Meet Jim Russell

Jim#37Jim Russell is “The Program Doctor.”

Jim is an award-winning journalist, creative producer, and a seasoned executive. His experience encompasses commercial radio, print, public radio and television. From his time as a UPI foreign corespondent in Vietnam and Cambodia in the late 1960s, to producing public radio’s acclaimed All Things Considered and inventing the most successful business program on the air, Marketplace … Jim exudes an inventiveness and professionalism in his work.

Jim is also one of public broadcasting’s premiere talent scouts, responsible for bringing some of the best-known public radio talent to the industry. Among those he recruited and/or hired are: Susan Stamberg, Robert Siegel, Scott Simon, Robert Krulwich, Carl Kasell, David Brancaccio, David Brown, Noah Adams and composer/performer B.J. Leiderman.  (Jim’s judgment is not infallible: he resisted hiring at least one individual who went on to make a big name for herself: Cokie Roberts!)

“And the person most responsible for that is Russell, a large, jovial man with mischievous eyes and a quick wit. When Marketplace Productions was formed a decade ago, he was the obvious choice to head it, for two reasons. For starters, he certainly understood radio—as a correspondent and later as an executive producer at National Public Radio, he helped found the network’s signature newscast ‘All Things Considered’ and its morning counterpart, ‘Morning Edition.’ But more important was the fact that he had absolutely no idea how the business world worked. And that combination of uncompromising professional standards and a wary approach to its subject matter immediately stamped the show with a fresh, unpretentious style unique in the button-down world of public radio.”

— Los Angeles Times

jrussell and radioHe’s been a local news director, an NPR reporter and producer, a war correspondent in Vietnam. He was a member of the team that invented All Things Considered, and he conceived PBS’s Newton’s Apple and the national public radio hits MarketplaceWeekend America and The World. He has helped stations develop nationally-distributed programs including WUNC’s The Story and WBEZ’s Sound Opinions. Jim has worked for all three public radio networks and for public television and has won every major award in broadcasting. After 30+ years of developing landmark public radio and TV programs for NPR, PRI, APM and PBS, he’s now created his own production company to work with You! Many people wonder what a Program Doctor is.

  • Someone that program makers like to work with – to invent new shows and improve existing ones.
  • Someone who respects them and “gets it.”
  • Someone who knows how hard it is to make great radio and TV, but still aspires to do so.

As for the “Doctor” part – well, when Gonzo journalist “Dr.” Hunter S. Thompson  received an honorary doctorate from the Universal Life Church in the late 1960s, he insisted on using the title “Doctor.” So did Thompson’s alter ego Raoul Duke (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) whom Thompson said was a “Doctor of Journalism.” If good enough for Hunter Thompson, good enough for Jim Russell! You can check out Jim’s “Manifesto” on the public radio web site Transom. Says Kathryn Jensen, COO of ideastream, Cleveland: “Jim has been at the beginning of many of the national programs that now give identity to public radio.”

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David Brancaccio (host) and Jim Russell (executive producer) of Marketplace collecting the prestigous Peabody Award.

Awards

Yeah, yeah, yeah — he has won every major award in broadcast journalism. (Only missing the Nobel, and he’s working on that.)

  • National TV Emmy for Newton’s Apple
  • 2 George Foster Peabody Awards, for Marketplace and All Things Considered
  • 2 duPont Columbia Awards, 1 citation and 1 commendation
  • 2 Ohio State Awards
  • 2 National Headliner Awards
  • 2 National Education Writers’ Association
  • Selected for inclusion in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Entertainment, Who’s Who in the West
  • University of Missouri School of Journalism University of Georgia
  • Fifth Estater Profile

PS: Kids do grow up!

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Jim on college radio – more years ago than he wishes to remember!