Published : Thursday, January 24, 2019 | 7:21 PM
SCPR, owner of KPCC radio station, said the one-time chief of the Nickelodeon channel and BBC Worldwide North America will begin his turn at the tiller of the nonprofit broadcaster in February.
SCPR’s board of directors voted Jan. 24 for Scannell to succeed Bill Davis, who is stepping down after 18 years, according to the ensuing press statement.
SCPR also operates the news site LAist. KPCC used to broadcast from the campus of Pasadena City College. In Feb. 2010, the station moved to a new 35,000-square-foot facility in a converted office building at 474 S. Raymond Avenue named the Mohn Broadcast Center and Crawford Family Forum.
Scannell takes over newsroom with an annual budget of nearly $33 million, about 155 employees, and an audience of nearly one million.
“I began my career in radio, and I couldn’t think of a better time, place or city to return to this medium I love,” Scannell said in the statement. “We’re experiencing an audio renaissance. Podcasts are blossoming and local public radio is filling a journalistic void left by the diminishing number of local newspapers. At the same time technology is changing the game with the emergence of smart speakers and, very soon, smart cars. California and Los Angeles are the hub of both culture and innovation, and what happens here matters everywhere.”
In his new role, Scannell, 62, will become one of the most prominent executives of color in public media. Of Puerto Rican and Irish descent, he has expressed his pride in launching programming at Nickelodeon in the 2000′s featuring characters of color such as Dora the Explorer and the Brothers García.
“We are incredibly excited that Herb will lead SCPR through its next period of innovation and growth,” SCPR Board Chair Ana Valdez said. “Herb has the perfect mix of media experience and commitment to public service journalism. And through his Puerto Rican heritage, he brings a very deep and personal understanding of the power of diversity and the importance of authentically representing the audience we serve.”
Valdez noted that Bill Davis will continue his relationship with SCPR as President Emeritus.
Scannell plans to widen KPCC’s foray into podcasts, noting that Hollywood is in the station’s backyard. He utilized the technique while on the board of New York Public Radio.
A New York native, he had, until September 2017, only lived on the East Coast. He moved to Los Angeles to take a job as CEO of Mitu?, a digital media brand for Latino millennials, which also produced shows for Netflix and Comcast.
After a little more than a year at Mitu?, he stepped down because the outfit wasn’t able to capitalize his vision of a diversified media company, after the manner of Def Jam with the African-American demographic
The KPCC/LAist newsroom, located at SCPR headquarters, has won more local, regional and national awards than any other broadcast news station – commercial or public – in Los Angeles. It is also one of the most diverse news organizations in the country, with more than 50 percent of its journalists being people of color.
One in five KPCC listeners is Latino, and more than 40 percent of the station’s weekly audience are people of color.
LAist has added a digital audience that now totals 800,000. Current memberships at SCPR are also at an all-time high of 73,196 members. SCPR’s revenues for 2019 are projected to reach a record $32.5 million.
Former SCPR Chair and long-time media analyst Gordon Crawford said Scannell’s leadership at NYPR was an important factor in the Board’s decision.
“Herb Scannell’s executive media experience speaks for itself,” Crawford said. “Herb’s combination of executive leadership, understanding of non-profit governance and track record of building audiences and brands makes him singularly qualified to fulfill SCPR’s strategic ambitions.”
SCPR did not state Scannell’s compensation, although tax forms show that the current CEO’s compensation package is approximately $476,600.