CHICAGO (April 23, 2021) – Today Chicago Public Media, home to NPR news station WBEZ Chicago, announced that Managing Editor Tracy Brown has been promoted to Chief Content Officer. Brown will succeed current Chief Content Officer and long-time WBEZ leader Steve Edwards, who is departing the station to become Managing Director at Koya Partners, part of Diversified Search Group, an executive search and strategic advisory firm focused on diversifying and strengthening the next generation of civic leaders in Chicago and beyond.
“This is a passing of the baton in our content team leadership, with the news of Tracy’s well-deserved appointment as well as Steve’s departure after a total of nearly 20 years with WBEZ,” said Matt Moog, interim CEO for Chicago Public Media. “Over the last few years Tracy and Steve have built a strong partnership to lead our newsroom and content efforts, and together they have built one of the largest and most respected newsrooms in the city. While we will greatly miss Steve, we are in extremely capable hands with Tracy and her leadership as she starts her new role.”
Brown’s appointment as Chief Content Officer comes after two years leading the WBEZ newsroom and more than 25 years in journalism. Brown joined WBEZ in 2019 from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Since then, she has led the WBEZ newsroom through a period of growth and impact. WBEZ was among the first newsrooms in the nation to shine a spotlight on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among Black and Latinx communities. In addition, WBEZ journalists have broken major stories regarding Chicago’s ticketing and towing practices, historic inequities in mortgage lending practices, and the ongoing federal corruption investigation involving Com Ed and top Illinois political figures.
Under Brown’s leadership, WBEZ has launched new initiatives including The COVID Report, and has undertaken major editorial collaborations with the Local Media Association, the Pulitzer Center, the Medill School of Journalism, Pro Publica, City Bureau and the Better Government Association, among many others.
“Both Steve and I deeply believe in the importance of local journalism and being of essential service to our community,” said Brown. “I’m looking forward to a new chapter ahead for WBEZ with the entire team. It’s been incredibly rewarding to work for and with Steve, and I’m delighted knowing he will continue to have a huge impact on Chicago in his new role.”
“I can’t imagine a better person to lead the next phase of Chicago Public Media’s content growth than Tracy Brown,” said Edwards. “She’s an extraordinary leader, a superb journalist and is deeply committed to building ever more innovative and inclusive public media. I look forward to what she and the rest of the team will create for all of us in our community as we go forward.”
Edwards first joined Chicago Public Media in 1999 as host of WBEZ’s daily magazine program “Eight Forty-Eight” and he has held numerous roles in the newsroom and in leadership over his career. Since becoming the Chief Content Officer in 2017, Edwards led the significant growth and expansion of the station, helping WBEZ reach new heights in audience and impact.
In fact, WBEZ reaches nearly 550,000 listeners a week across radio and digital streaming platforms, and more than a million people engage with its content on digital platforms. In the most recent Nielsen ratings (March 2021), WBEZ ranked in the top 10 across all dayparts, fourth overall in market share, and has held the No. 1 spot in Morning Drive for three months running.
“Steve is beloved by many on our staff, in our city and in our community,” said Moog. “He has a strong sense of civic commitment and he loves to inspire, mentor and cultivate young leaders, so there’s no doubt he’ll combine both of those skills in his new role and will continue to do great things as he has with us.”
“Investing in people and strengthening civic life have been two powerful passions throughout my professional career,” said Edwards. “I’ve been so privileged to do both at WBEZ over many years, and I’m excited to begin a new chapter that expands on that work to help strengthen and diversify leadership across sectors, including journalism, at a time when we need it most.”