Mary Pruess, the former GM of WQPT in the Quad Cities region of Illinois who led capital planning and fundraising for the station, has retired.
Pruess joined the public TV station in 2013 and oversaw an office move, restructuring of its master control and an expansion of local productions. In 2018, she left her GM role to direct planning of capital projects and help lead the station’s $2.4 million capital campaign, “Aspire Higher.”
At Pruess’ retirement, the campaign had raised 86% of its goal and was preparing to launch its public phase Jan. 9, according to a Dec. 10 news release.
“In the 36 years that WQPT has been on the air, this is only the second time we have had a capital campaign,” Pruess said. “The first was when WQPT was first conceived, and now with new technology coming, it is time to make this investment to continue and better serve our community.”
Pruess started her public broadcasting career at KICR Radio at the University of Iowa in the early 1970s. She moved on to KAET-TV in Phoenix and later became a program manager for KHUT-TV in Houston. In the early 1990s, she joined the Public Television Programmers’ Association as an executive.
Pruess moved into station management in 1993 as VP of WHRO in Norfolk, Va. She became WHRO’s chief content officer and GM in 2001. Before joining WQPT, she served as president and GM of WNIT in South Bend, Ind., from 2002 to 2012.
Nancy Cassutt has left Minnesota Public Radio’s newsroom to take a year-long assignment with Marketplace.
Cassutt, who became executive director at MPR in 2016, is moving to Los Angeles to become managing director for American Public Media’s signature business news program Marketplace. She joined American Public Media in 2010 after more than 10 years as an executive with Internet Broadcasting, which was later acquired by Nexstar Digital. She was also a reporter, editor and director for several television stations, including WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Minn.
Laura McCallum, MPR News’ managing editor for daily news, has been named the interim director of MPR News.
“This will be a smooth transition, I’m committed to that,” Cassutt said, according to a spokesperson at MPR. “I see my exit as an opportunity for new energy as well as a path forward for others to step in and step up. I also see this as an opportunity to attract new leadership onto our management team.”
Cassutt plans to return to MPR in a new role after the Marketplace assignment ends.
Justin Bank will join NPR this month as senior director for digital news and strategy.
He’ll work on creating a new strategy for digital news and programming, said Nancy Barnes, SVP of news, in a note announcing his hiring to newsroom staff. His first day on the job is Jan. 13.
Most recently, Bank worked as a consultant for news media companies and startups. He was also a coach for the Facebook-sponsored Local News Accelerator, a program created to help local publishers increase revenues and engagement.
From 2014–18, he worked for the New York Times as deputy editor of audience development and senior editor of audience. Previously, he was an editor for the Washington Post’s digital team, monitoring search, traffic and audience engagement. Bank started his journalism career as a staff writer for FactCheck.org from 2005–10.
WBEZ’s Shannon Heffernan is one of 13 local journalists selected to participate in ProPublica’s third annual Local Reporting Network.
Heffernan, the only public media reporter in this year’s class, will collaborate with ProPublica senior editors on investigative stories. ProPublica reimburses news organizations for each participant’s salary and benefits for one year.
“It’s heartening to see so many news organizations that want to dig into serious issues in their local communities,” said Charles Ornstein, ProPublica deputy managing editor, in a news release. “We’re excited to give them the time, resources and support to do just that. At a time of cutbacks in our industry, we need more accountability reporting, not less.”
Heffernan joined Chicago’s WBEZ in 2011. Her reporting focuses on criminal justice, mental health, poverty, labor and climate change.
She has won numerous journalism honors, including a National Murrow from the Radio Television and Digital News Association, a PRNDI from the Public Media Journalists Association, and awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. Outside of journalism, Heffernan has written short fiction for the Indiana Review and the Columbia Review.
Kim Macon, development director for WVPE based in Elkhart and South Bend, Ind., retired this month. Macon joined the public radio station in 1993 to help improve underwriting and membership. She also oversaw community events promoting music and arts performances. Tom Labuzienski, an underwriting account executive who has worked with WVPE since 2013, will take over as development director. He spent 31 years of his career as a sales manager for WSBT22, a dual CBS/Fox-affiliated TV station serving Northern Indiana and the southern portion of Western Michigan.
Jennifer Shell joined Vegas PBS as educational technology utilization and project management coordinator. She works with the educational media services department to manage grants and promote the use of instructional television programs that the station provides to its licensee, the Clark County School District. Most recently, Shell managed education and community engagement at WLJT, the PBS station in Martin, Tenn. She previously worked as a high school teacher.
Matt Collette is the new EP of Trump, Inc., a production of WNYC in New York City and ProPublica that examines President Donald J. Trump and alleged corruption within his administration. Collette has been senior producer of Post Reports, the Washington Post’s daily news podcast, for the past year, according to Andrew Golis, WNYC’s chief content officer. Before that, he spent nearly 5 years at WNYC working on projects across WNYC News and Studios, including the podcast Nancy. “As many here can attest, Matt is a talented storyteller, has great ideas, and runs a tight ship,” Golis told Current.
Jared Bennett will join the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting at Louisville Public Media this month as an investigative reporter. Bennett previously reported for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C. He has also worked as a digital producer for WBUR in Boston and as a producer and reporter for WERS in Boston, Mass.
An Uong is leaving public media work to become a community manager for Wethos, a marketing company based in New York that works with nonprofits. Uong has been with AIR Media as an engagement strategist, editor and community liaison since 2016. She also interned at New York Public Radio for nine months.
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Correction: Due to an editing error, this story previously said Nancy Cassutt was executive director of MPR News for nine years. She became executive director in 2016 but has worked for its parent company, American Public Media, since 2010.