Minnesota Public Radio is keeping it in the family. Jon McTaggart, who has been with MPR's parent company, American Public Media Group, off and on since 1983, will become CEO when founder Bill Kling steps down July 1.

McTaggart, who now holds the title of senior vice president, will be only the second chief executive in MPR's history.

He has a tough act to follow. Kling is a broadcasting giant, having built the nation's largest network of public radio stations and a distribution arm for such successful shows as "Prairie Home Companion" and "Marketplace."

"Jon has been a remarkable leader who has been responsible for a great portion of our success over the years," said Kling, who started public radio in Minnesota in 1967 and is expected to spend his post-MPR time as an adviser to public radio stations nationwide. "I'm confident Jon will ensure that APMG continues to lead the way in public media's ongoing evolution."

Randy Hogan, chairman of the APMG board of trustees, said a search committee considered more than 200 candidates, including some international applicants, before picking McTaggart for his ability to handle not only the business aspects of the job but also the public-oriented mission.

"He's really aligned with the strategy of where we're going," Hogan said.

Ian Friendly, chair of the board's succession committee, said he was impressed by McTaggart's ability to be strategic and to take "ambiguity and create a positive outcome."

McTaggart called Kling a true friend and mentor. "Above all, Bill taught me to listen critically. That's where great radio starts," he said. "He set high expectations for himself and great expectations for the company, and that will continue. I want to keep creating those driveway moments where something is so compelling on the radio that you can't get out of your car. Bill taught me that we have a big responsibility and a big opportunity."

McTaggart was raised on a farm near Campbell, Minn., on the state's western border. He earned a bachelor's degree from Bemidji State University. With the exception of two three-year stints at other companies, McTaggart has been with APMG since 1983.

"I'm honored and excited at the same time," he said. "I'm humbled by the confidence the board has shown me."

njustin@startribune.com • 612-673-7431 Follow Justin on Twitter: @nealjustin