Inquirer editor is chosen to lead WHYY's news division

Members of Philadelphia Media Network learn Sandra Clark (center), managing editor of features/operations/digital, has accepted a position as vice president for news and civic engagement at WHYY. Clark starts in August.

Sandra M. Clark, an Inquirer managing editor overseeing features, operations, and digital, is replacing Chris Satullo as the top news executive at the public-broadcasting affiliate WHYY.

Satullo, also a former top Inquirer editor, left WHYY last September after a budget dispute with his superiors, shocking staffers who work at the radio and television studios on Independence Mall.

There are 60 WHYY journalists, about triple the size of the features department in the combined newsroom of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.

Clark will hold the title of vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY, the main PBS and NPR affiliate in the Philadelphia area. She begins Aug. 22.

She said Thursday that she was "thrilled to be joining" WHYY and "creating a space for people to talk about the important issues in our region, state, and in the country."

Clark joins WHYY as public-media outlets face an aging audience and threats from podcasts and internet-streaming radios in cars. Surveys show that middle-aged Americans like public-media content. But the question is how those outlets satisfy that audience while also developing and airing content for younger adults.

WHYY says its TV station reaches a weekly audience in the area of 929,750 viewers and its radio station reaches 342,600 listeners in a week.

WHYY - which relies heavily on financial contributions from its audience and members for cash to operate - reported revenue of $32.5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, according to its tax return. The group had a $2 million surplus that year. The previous year, the public-media outlet had $30.3 million in revenue and a $736,161 surplus.

Clark said her first task was "to get in and assess what already is there."

"WHYY has a rich tradition in news on multiple platforms and in engaging audiences already," she said. "That said, we in the media have to realize that demographics in the world are changing, and that's not reflected enough in our coverage and in our newsrooms across the industry." She said that she would be looking to engage diverse audiences and was "very committed to the education and inclusive mission of public media."

Clark's father, David, was an African American Army enlistee from Louisiana who met her mother, Kinko, when he served in Japan.

William J. Marrazzo, WHYY's president and CEO, said Clark was hired after a national search. "Pretty early on, we were looking at people with executive journalism talent who were highly comfortable with businesses in transition," he said.

Inquirer editor William K. Marimow said that Clark had a "collegial and expansive spirit" and that "WHYY's gain is our loss."

He noted that Clark had earned a master's in business administration from Arcadia University School of Global Business in 2014, and that she brought "acute awareness of how good journalism can converge with good business opportunities."

Clark began her career at the Inquirer even before she graduated from the University of Kansas, when Acel Moore, a longtime Inquirer reporter, columnist, and editor, recruited her as an intern.

The newspaper hired Clark as a sports copy editor in 1983. She suspended her journalism career in 1990 when she joined the Peace Corps in Africa. Clark returned to the Inquirer in 1996 as an assistant news editor.

Deputy managing editor Tom McNamara, who also is the lead editor for the Sunday Inquirer, will oversee the features staff with Clark's departure.

bfernandez@phillynews.com

215-854-5897 @bobfernandez1