Vermont Public President and CEO Scott Finn will resign at the end of the year
Vermont Public president and CEO Scott Finn, the head of the largest media organization in the state, will resign at the end of this year, the station announced Friday morning.
The decision to leave the organization of more than 100 employees was voluntary, and one that he’d “been thinking about for a really long time,” Finn said in an interview.
“We’re in a really good place, and it’s a good time for me to be able to step away and figure out what I want to do next and for the organization to find its new leader,” Finn said.
Senior vice-president of development Brendan Kinney, who’s been with the organization for 14 years, will serve as interim CEO while the board of directors conducts a search for Finn’s replacement.
“We so appreciate Scott’s leadership and wish him well in his next chapter,” said Marguerite Dibble, president of Vermont Public’s board of directors, in a written statement.
More than a million people a month use Vermont Public’s website, and radio and TV stations. The station airs national programming from NPR and PBS, and produces local journalism and shows. Under Finn's tenure the station has worked to expand its digital offerings as part of its strategic plan to reach a broader and more diverse audience. Those initiatives include starting a daily news podcast, standing up a new podcast — Homegoings, and bolstering the station's digital staff.
"If you look at how we've been able to maintain our broadcast audience while massively growing our digital one — and that we reach more than one million people every single month in a state that only has 650,000 people — I think you have to say that we're succeeding at beginning to reach those audiences," Finn said. "And trying to make sure we say everyday with all our actions that public media is for everyone."
Finn said he and his family hope to stay in Vermont, and that he’s not sure what he’ll do next.
“When I decided that I needed to step away from this [job], I decided to do it in part because you can’t give this job justice and also be looking for the next thing,” he said.
Finn was hired to lead Vermont Public Radio in 2018 after spending five years as the CEO and executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. He led the Colchester-based station during its coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and over the last three years has overseen the merger of VPR and Vermont PBS. The organization changed its name to Vermont Public last year.
Finn’s announcement follows a string of departures from Vermont Public, including two members of the station’s leadership team: senior vice-president of content Sarah Ashworth left in June to become director of Wisconsin Public Radio. Vice-president of people and culture Fran Tobin, who led the station’s human resources department, stepped down last Friday.
The recent departures don’t have anything to do with his decision to leave, Finn said.
“After a merger between two big organizations, at some point people might decide they’d like to do something different with their lives,” he said.
Finn said that in recent years he's led an organization that's gone through a lot — from a pandemic, to a racial reckoning, historic flooding and a merger — and that takes a toll.
“If I have any regrets, it’s that making change is hard," he said. "It asks a lot of people, it asks a lot of our audience, and it asks a lot from our staff and I think understanding that and being patient with change and helping people work through it – I think that’s something I wish I spent more energy and time doing.”
According to recent tax filings, the station had 119 employees in 2021, Vermont Public brought in more than $18.4 million during the 2021 fiscal year (which ran from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) and spent about $21.1 million – operating at a $2.6 million deficit. At the end of the 2021 fiscal year, Vermont Public had $84 million in assets.
According to Vermont Public’s recent federal tax filings Finn’s base salary is $109,694, though filings from a previous year showed his salary to be $183,711. Finn said recent tax filings were complicated by the merger, so “it’s not a one-to-one exact replica of what I might take home” but he declined to comment further.
Finn began his career as a reporter at the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, and also worked as a reporter and news director at WVPB and as the news director of WUSF Public Media in Tampa, Florida.
He was recently elected to National Public Radio’s board of directors.
Disclosure: Vermont Public reporter Liam Elder-Connors reported this story, and it was edited by Brittany Patterson and Mark Davis. This story was not reviewed by Vermont Public’s communications team or leadership team before publication.