Former NPR digital chief Thomas moves up at Etsy

Back in April I mentioned the departure of Maria Thomas from her digital post at NPR. She left to join handmade crafts marketplace Etsy as their COO.

Well, just a few months laster she’s now CEO, as noted on the Etsy site and by Fred Wilson, venture capitalist and blogger extraordinaire.

Congratulations to Maria and Etsy on great news!

It makes me wonder what might have been had the stations and NPR actually agreed to do something in the wake of the New Realities conversations a couple years ago, conversations in which Thomas participated deeply. Had Thomas stayed at NPR, she could have kicked (even more) serious online ass for the network, but instead NPR, via the Board, has signaled the importance of the “R” over all things digital, especially in the BPP cancellation.

Someone I bumped into late this week with knowledge of the public radio system commented that the stations need to get out of NPR’s way and let it grow and mature. I couldn’t agree more — and I work at a station, one that ostensibly could be “hurt” by NPR’s evolution. A strong, vibrant, changing NPR would be good for everyone.

Here’s the thing… NPR’s future success cannot come at the expense of local stations if they are truly engaged with their communities. If NPR built direct relationships and funding deals with the public,  that would only cut stations out of the picture if their local community relationships were weaker than the ones NPR could build. If that’s the case — if NPR’s success really would be your station’s death — then just what are you doing in public media anyway?