Institute of Politics (IOP) Executive Director Steve Edwards will step down from his position at the University of Chicago to return to WBEZ public radio station.
Edwards left the Chicago radio station in 2012 to join the IOP. After a four year stint running programming and launching new initiatives for the Institute, he has agreed to serve as Vice President and Chief Content Officer for WBEZ.
Edwards told The Maroon that this is one of the most “critical moments” for journalists in his lifetime, and he sees the new role as an opportunity to continue to advance the IOP’s public service mission.
“When I was presented with the chance to take over leadership of Chicago WBEZ editorial program operation, I was reminded of something that has been a part of the ethos and mission of the IOP since the beginning—this notion that all of us have both the opportunity and the obligation to play an active role in civic life,” Edwards said.
Edwards’s return is concurrent with an expansion of editorial staff at WBEZ driven by Chicago Public Media, WBEZ’s parent company. At a time when many traditional media outlets are making cuts or restructuring, WBEZ is growing its staff and news programming. Edwards said that his concern for fact-based reporting in the current political climate swayed his decision to move back to public radio.
Students involved with the IOP described Edwards’s passionate mentorship and commitment to campus life. Liz Stark, A.B. ’17, former member of the Student Advisory Board at the IOP, remembers Edwards’s advocacy for the Women in Public Service Program and his “The Art of the Interview” workshop, in which he taught students to conduct journalistic interviews.
“Steve tackled tough political issues on campus with grace and thoughtfulness, and worked hard to make sure student voices were heard,” Stark said. “So many of our stories would not be possible without Steve, and he truly made the IOP what it is today.”
The IOP has not yet announced a new Executive Director, but the search is under way for a candidate with a background in politics, who recognizes the role of student input into IOP programming.
Although he will retain no formal role at the IOP, Edwards said he hopes to come back from time to time and moderate discussions, and to continue to be a resource for students interested in politics and journalism.