For immediate release
November 6, 2003

Jessamyn Sarmiento, (202) 513-2307
Laura Gross, (202) 513-2304
Jenny Lawhorn, (202) 513-2754

NPR Receives a Record Bequest of More Than $200 Million

Gift Is From Philanthropist Joan Kroc, Longtime Supporter of Public Radio

WASHINGTON - NPR has been honored with a bequest of more than $200 million from the estate of philanthropist Joan B. Kroc, believed to be the largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution, NPR President Kevin Klose announced today.

"We are inspired and humbled by this magnificent gift," said Klose. "This remarkable act of generosity will help secure the future of NPR as a trusted and independent source of news, information and ideas for millions of listeners. Joan Kroc believed deeply in the power of public radio to serve the communities of America. She made this extraordinary gift from her steadfast conviction that NPR and our member stations provide a vital connection to millions of listeners. She wanted us to continue building a programming service marked by excellence to meet the challenges of this new century. This contribution reflects not only Mrs. Kroc's belief in the growing significance and enduring value of public radio, but her conviction that NPR will be a wise and responsible steward of her legacy."

NPR member station, KPBS in San Diego, also received a $5 million bequest from Mrs. Kroc, a long-time donor to the station. "Mrs. Kroc recognized the defining partnership of public radio: local stations working with national broadcasters to create this remarkable service. The relationship that Mrs. Kroc had with KPBS helped foster a deep understanding and appreciation of NPR and all of public radio," said Klose. "This exemplifies the close partnership that exists between NPR and local public radio stations."

Most of the gift to NPR will become part of the NPR Endowment Fund for Excellence. The fund was created in 1993 to provide a sustaining source of support for NPR activities that is independent of other revenue sources, which are affected by the economy and other factors beyond NPR's control.

"Public radio today is more important than ever," said Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Chairman of the Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus, who attended the Washington news conference at NPR headquarters. "NPR and its more than 750 member stations provide an invaluable and remarkable service to the American public. NPR and its members now reach more than 22 million listeners each week - an increase of more than 60 percent over the last five years. This is reflective of the need in this country for thoughtful and intelligent programming. But while this gift is a marvelous recognition of NPR's current achievement and future promise, it is also a reminder that we in Congress must continue to provide critical support for local publicly owned radio stations - the heart of public radio."

NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg, whose voice has been heard on public radio since 1971, said she was "rendered almost speechless" by the magnitude of Mrs. Kroc's gift. "This was totally unexpected. Those of us who work for NPR are truly honored by this donation," said Stamberg.

The exact amount of the gift - more than $200 million - will depend on resolution of Mrs. Kroc's estate and the final value of her investments. Disbursement of trust funds will take a number of months, and there will be no immediate impact on NPR's budget. "We will use that time wisely to engage in a dialogue with our Board, with our staff at NPR, our member stations, our Foundation trustees, our supporters and our partners in public broadcasting to determine how best to translate this gift into an enduring legacy," said Klose.

John A. Herrmann Jr., chairman of the NPR foundation, said the contribution, combined with a generous flow of other donations to the Endowment Fund for Excellence, is a recognition that NPR has grown to be a linchpin of American news, information and culture. "This is an enormous act of faith by Mrs. Kroc and other donors," said Herrmann. "They are creating a legacy for the audiences of today and tomorrow."

Herrmann said the gift will increase the size of the endowment fund beyond $225 million. "Mrs. Kroc's generosity is an inspiring example for all of us who support NPR and public radio," he said. "She has given us the capacity to think big, both about the services of NPR and about further building the financial resources of this great institution"

"KPBS and National Public Radio are the beneficiaries of Joan Kroc's extraordinary generosity because she recognized that our programming provides vital public service to the American people" said Doug Myrland, general manager of KPBS. "Joan Kroc knew that the partnership between local stations like KPBS and national organizations like NPR is the key to maintaining and improving our programming, and she understood the special value of creating a vital mix of local and national news, information and cultural programming."

"It is no secret that these have been challenging economic times for public radio, a challenge that is still unmet," added Klose. "We hope this gift will inspire a broad conversation about the funding needs for public radio, particularly our member stations."

Klose remembered Mrs. Kroc as a "compassionate person who cared deeply about national and international issues, and especially in finding ways to help people and nations communicate better with one another. I believe those are among the reasons that she chose to leave a substantial gift to NPR."

Joan Kroc, who was nationally recognized for her philanthropy, died of cancer Oct. 12 at age 75. She was the widow of Ray A. Kroc, the founder of McDonald's Corp. In recent years, Mrs. Kroc had made many substantial gifts to organizations promoting world peace, including peace centers at the University of Notre Dame and the University of San Diego.

NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of 21 million Americans each week via more than 730 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, offers hourly newscasts, special features and seven years of archived audio and information.