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Mike Starling to Leave NPR

He began his broadcasting career in high school as an announcer for WBMD(AM/FM), Baltimore in 1969

Mike Starling plans to soon leave NPR.

In a note to colleagues he shared with Radio World, he says we need to banish the word “retirement” from our vocabulary.

Long a part-time law professor at Towson University outside Baltimore, he says he plans to teach, write, consult, fish, volunteer, dote on both his kids and his new kitten and read more. “Color me eternally grateful for the opportunity to work with so many great folks, like yourself, on so many worthy radio projects,” he says in the email.

By phone, he tells me he’s excited about the next chapter in his life.

Starling was director of Technical Operations at NPR and led the network’s transition from its former Washington M Street location to a larger building on Massachusetts Ave. in 1994. More recently, he arranged for the online auction of thousands of pieces of gear the network would not be moving to its new North Capitol Street headquarters this year.

He became a vice president in 1998 and was named chief technology officer in 2002.

Most recently, Starling’s been executive director of NPR Labs, the network’s R&D arm he helped to establish in 2005. In 2009, NPR Labs came under the wing of NPR’s Technology Research Center, which operates under the auspices of the Public Radio Satellite System, part of NPR’s Distribution Division. Notable projects NPR Labs personnel have worked on over the years include testing related to HD Radio multicasts, the FM HD power increase and accessible radio for the deaf and deaf-blind.

Overall, he’s been in radio 44 years; 33 of those were spent in public radio.

He began his broadcasting career in high school as an announcer for WBMD(AM/FM), 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.

Starling is on the board of directors for the Toronto-based North American Broadcasters Association. He proposed that NABA form a radio committee, we recently reported. For several years Starling has been a member of the National Radio Systems Committee.

He helped found the Association of Public Radio Engineers, which organizes and runs the annual Public Radio Engineering Conference.

He was also Radio World’s Engineer of the Year 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 ITR-100A.

Starling is one of several employees taking a voluntary buy-out from the network which seeks to reduce its workforce in an effort to balance its budget.

His last official day is Jan. 11. Reach out to him at: [email protected].