Jim Russell, the creator of the public radio business news program “Marketplace” in 1989, has died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
He was 76.
Russell envisioned “Marketplace” as a business news show that would appeal to a mass audience, not just executives and investors, and he produced it in California, away from the traditional New York business journalism center.
Currently, the “Marketplace” broadcast portfolio is heard by more than 12 million listeners each week on more than 800 public radio stations nationwide. For context, that’s more than five times the audience of the top five cable TV news shows combined. “Marketplace” also reaches more than 2 million across its podcast and digital platforms.
After serving as an anchor for Washington, D.C.’s first all-news radio station and as a war correspondent for UPI in Vietnam and Cambodia, Russell was one of the first three reporters hired by National Public Radio. At NPR, he went on to produce “All Things Considered” and helped to create “Morning Edition.”
In the 1980s, Russell moved to television as station director of the public television station in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where he led his staff to become among the most prolific program producers in public television, garnering more than 200 honors and citations in a decade, including an Emmy.
In 1989, Russell went to California to create and executive produce the daily public radio business program “Marketplace.” During the first eight years, “Marketplace” quadrupled its audience and number of stations, reaching more than 3 million listeners weekly in the United States and throughout the world.
He was 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.
Russell won every major award in broadcast journalism, including two Ohio State Awards for documentaries and two National Headliner Awards, and he shared two DuPont Columbia Awards and a Peabody Award.
In recent years, he ran a consulting business in North Carolina aimed at helping broadcast shows.