Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell’s contributions as an innovator and leader left an indelible mark on public radio in Wisconsin and across the country. The innovations he brought to public radio transformed it to the valued service it is today and foresaw the changes technology would bring to radio.

Jack was the first employee of National Public Radio in 1970 and the first producer and newscaster for its seminal program, All Things Considered. He served as director of Wisconsin Public Radio from 1976 to 1997. During his tenure, WPR grew from 10 stations to 20 stations and greatly expanded its audience. He oversaw the development of numerous WPR programs that aired nationally.

In 1986, Jack opened six regional WPR offices across the state to provide local content. In 1991 he created the Ideas Network to compliment the NPR News and Classical Music Network. The public affairs network was the first of its kind in the nation and positioned WPR for the era of multi-platform audio content.

After leaving WPR, Jack joined the University of Wisconsin faculty and authored two books about the culture and history of public radio.

Jack enhanced and grew WPR’s service to Wisconsin residents and extended its commitment to the Wisconsin Idea. The influence of his leadership on public radio in Wisconsin and across the nation will be felt for generations.


  1. Jack’s selection to the WBA Hall of Fame is well-deserved and long overdue. He certainly has been a great mentor to me in my career and I hope will be around for a long, long time to help mentor others

  2. Paul H Abramson

    Jack was my mentor/boss during the Regionalization process. His determination and extraordinary listening skill made implementing his dream of a statewide dual-service network an amazing period of change and growth for WPR. Congratulations Dr. Mitchell!!

  3. Steve Busalacchi

    For more than a decade, I covered health and Capitol politics under Jack’s leadership. Pursuing sometimes controversial stories was never a burden because we always had the quintessential journalist backing us up. The quality of our content was directly related to Jack’s commitment to journalism.


    Great teacher and innovator. He was my broadcast professor in the late 1970s. I never forgot his decision to hire Susan Stamberg.

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