Changes at Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media

Jun 16, 2020

Dear Members and Listeners,

For more than half-a-century, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has been enriching minds, nourishing spirits, expanding perspectives, and assisting our audiences in strengthening communities. Today, when so many communities are fractured, frustrated and anxious, our public services are needed, now, more than ever. And our commitment to serving you has never been stronger.

As a result of the widespread economic turmoil and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, MPR and American Public Media (APM) are facing a large and unexpected financial challenge.

Like all our media peers, over the past few months, some of our revenue sources have dramatically and simultaneously declined, particularly from regional and national underwriting, corporate sponsorship, national program distribution, ticketed events, custom travel, financial investments and other earned income.  While recent MPR and APM member drives and emergency fundraising efforts have been successful, with gifts from our Board and other donors, the generosity of our valued contributors is unfortunately not enough to offset the rapid loss of revenue we are experiencing. 

Our public service mission compels us to inform, inspire and serve our audiences.  That is our enduring promise, and it motivates every decision we make. We’ve carefully weighed all our options to ensure that the programming, staffing and operational changes we’re making are sustainable, and will help to make our most important services even stronger and more relevant.

As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to reduce our staff by 28 people. In addition to our previous actions including cutting executive pay by 20% to 35%, and implementing voluntary separations and furloughs, we are cancelling FY21 merit pay increases for all employees, combining some departments and teams, selectively reducing work hours and making changes to internal operating systems to reduce costs.

We are also ending a podcast – The Hilarious World of Depression – and we will end national production of Live from Here.

As we worked to address the financial challenges, we set clear principles for our decision-making.  We sought to ensure that every change: 1) is aligned with our mission, values and long-term vision; 2) demonstrates our care and stewardship with all our resources; 3) protects our core strengths; 4) accelerates innovation to invest in our future; and, 5) prioritizes investments that build our potential for greater public service.

In making these changes, we are focusing our resources on the programming and services you value most. We will find new ways to give you more control over when and how you listen, and greater access to our content on your favorite media devices. We’ll offer fresh, distinctive programming that deepens our value to you and attracts new audiences. We will double-down on trusted, in-depth information that engages and equips you to make informed decisions about your health, the economy and our democracy. And we will invest in understanding and addressing the systemic issues of racism and inequities further exposed by the killing of George Floyd.

We are proud to be your trusted source for fact-based and reliable news, compelling stories of human connection and inspiring music that lifts your spirits when you need it most. Thank you for listening, and for your vital support.

Jon McTaggart