WVIK (Quad Cities NPR) has named Jared Johnson as the new station manager, after serving as director of development and community engagement for the public radio station.
Jay Pearce continues to serve as CEO and General Manager.
“As we were worked with Public Media Company to strategize WVIK’s future, the need for someone to manage our finances and direct execution of our operational plan was emphasized,” Pearce said in a Thursday release. “Jared has demonstrated his ability to develop impactful partnerships and enhance revenue streams.
“And, through ongoing professional development, he has contributed significantly to our programming and audience development efforts on the air and through our growing portfolio of podcasts,” he said.
Originally hired as the director of corporate support and marketing in 2014, Johnson grew income from local corporate sponsors by over 50% during his four years in that role. In the 2018 fiscal year, he was promoted to director of development and community engagement, where he continued to oversee significant growth in local revenue.
Of particular importance, over the past four years, Johnson has helped to raise $366,000 toward WVIK’s ongoing Campaign for the Future, an initiative aimed at increasing digital services and the launching WVIK’s second broadcast signal in the Quad Cities (105.7 FM), the station release said.
Johnson has also forged relationships with outside organizations to launch podcasts aimed at younger audiences, including A Real Piece of Work (Junior Achievement) and LOVE Girls: The Podcast (LOVE Girls Magazine).
Johnson was instrumental in launching WVIK’s annual Intelligent Conversation starting in 2018, an event that has brought luminaries such as Krista Tippett and Nicholas Kristof to the RiverCenter in Davenport. This year’s Intelligent Conversation featuring Michele Norris, Washington Post correspondent and former host of All Things Considered, is scheduled to take place on March 10, 2022.
This event was originally scheduled for March 2020, but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the intervening year, Johnson had the opportunity to help develop and produce Hidden Conversations with Dr. LaDrina Willson of Iman Consulting, Tracy Singleton with the Lincoln Resource Center, Dr. Lauren Hammond-Ford with Augustana College, and Ryan Saddler with Saint Ambrose University.
“Jared has an appreciation for all that is vital and necessary about having a strong public radio presence in a community,” said Steven Bahls, president of Augustana College, WVIK’s license holder. “To this, Jared adds a keen understanding of how community engagement can make or break the mission of Quad Cities’ public radio station. I’m grateful that a position of this importance has attracted a leader of Jared’s ability.”
Prior to his time at WVIK, Johnson served eight years as marketing director for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. During his time with the QCSO, Johnson was able to participate in the hiring of music director Mark Russell Smith, oversee a period marked by growth in ticket sales, and help develop a strategy that included increased live concert offerings and youth educational services.
During his time at the QCSO, he helped launch and administered the Signature Series (now Up Close) in cooperation with concertmaster and then-series artistic director Naha Greenholtz. A couple highlights from his tenure included the sold out Music of Led Zeppelin show at the Adler and the record-setting ABBA the Concert at the Quad City Bank and Trust Riverfront Pops, the release said.
Johnson is particularly fond of the role he played in the 2012 Britten Peace Project, a months-long, community-wide initiative that brought together over a dozen local organizations including the Putnam Museum, Figge Art Museum, Rock Island Arsenal Museum, and American Red Cross of the Quad Cities, and culminated in the anniversary performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, led by Mark Russell Smith and featuring hundreds of musicians from all around the world.
“I’ve spent 16 years working in the Quad Cities’ arts community and I’m honored to have this opportunity to work at such an important institution, right here in my hometown,” said Johnson. “Beyond the arts partnerships and classical music that WVIK is known for, I was so proud to see us step up to all the challenges that came with 2020 — the flood, the pandemic, the local calls for police reform, and even that derecho.
“WVIK was reporting through it all, providing the kind of reliable information and analysis our community needed during those crises, many of which are still unfolding. I’m excited to see how much more we can do for the Quad Cities,” he said.
WVIK provides news and classical music 24-hours-a-day to the QC and surrounding community in northwestern Illinois and northeastern Iowa. The primary signal is broadcast at 90.3 FM in the QC area and at 95.9 FM in Dubuque.
General manager to retire at end of 2022
Station general manager Jay Pearce still plans to retire at the end of December 2022. He said Thursday that WVIK has never had a station manager (as larger public radio stations commonly do), but it was vital now since former finance and membership director Colleen Sibthorp left the station last month and moved to Michigan.
Johnson will take on her finance duties and day-to-day management of the station, while Pearce will focus on the bigger picture, a digital transformation, and return to hosting on air weekday mornings.
WVIK is among 40 public radio stations nationwide to be part of a Corporation for Public Broadcasting initiative to improve the digital tools — including websites, social media, apps, and podcasting. There are also digital revenue opportunities that must be capitalized on, Pearce said.
“We haven’t had a coordinated plan with that,” he said of digital, which has grown significantly under Johnson. That transformation project is aimed to be complete by October, Pearce said.
“Jared has really been taking the lead on getting more podcasts up and running, things that a traditional development director wouldn’t do,” he said. “We have been all wearing many hats. Before I retire, I’d like to tidy up the organizational chart.”
The station will do a national search for Johnson’s former position, Pearce said.
WVIK’s HD2 signal is available to all those with an HD Radio and also at 105.7 FM in the Quad Cities. All of WVIK’s broadcast offerings and more are available online and on demand at WVIK.org, on the WVIK app, and by accessing WVIK on Alexa empowered devices. WVIK also operates the Augustana Public Radio Information Service (APRIS), a service that reads local newspapers over a special radio signal and online. WVIK is a public service of Augustana College in Rock Island.