NPR senior producer Alicia Montgomery will join WAMU as its editorial director, news and content honcho Andi McDaniel told staff in an email Thursday. Montgomery was the senior supervising producer of NPR’s Code Switch project and was part of the network’s sourcing diversity project, which aimed to change the mix of people heard on NPR. She also worked on Tell Me More with Michel Martin, a show that ended in 2014, and was the top editor for Martin’s “Going There” event series.
At WAMU, Montgomery will oversee the reorganized newsroom, which announced in March a plan to do away with geography-based beats. “It became clear early on in our conversations with Alicia that she is a top-notch editor, a calm and collaborative leader, an innovative thinker, and a 5th generation Washingtonian with a passion for coverage of the region she has called home,” McDaniel writes in her memo.
WAMU has been adding staff in service of its new direction–Kelsey Proud from St. Louis Public Radio will be its managing editor for digital, and it’s added Carmel Delshad from AJ+ as its All Things Considered producer and Mikaela Lefrak as its Morning Edition producer. Reached by phone, McDaniel said there are four positions open in the newsroom–two desk editors and two reporters, one of whom will replace education reporter Kavitha Cardoza, who left for PBS NewsHour this summer. McDaniel wants Montgomery to fill those jobs.
“We wanted somebody who had strong news chops, who knows hands-on editing, who has many years of management experience, and is a proven and beloved leader,” McDaniel says of Montgomery, describing her as a “unicorn” and “five different categories of awesome.” Noting Code Switch’s successful podcast launch, McDaniel also says “it was crucial in this hire that we found someone who could think of our regional news coverage across a lot of different platforms.”
Montgomery will start at WAMU on October 3.