Donald R. Quayle, a public broadcasting executive who helped establish National Public Radio in 1970 and served as its first president, died April 16 at a hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was 84 and a Bethesda, Maryland, resident.

The cause was complications from brain surgery, said a daughter, Sharla Hellie.

In the 1960s, Quayle was director of an NPR forerunner called the Educational Radio Network and executive director of the Eastern Educational Network, a Boston-based educational television network.

He joined the Corporation for Public Broadcasting soon after it was formed by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Three years later, he was named president of Washington-based National Public Radio at a time when it had a few dozen employees and 90 member stations (there are now more than 900).

Michael McCauley, the author of the 2005 history “NPR: The Trials and Triumphs of National Public Radio,” said Quayle was an “immensely talented manager whose goal was to take an organization with scant resources and begin to have a vision and launch it with legitimacy.”

Quayle helped forge the network’s structural bones, but he was limited by forces beyond his control. NPR was regarded at the time as the starving stepchild to the more-glamorous Public Broadcasting Service, which received the bulk of Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding.

After leaving NPR, Quayle was a senior vice president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and then vice president for administration at WETA, the Washington-area public radio and television station. He retired in 1989.

Donald Ramsey Quayle was born on July 26, 1930, in Logan, Utah. Survivors include five children. 13 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.