Starling and Pete Loewenstein, two engineers familiar to Radio World
readers, have left NPR to begin the next chapter of their lives. They
are among employees who opted for a voluntary buyout from the
is operating at a deficit. By cutting up to 10 percent of its
workforce through voluntary buyouts — potentially up to 80
employees with at least three years seniority — NPR hopes to reach
a balanced budget in fiscal 2015. When it announced the buyout plan
in September, NPR had 840 full-
and part-time employees.
this month, a spokeswoman told me the buyout program has been
“helpful” in moving NPR towards its budget goals. There’s not
yet a final number of employees taking the buyout, and the network
does not intend to share a final figure; but from what I hear, it
sounds like NPR feels it is on track to meeting its goal through the
also hear from various sources that the network plans to fill
Loewenstein’s position; but it doesn’t sound like Starling’s
role will be filled with a new hire.
Starling samples goodies from the NPR Labs’ Chili Cook-off in
by Leslie Stimson
most recently was executive director of NPR Labs, the organization’s
R&D arm, which he helped to establish in 2005. It is based at NPR
headquarters in Washington.
2009, NPR Labs was put under the wing of NPR’s Technology Research
Center, which operates under the auspices of the Public Radio
Satellite System. The PRSS is part of NPR’s Distribution Division.
a note to colleagues that Starling shared with Radio World, he wrote
that radio folks need to banish the word “retirement” from our
addition to his engineering expertise, Starling has a law degree and
teaches law part-time at Towson University outside Baltimore. He
plans to teach, write, consult, fish, volunteer, dote on both his
kids and his new kitten, spend more time with his wife Linda, and
told me at the Labs’ chili cook-off in December he may also take on
some cool, new projects, and that he’s excited about the next phase
in his life. Several NPR employees stopped by to wish Mike and Pete
farewell, and Labs’ employees used the occasion to explain to other
employees what the lab does.
was director of technical operations at NPR and led the network’s
transition in 1994 from M Street to a larger building on
Massachusetts Avenue. Recently, he arranged for the online auction of
thousands of pieces of gear that the network would not take to its
new headquarters on North Capitol Street this year.
became a vice president in 1998 and was named chief technology
officer in 2002.
projects on which NPR Labs personnel have worked over the years
include testing related to HD Radio multicasts, the FM HD power
increase and accessible radio for the deaf and deaf-blind.
Starling has been in radio 44 years, 33 of them spent in public
began his broadcasting career in high school as an announcer for
WBMD(AM/FM) in Baltimore in 1969. Out of college at the University of
Maryland in 1974 he became an engineering supervisor for Mutual
Broadcasting. In 1976 Starling moved into management as the founder
and manager of commercial WKYY(AM), Amherst, Va. He then became chief
engineer for KPBS(FM), San Diego.
is on the board of directors for the Toronto-based North American
Broadcasters Association. He proposed that NABA form a radio
committee, as we recently reported. For several years Starling also
has been a member of the National Radio Systems Committee, the
standards body co-managed by NAB and CEA.
also helped found the Association of Public Radio Engineers, which
organizes and runs the annual Public Radio Engineering Conference.
Loewenstein wears holiday lights at the December event.
by Leslie Stimson
received Radio World’s Excellence in Engineering Award in 2005, the
same year NPR won a “Cool Stuff” award from RW for the Tomorrow
Radio Project involving HD Radio multicast channel testing. Starling
was the project leader. He received the C. Stanley Potter Award from
the International Association of Audio Information Services in 2004
for NPR’s work on accessible radio projects for the
visually-impaired and hard-of-hearing, and a Wondervision award from
Stevie Wonder for work on the first “talking radio,” the Dice
last official day was to be Jan. 11. Reach out to him at
Loewenstein was one of the network’s original employees when NPR
went on the air in 1971; he was there for the first broadcast of “All
things Considered” 43 years ago as a technician in the studio
retired in December as vice president for distribution, a division
that oversees the Public Radio Satellite System.
PRSS’ Network Operations Center operates an IP-over-satellite
system that enables transmission of programming and other digitized
tells me he’s looking forward to having quality time to actually
listen to more of the programming he has helped support over the
years, and says he’s facing a long list of items to fix around the
house that have long been put-off.
Loewenstein will have fun too; he’ll have more time for sailing,
listening to and playing music, and operating his ham radio gear.
He’s officially done with full-time work.
characterizes his NPR career as “phenomenal” and says he’s been
able to travel and meet people at stations all over the U.S. NPR is
also where he met his wife Margaret.
the late 1980s Loewenstein led public radio’s interconnection
system through a complete reorganization of its governance structure
and completion of a business plan that yielded long-term financial
security for the system, according to NPR. In 2004, he and his team
began a major redesign of public radio’s program distribution
system with the development of the PRSS ContentDepot, which Radio
World has covered in several stories.
advantage of innovations in digital technology, the PRSS ContentDepot
streamlines how public radio stations and producers select, send,
acquire and automate programming. The system launched in 2006. The
PRSS’ ContentDepot service is public radio’s national program
distribution system; it uses a combination of Internet and satellite
technologies to offer automated content delivery services to
recently, Loewenstein helped oversee the move of PRSS’ Network
the new headquarters on North Capitol Street. He says this is a good
time to leave as the network begins a new planning cycle for
was awarded the Edward E. Elson Award in 1991. In 2002, CPB awarded
him the Edward R. Murrow Award recognizing an “individual whose
work has fostered the growth, quality and image of public radio.”
last day was Dec. 27; reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.