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Isaacson Abruptly Leaves BBG

Former chairman leaving for ‘big writing project’

Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Walter Isaacson resigned on Friday.

According to a short Washington Post report on the resignation, Isaacson said, “I’m taking on another big writing project, so I won’t be able to give the BBG the time it needs and deserves.” In 2011 Isaacson wrote a widely read biography of Steve Jobs.

A BBG spokeswoman confirmed to Radio World that Isaacson had stepped down.

This development comes at a time of big changes at BBG, as RW has been reporting. The Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Marti, Radio Free Asia and Radio Sawa (Middle East Broadcasting Networks). The president will have to nominate a replacement.

Isaacson also heads the Aspen Institute, a policy foundation.

Here is the text of a letter Isaacson wrote to BBG employees, provided to RW by the board:

“Today I told the White House that I’m stepping down from the BBG. As I discussed with some of you, I’m taking on another big writing project, so I won’t be able to give the BBG the time it needs and deserves.

“Our terms have all either expired or are about to, and I think the board can be proud of its work. We developed over two years a strategic plan to streamline and consolidate the agency, and we adopted unanimously at our last meeting the two resolutions that would implement it. We’ve also hired great new entity heads — David Ensor at Voice of America, Steve Korn at Radio Free Europe, and Carlos Garcia-Perez at Radio and TV Martí — to join the strong leaders at the other entities.

“It’s been exciting to serve on the BBG. And I’m available when you need me to help or cheer from the sidelines.”

The group Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, reacting to the development, urged the administration to fill Isaacson’s seat with “someone who shares our mission of supporting journalism that promotes media freedom and human rights and … greater transparency and accountability by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.”

Isaacson Hails ‘Historic’ BBG Restructuring Plan