The Cable

Gedmin to depart as head of Radio Free Europe

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has announced that Jeff Gedmin will step down as the head of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Prague-based organization he has led since 2007. Gedmin will move to London to become CEO and president of the Legatum Institute, a research organization focused on understanding free markets ...

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has announced that Jeff Gedmin will step down as the head of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Prague-based organization he has led since 2007.

Gedmin will move to London to become CEO and president of the Legatum Institute, a research organization focused on understanding free markets and promoting the issues of democracy and civil society. He starts in his new role March 1.

In an interview from Prague, Gedmin said that his decision to leave RFE/RL after working so hard on its expansion for the last four years was the toughest career decision he’s ever made.

"The best time to leave a job you love is never, yet if you are genuinely committed to growth and personal development, you always have to mindful of what you’re giving to the organization where you work as well as what your next step will be," Gedmin said.

"I decided it was the right time to move on because if I’m telling my people to step out of their comfort zone and be open to growth, I have to be able to take my own advice."

Gedmin’s tenure at RFE/RL was marked by an expansion of the reporting resources there. He now manages a staff of over 550 people in Prague and RFE/RL has about 40 personnel in Washington, DC as well. Gedmin oversaw the launching of Radio Mashaal, a news service covering neglected regions of Pakistan, which will celebrate its one year anniversary this week.

RFE/RL under Gedmin’s leadership has also expanded its reporting in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Through the use of anti-censorship Internet technologies, the RFE/RL websites now log over 1 million visitors each month from inside Iran through a proxy server.

Multiple staff members told The Cable that Gedmin’s departure would leave a huge void at RFE/RL, but they nevertheless wished him well.

"He’s immensely popular in the building with the staff. He’s completely revamped this [organization] into a 21st century media operation. He’s really put it on the map. Everybody is really disappointing that he’s leaving," said one employee.

Another reporter for RFE/RL in Prague noted how Gedmin transitioned the organization’s focus "away from the traditional places, toward the Caucasus, toward Central Asia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran. Those are the hotbeds today where accurate, reliable information is in need the way it was in Eastern Europe during the cold war."

Gedmin’s departure comes just after the installation of the BBG’s new chairman, Walter Isaacson, former head of CNN and Time magazine.

"Jeff’s passion for the power of the truth has been a great inspiration for all of us involved in international broadcasting," Isaacson said in statement. "The Board looks forward to Jeff serving as a valuable adviser in the future."

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