NPR Reporter Quits, Hopes It Can ‘Get Its Act Together’

Another public radio journalist departs for something new

NPR and “Planet Money” reporter Stephen Henn is leaving what he calls his “dream job” — and blames declining audiences and his hopes that public radio can “get its act together to make the jump into the digital age.”

In a Medium post announcing his exit, the tech reporter cited findings that NPR is losing listeners under 65. (The same findings say it is gaining in users over 65, and with podcast listeners.)

Henn also said he hopes to build “a new kind of radio.”

“The digital radio I want would make it easier to support great work,” he wrote. “It would help public radio break out of the white, upper-middle class suburb it has created for itself. It would be personalized. It would be global. It would be social and ubiquitous. It would let the audience talk back. My ideal digital radio, it would listen to the audience.”

Several prominent public radio journalists have left in recent years to launch podcasts, most prominently “Serial” host Sarah Koenig, whose hit series helped bring prominence to the medium.

Other well-known public radio journalists-turned-podcasters include “Planet Money” co-founder Alex Blumberg, who launched the podcasting company, Gimlet Media.

His “StartUp” podcast, co-hosted by “Planet Money” vet Lisa Chow, tells the story of their transition from public radio to private enterprise. Gimlet’s “Reply All” and “Mystery Show” podcasts are also led by public media alums.