Golden Parachute for NPR Executive? Try $1.3 Million

Remember the outrage earlier this year for some of the bonuses paid out to executives of financial institutions that were TARP recipient? Or how about the press coverage that spurred on populist outrage when it was reported former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent $35,000 on a commode to redecorate his office?

Turns out Thain walked away with a $1.5 million "golden parachute" after he resigned from Merrill, which was acquired by Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). But you would never guess who got a golden parachute that was pretty close to what Thain got. According to an Aug. 14 report on the Chronicle of Philanthropy web site, former National Public Radio chief executive Ken Stern, who was replaced in March 2008, took a $1.3-million buyout, which has gone almost unnoticed.

"Ken Stern, the former National Public Radio chief executive who was replaced in March 2008, earned $1.3-million that year, reports National Public Radio online, citing the nonprofit organization's recently filed annual tax form," the story said. "Mr. Stern was ousted before his four-year contract was up, and he told NPR that when the organization decided to change executives last year, it ‘did so with the knowledge it had the legal obligation to make good immediately on the terms of my contract.'"

NPR, along with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private non-profit corporation created by an act of Congress to promote public broadcasting. According to the Associated Press, some 15 percent of public broadcasting's funding comes from the federal government. The CPB's latest annual budget was $430 million according to PBS chief Paula Kerger.