Jarl Mohn Headshot

WOUB Member Spotlight: Former NPR CEO Jarl Mohn

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Mohn became a member of WOUB and all NPR member stations in December 2021

ATHENS, OH – When Jarl Mohn, former NPR CEO, decided to become a member of the 250+ NPR member stations for his 70th birthday, he “never anticipated” the joy that would come from it and what he would learn about NPR member stations large and small. Mohn donated $1000 to each station, including WOUB Public Media, in December of 2021.

“This was better and more rewarding than I expected. I heard from old friends and got lovely notes back from station employees I had never met before. It has been fantastic,” said Mohn. “One of the things I learned was that every station appreciates the donation, but for smaller stations, like WOUB, it means a little more. The smaller the station the more relevant the donation was.”

Mohn only made one request with his donation. He asked that each station send him a coffee mug with their station logo on it.

“The mugs have been so much fun,” said Mohn. “I kind of expected the big, financially secure stations to have better mugs. But it was quite the opposite. The smaller stations had creative mugs. Some were made by local artists. That is really the embodiment of what public radio is all about.”

But there was one unanticipated consequence of Mohn’s decision to become a member of every NPR member station.

“I never thought this part through. I didn’t think about the amount of mail I would get,” said Mohn laughing. “I get emails and traditional mail from more than 250 member stations constantly. I get their magazines. I’m buried in it.”

Mohn says he doesn’t have the time to read everything he gets from all the stations, but he already knows how important each station is to each community it serves.

“So much of what passes for news these days isn’t really news. It is current events as entertainment. NPR is unique in its coverage of what’s happening in the country and world, and the member stations do a great job of providing local and regional news,” said Mohn. “Having free access to NPR over the air or online means so much to small communities without resources. It’s a great source of local information. The smaller the town the more important the station.”

Now Mohn and his wife are trying to figure out what to do with all of those coffee mugs. They are working on building custom shelves in their Brentwood, California home to put them on display. He also is trying to figure out what happens when his memberships expire in December of 2022.

“When I first came up with this idea and called NPR Vice President for Member Partnership Gemma Hooley, she asked if I planned to become a sustaining member of each station,” said Mohn with a chuckle. “I don’t know about that. But we will have to see what the future holds.”