William Hugh Kling

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William Hugh Kling (born April 29, 1942) is an American businessman who created Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and American Public Media. He was also a founding Board Director of National Public Radio and the founding Chairman and president of Public Radio International.[1] Kling is a social media entrepreneur who built both successful non-profit public media companies and for profit companies to support those non-profits. He is currently President Emeritus, American Public Media and offices in the IDS Tower in Minneapolis.


Kling holds a BA in Economics from Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota and an MS from the Graduate School of Communications at Boston University. In 1964, Kling was asked by Saint John's University (where he had just earned his baccalaureate in economics) to attend graduate school in mass communications at Boston University and return to build a radio station. That station became the first in a series of 44 public radio stations ranging from Minnesota to Los Angeles and Miami. Kling is the recipient of honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Saint John's University (2011) and The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota (2013). In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


The first station, KSJR FM, went on the air in January, 1967, and was later spun off into a separate nonprofit community corporation (MPR), of which Kling was the founding president. Over the years, he helped lead the station to grow into a statewide network in Minnesota while building similar networks in California and Florida. He was a founding director of NPR and in 1983 he created a nationwide public radio distribution arm (American Public Media (APM)).

Kling served as President and CEO of American Public Media Group (APMG) until June 2011. APMG is the nonprofit parent support organization of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), Southern California Public Radio (SCPR), Classical South Florida (CSF) and American Public Media (APM) and is the sole shareholder of the for-profit Greenspring Company. Kling also served as CEO of MPR|APM and of Greenspring Company and Vice Chair of SCPR and CSF.

As president of MPR|APM, Kling was responsible for MPR’s three regional networks of thirty-eight public radio stations (serving 5 million people in the Minnesota region) and its national program production centers in Saint Paul, New York and Los Angeles. American Public Media is the second largest national producer of public radio programming, following National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington. Southern California Public Radio, which Kling serves as Vice Chair, operates radio stations KPCC (Pasadena) and KUOR (Redlands) under public service operating agreements with their respective licensees. SCPR serves a population of 14 million people in the Los Angeles area. Classical South Florida owns and operates public radio stations in Miami, Palm Beach and Naples Florida. Greenspring, which Kling served as president until 2011, is the parent company for Greenspring Media Group, a diversified regional and national magazine publishing and event management company. In 1998, Greenspring sold another subsidiary, Rivertown Trading Company, to the Target Corporation for $134 million.

Kling's tactics have come under fire as being aggressive. MPR, for example, bought rival classical-programming public radio station WCAL in Northfield, Minnesota when its owner, St Olaf College offered it for sale in 2004, eliminating a competitor for donor funds and switching the station's format to a widely successful alternative rock format hailed by younger Minnesotans. [1]

On Sept. 10, 2010, Kling announced that he was retiring as president of APMG and MPR as of June 2011. He intends to lead a national fundraising effort to improve public media reporting strength and newsgathering capability in his role as President Emeritus of American Public Media. [2]

Both the Minneapolis StarTribune, and The St Paul PioneerPress listed Kling as one of 100 most significant Minnesotans of the Century in 2000.

In an article on Kling's planned departure noted that he received $654,338 from APM in fiscal year 2009 -- "a tidy sum by nonprofit radio standards, and one that puts him on par with the chief executives of major Minnesota companies. Arctic Cat's CEO, for instance, made $566,157 last year."[2]

Minnesota Public Radio named its headquarters after him.[2]

Other business ventures[edit]

Kling is also co-founder and director of Skyword, Inc. (formerly Gather, Inc.) [3], a web-based, user-driven media venture operating in Boston.

From 1989-2005, Kling served as a director of Travelers Inc, a publicly held insurance company. He is also a director of the privately held Wenger Corporation, which designs and builds music related equipment and systems and is located in Owatonna, Minnesota.

Kling serves as a director of ten fund boards of the Los Angeles based American Funds mutual fund family, all of which are managed by the Capital Group. These include The New Economy Fund, Smallcap World Fund, AMCAP, AMF, ICA, Global Balanced Fund, American Balanced Fund, The New Perspective Fund, The Euro Pacific Growth Fund and the New World Fund. He has served as non-executive chair of The New Economy Fund and The Smallcap World Fund.

Kling is a member of the Board of Trustees for St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Kling is a former member and chair of the Board of Trustees of The Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, which is owned by MPR. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the JL Foundation in Los Angeles. He was an incorporator and founding Director of National Public Radio and the founding Chair and President of Public Radio International, which was formed as a subsidiary of MPR in 1983 and later spun off to independence. It is now owned by WGBH in Boston.

In 2004, he was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcaster's Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ Adelson, Andrea (April 5, 1999). "The Business of National Public Radio". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-24. Begun in 1966 by William H. Kling at a small, troubled college station, the St. Paul-based organization is now a $100 million, seven-state media empire (Minnesota, California, Florida, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan) of 46 stations with a $170 million endowment. 
  2. ^ MPR News Staff (April 13, 2017). "MPR names St. Paul headquarters for founder Bill Kling". Minnesota Public Radio. St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved April 13, 2017.