex organization through a tumultuous media environment, helping it grow by providing innovative, engaging content in new and creative ways.
Knell will start his new job on December 1.
I'm thrilled to join NPR, Knell added. Over the past 40 years, it's grown from an inspired idea to one of the world's most respected and leading providers of news, music and cultural programing -- both on the air and across ever-expanding digital platforms. This is media with a deeply held mission, compelling history and boundless future.
Schiller was involved in scandal when NPR senior VP of fundraising Ron Schiller (no relation) was caught in a sting set up by conservative troublemaker James O'Keefe. Ron Schiller was seen on video criticizing the GOP and Tea Party to an individual who he thought represented a Muslim group.
Schiller was also criticized a year ago for how she handled the firing of former commentator Juan Williams -- later apologized for it. Williams was abruptly canned for comments he made on the air about Muslims to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. His dismissal was successfully spun by conservative media as an instance of NPR muzzling a conservative voice.
Knell takes the reins as the GOP-led House of Representatives is once again trying to cut NPR's federal funding.
Just last week, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled its latest budget proposal, which includes a provision to prohibit funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) from trickling down to NPR.