J.J. Yore, a veteran producer credited as a creator of the public radio show Marketplace, was one of three senior executives riffed June 17 from American Public Media, the Minnesota-based company that produces the series.
Yore, who rose up through the production ranks two years ago to become v.p. and g.m. of the weeknightly business and economics show, will be succeeded by Deborah Clark, e.p. who steps into the role of v.p.
Clark has worked for Marketplace over two stints since 1995, and APM expects her to move the show forward “business as usual,” Mardi Larson, spokesperson, wrote in an email confirming the layoffs. “We thank J.J. for his valuable and lasting contributions to our company’s mission and audience service, and we wish him well in his next career opportunity.”
“I am disappointed, and I’m surprised, but I’m not angry,” Yore said in an interview last week. “This is the thing I’ve been associated the longest with in my life. But I am now looking forward to figuring out what will come next.”
APM also eliminated the positions of Mary Pat Ladner, v.p. of marketing, and Kathy Golbuff, v.p. of underwriting. Larson described the restructuring as a move to eliminate layers of management and organize the company around an “Audiences First” strategy.
APM reorganized its staff into two new divisions, according to Larson: audience development, which will focus on “attracting new, larger and more diverse audiences”; and business development, which will focus on earned revenues.
The restructuring marked the second company-wide downsizing at APM in less than a year and the third set of pink slips eliminating senior jobs at Marketplace: Bob Moon was laid off from his position as senior business correspondent four months ago. Layoffs imposed by APM in July 2012 included a pink slip for John Dimsdale, who had been the show’s Washington bureau chief.
APM is one of largest and wealthiest organizations in public radio. It’s comprised of American Public Media Group, the support organization, and its affiliated organizations, including: Minnesota Public Radio; Classical South Florida; Southern California Public Radio, which operates KPCC in Pasadena, Calif., and The Fitzgerald Theater Co., the home stage of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and now Wits, the new weekly variety show starring John Moe.
During fiscal 2012, which ended June 30, 2012, APMG and its affiliates recorded a $13.9 million deficit between expenses, which totaled $124.7 million, and revenues of $110.8 million, according to an audited financial statement for all of its affiliates.
In revenue, the companies brought in $67.4 million for fiscal 2012, an increase from $66.2 million the prior year. According to the financial report, the $7.2 million decline in regional and national underwriting for the fiscal year was offset by an almost $9 million gain in foundation support and individual giving.
Larson described a supplementary statement, included in the report, as being a more accurate representation of the operating budgets of APMG affiliates. It recorded a $2 million deficit on expenses of $118.9 million and revenues of $116.9 million.
APMG’s fiscal year ends June 30, and the company will not disclose any forecasts or projections of its recent performance, Larson said.
But APM is not alone among public media organizations struggling to adapt to declining revenues. Executives at MacNeil/Lehrer Productions also announced job layoffs and bureau closures to take effect July 1.
Open to ‘all kinds of things’
As word spread within public radio of Yore’s departure, the longtime Marketplace producer (and former editor of Current) said he received a lot of support from well-wishers.
The realignment decision was unexpected — Yore hadn’t seen it coming — and his only decision for the short-term future is to spend time with family and travel.
“This is a great moment to consider all kinds of things,” Yore said. “I’m told there’s a life outside public media, and I’d like to explore that.”
Later in the week, Marketplace announced that it had recruited a new fill-in host from outside public media. CNN reporter Lizzie O’Leary will join the program as host/correspondent.