Nico Leone, KCUR’s general manager for more than seven years, will leave the station at the end of the year to take the helm of KERA in Dallas.
Since joining KCUR in 2012, Leone has led Kansas City’s NPR station through a period of exceptional growth in audience, staff size and recognition among the nation’s public media stations.
Under Leone’s leadership, the newsroom staff more than doubled, KCUR’s share of radio listening grew by 35% and the station’s digital audience grew more than 300%.
“I am incredibly proud of the staff and the work we have been able to do together,” Leone said. “KCUR has incredible momentum and tremendous opportunities. I’m confident things will continue to move forward.”
Leone joins KERA in Dallas early next year as President and CEO. As KERA’s top executive, Leone will oversee their NPR, PBS and music stations.
Community engagement, collaborative journalism and fundraising were the hallmarks of Leone’s tenure at KCUR. He understood the value of engaging with KCUR’s audience, and created an audience development team to focus on new ways to reach new listeners. These efforts have strengthened community relationships and increased diversity in sources and voices on the air.
Leone helped develop KCUR’s reputation throughout the NPR system as an effective collaborator, attracting major grant support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other funders. Most recently, KCUR was awarded $1.9 million for a nationwide project on the 2020 election, and remains the lead partner in Harvest Public Media and the Kansas News Service.
During Leone’s tenure, the station’s budget doubled as he elevated KCUR’s reputation as a major civic institution. He expanded the station’s development portfolio with major giving and planned giving programs for KCUR supporters and by strengthening relationships with area foundations. In 2016, the station launched a benefit event—RadioActive—which now draws more than 1,000 guests and raises more than $450,000 annually in station support.
In 2017, Leone was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of NPR, following in the footsteps of his predecessor at KCUR, Patty Cahill, who also served on the NPR Board and now is a member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Sarah Morris, who oversees KCUR’s operations for the University of Missouri-Kansas City, praised Leone for attracting talented and hard-working staff to help grow and strengthen KCUR’s local journalism.
“We couldn’t be happier for Nico,” said Morris, who hired Leone in 2012. “This position is a phenomenal opportunity and is a testament of the work KCUR has done over the last several years.”
Morris says the future is bright for KCUR and she can’t wait to see what is ahead for the station.