American Public Media Group eliminates jobs in restructuring

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American Public Media Group cut 12 positions amid a host of changes announced Thursday by the organization.

Spokesperson Angie Andresen told Current that the job cuts were spread across APMG, but she did not say which positions were affected.

“A small number of positions were eliminated,” Andresen told Current. “We value every employee, and any time even one person loses their job, it’s painful. Out of respect for the privacy of the individuals affected, we will not share details.”

APMG includes Minnesota Public Radio; Southern California Public Radio, licensee of KPCC in Pasadena and other stations; and American Public Media, a producer and distributor of public radio programs including Marketplace and Live From Here.  

KPCC Midday News Anchor Hettie Lynne Hurtes confirmed to Current that she was one of the employees let go, ending her 13 years with the organization. She will continue to work at the station for the next two weeks, she said. She is a member of the station’s SAG-AFTRA union.

Union stewards at Minnesota Public Radio told union members in an email obtained by Current that two positions within the bargaining unit were eliminated. The email did not say which positions were affected. The union covers newsroom workers such as hosts, reporters and producers.

The stewards said in the letter that their “union contract, unlike KPCC’s, has a provision that’s basically like a pause button. Management has to inform the union of layoffs they plan to make and give us a chance, through our Labor Management Committee, to offer alternatives.”

Southern California Public Radio President and CEO Herb Scannell told staff in an email Thursday that the organization needs to “reallocate our spending in some areas” in order to “get to where we need to go.” The letter was also posted on the station’s website.

“These moves will allow us to double down on innovation and get in front of softening economic factors,” he wrote.

Scannell, who signed on as CEO in February, suggested that the realignment is designed to bolster the station’s marketing department.

“In the past, when we’ve needed more money, we have taken funds from the marketing budget,” he wrote. “But that’s come at the cost of telling our own story and raising awareness about our public service. Growing our audience is critical to our sustainability and marketing plays a key role.”

The changes were made “with an eye towards protecting our ability to do the kind of original journalism we want to be known for, and to continue to provide robust local programming on air and online,” he added.

He did not respond to a request from Current for comment.

APMG CEO Jon McTaggart also announced a restructuring intended to support a five-year plan adopted by the organization last month.

The changes include creating three distinct divisions within APMG: Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and American Public Media, he said in a letter to staff obtained by Current. Each of those divisions will be led by a president. McTaggart named Dave Kansas president of the APM division in addition to his role as EVP of AMPG. Tim Roesler will be interim president for MPR during a search for a permanent president. Scannell leads the SCPR division.

Scannell will continue to report to the SCPR board; the presidents of APM and MPR will report directly to McTaggart, he said in the email.

“We’ll collaborate closely between our APM and MPR digital teams, especially on sales, operations, and content when appropriate,” Roesler said in an email to staff obtained by Current. “To reiterate one of the purposes of the org design changes: we want to move the decisions closer to the work. We’ll be building consensus on many issues, and alignment on issues where consensus isn’t practical.”

Earlier this year, a group of executive team members at APMG “identified our current operating structure as a real impediment to the future we want to build,” McTaggart wrote.

The changes will help “speed our decision-making, and enable us to be more agile, to learn faster and invest more in our people and culture, audience insights, new programming and innovation,” he wrote.

McTaggart did not address the layoffs in the email, to the dismay of one source inside the organization’s headquarters in St. Paul, Minn.

“That long ass email full of rah rah and corporate gobbledygook and no mention of people getting canned,” the source said.

In his email, McTaggart said management will hold a town hall meeting Dec. 12 to discuss the changes with staff.

2 thoughts on “American Public Media Group eliminates jobs in restructuring

  1. This deserves a follow up story. At this moment in time, when equity, diversity, new audiences, community engagement and digital are vital to public media if it’s to remain relevant, APMG fired women (several working on community engagement) and men (working in digital) while shuffling internal silos and promoting the white men at the top to president(s). I wonder how donors and savvy public media funders are going to view APMG in light of these changes.

    • Agreed. Though at this point, this move is quite typical of APM/MPR. There is significant cause for concern around leadership and expertise in their newsroom, within their podcast programming unit, and especially within their membership team.

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