O'Connor has led RIPR since May 2006, when it was known as WRNI. He led the station as it became independent from Boston University and WBUR, expanded its newsroom resources, and switched from 1290 AM to 88.1 FM in the Providence area. RIPR, Rhode Island's only locally based and focused NPR station, also broadcasts from 91.5 FM in central western RI and 102.7 FM in southern RI.
According to a statement released by RIPR, O'Connor "has overseen the growth of news coverage, original programming, as well as the expansion to three FM stations, an internet stream, smartphone app and updated website."
"Specifically, RIPR has grown from 2006, when it was without a reporter, to a news room today that boasts four beat reporters, a general reporter, a political analyst and three on-air hosts all led by a news director," the statement continues. "RIPR's newsroom has garnered 52 journalism awards. RIPR's budget was $800,000 in 2006, it is $2.6 million today. RIPR employs 22 staff, including a multi-person development office."
In 2007, O'Connor said the independence of RI's public radio station put the responsibility for supporting it "where it should have always been — it is now on Rhode Islanders. It is not on Boston University, who is trying to set us up for success. It is up to the residents of the state to really support this. They’re telling me they want this and they want this excellence [of public radio] on a regular basis. Well, that’s going to take their support “
Listeners have risen to the challenge, providing more than half of the support for RIPR's operating budget.
Ted Long, the chair of RIPR's board, said, "I have enjoyed working closely with Joe for almost four years as he helped to build RIPR into the valuable and trusted public media organization it is today. We are proud of Joe's accomplishments and wish him every success with his new opportunity. We appreciate that Joe is leaving us with an excellent senior management team and very robust organization, poised to execute on its strategic plan and continue growth designed to better serve our listeners and community."
RIPR has initiated a national search for a new general manager, led by co-chairs Marie Langlois and Adam Hamblett.
Susan Greenhalgh, RIPR's chief operating officer for RIPR, will serve as Interim General Manager upon O'Connor's departure. Greenhalgh has been with RIPR for 5 years.
O'Connor will take part in a Q&A with RIPR's Morning Edition host Elisabeth Harrison, set for broadcast Thursday morning, to talk about his time at the station and why he's making the change.
WFAE's longtime GM announced his retirement last spring.