News director at Iowa Public Radio departs suddenly

Ahl led IPR through a time of flux, mergers

Iowa DNR district forester Mark Vitosh and host Charity Nebbe broadcast a horticulture day episode of
Iowa DNR district forester Mark Vitosh and host Charity Nebbe broadcast a horticulture day episode of "Talk of Iowa" at Iowa Public Radio's studio in Iowa City in March 2011. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Jonathan Ahl, who had been news director of Iowa Public Radio since 2008, is no longer with the network.

IPR chief executive officer Mary Grace Herrington said Thursday was Ahl's last day. She wouldn't say what led to his departure or whether he was terminated.

Its our policy not to comment on that, but we are very pleased with everything Jonathan has done to build our news organization," Herrington said.

Ahl, who came to IPR in July 2008, led the news and talk show enterprise that includes popular Iowa-produced programs including "River to River" and "Talk of Iowa."

"Jonathan Ahl is an excellent news man," said Charity Nebbe, who hosts "Talk of Iowa." "In the two years I worked for him he was constantly challenging the status quo and pushing all of us to be better. He was a pleasure to work for and I will miss him."

Ahl served at IPR during a time of flux.

The statewide radio network was created in 2005 by merging stations at Iowa's three public universities. IPR cut nine positions in 2009 as part of a reorganization after state funding dropped 6 percent and funding from the universities declined 17 percent. In this fiscal year, the state cut IPR's funding by 3.6 percent. The network has responded by increasing listener support and corporate sponsorships.

Before coming to Iowa, Ahl was a reporter at public radio stations in Illinois and served as news director for WCBU-FM, in Peoria. He also was a part-time journalism instructor at Bradley University, in Peoria.

Ahl is serving his second term as president of the Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He has a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Illinois-Springfield and a bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University.

Ahl has not returned a call requesting comment for this story.Gazette reporter Diane Heldt contributed to this report.