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(Boston) – H. Joseph O’Connor, Jr., an Emmy award-winning “Nightline” producer and the current senior producer of WBUR/National Public Radio’s “On Point,” was today named general manager of WRNI-AM (1290)/WXNI-AM (1230), The WBUR Group-owned station in Providence, announced Peter Fiedler, vice president for Administrative Services at Boston University (BU). BU is the license holder of The WBUR Group stations.
O’Connor, 48, who began his broadcasting career in 1980 at CNN and won five Emmys during 16 years as a producer at ABC’s “Nightline,” assumes control of the Rhode Island NPR station on May 15. He reports to Paul La Camera, head of The WBUR Group.
“Joe O’Connor’s 26 years of stellar broadcast experience made him the unanimous choice for this position,” said Fiedler who headed the search committee. “His profound understanding of in-depth news reporting and his extensive staff management expertise are the qualities needed to re-vitalize the station and to ensure its growth. His hire reflects our long-term commitment to our Rhode Island listeners.”
The search committee, which retained the Boston office of executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International, consisted of Eugene Mihaly, chairman of the Foundation for Ocean State Public Radio (FOSPR); Rhode Island resident and Brown University grad Elizabeth Cheng, vice president of WCVB-TV and a member of the Executive Advisory Council of The WBUR Group; La Camera, general manager of The WBUR Group; and Fiedler, who also serves as chairman of the Executive Advisory Council of The WBUR Group.
“Joe brings a record of deep accomplishment in serious broadcast journalism,” said Mihaly. “He also possesses the ideas, the energy, the values and the commitment to realize WRNI’s potential to be a strong and vital voice in and for Rhode Island. It was that potential that brought together and energized a number of Rhode Islanders in 1996 to organize FOSPR to bring public radio to the state. We eagerly look forward to collaborating with Joe and supporting his efforts.”
After CNN, O’Connor served as a writer for ABC News Radio, and then joined “Good Morning America” as an associate producer. After GMA, he began his first stint as a producer at “Nightline,” winning three Emmys during seven years. After two years as a producer at “Primetime Live,” and two years as a senior producer at “World News Tonight,” O’Connor returned to “Nightline,” winning two more Emmys, one for a series on race entitled “America in Black and White.”
O’Connor was selected as a Nieman Fellow and studied at Harvard University during the year prior to joining WBUR as senior producer for NPR’s “On Point,” one of two, WBUR-produced daily programs broadcast live and distributed throughout the nation to 70 NPR-member stations. A native of the Washington, D.C. area, he earned a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and an M.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University.
“I am honored to have been chosen as the station’s new general manager,” said O’Connor. “I have always believed public radio provides news and information with the highest standards of integrity and, as such, provides a valuable public service to the audiences and communities it serves.
“The station’s staff deserves much credit for establishing that record of service in Rhode Island and I can’t wait to join them in furthering that work. My family and I also look forward to becoming part of the Providence community.”
WRNI-AM, acquired by WBUR in 1998, won the prestigious regional “News Station of the Year” award from the Associated Press in 2003 and 2004. Its sister station, WXNI-AM, was acquired in 1999. Combined, the station serves Greater Providence, Fall River, Narragansett Bay, southwestern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut.
One of New England’s leading sources of news and information, WBUR is owned and operated by Boston University and is a member of National Public Radio. WBUR also broadcasts a selection of BBC programs and locally produced programs such as “Here & Now,” “On Point,” “Only a Game,” and “Car Talk.” WBUR has won more than 100 major awards for its news coverage, including several George Foster Peabody Awards, and was named the Associated Press News Station of the year for 2004.