GPB places ‘On Second Thought’ on hiatus until 2021

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Georgia Public Broadcasting will suspend production of its radio show On Second Thought next week and reassign staff during an indefinite hiatus.

The show said on Twitter Tuesday that the final broadcast for 2020 will air Sept. 4. “We’ve enjoyed bringing thoughtful, in-depth content and Southern stories — from news and history to art and culture — to the air,” the tweet said. “We look forward to serving our audiences in new ways!”

GPB President Teya Ryan said in a statement to Current that the suspension was a difficult program decision that will “ensure that we can maintain the overall health of the organization.”

“As is the case with most public media stations, the global pandemic has made conducting normal business operations more challenging,” Ryan said. “… We are working hard to sustain the support of underwriters and donors.”

GPB expects to bring the show back sometime early next year, according to Mandy Wilson, a GPB spokesperson. None of the staff on the show team is being laid off, she said.

Host Virginia Prescott will continue to report long-form stories that “On Second Thought listeners have grown to appreciate,” Wilson said. Some will be published under the brand of On Second Thought and others by GPB News.

Responding to a tweet from a listener, Prescott said, “We hope the hiatus will give [Georgia Public Broadcasting] time to build up its budget and we’ll be back! I am going to continue to do interviews and file stories, so stay tuned!” In another Twitter exchange, she told a listener that “the state budget cuts hit GPB hard. Revenue down,” adding “#IBlameCovid.”

The Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, GPB’s licensee, received $13.75 million in state funding for fiscal year 2021, a 10% cut from the previous year.

In other reassignments for On Second Thought staff, supervising producer Emilia Brock will become senior producer for Political Rewind, hosted by Bill Nigut, according to a statement she made on Twitter. She replaces Tom Faust, who told Current that he resigned from GPB earlier this month and plans to focus on his career in real estate.

On Second Thought Producer Pria Mahadevan tweeted that she will join GPB’s podcast department. Wilson said the podcast project is grant-funded.

This is GPB’s second move this year to reduce spending on local productions. In January, the state network reduced its output of original broadcasts of On Second Thought from five days a week to one, airing it Friday mornings. GPB will now pick up all five weekly editions of On Point, produced by WBUR in Boston.

The January budget cuts prompted layoffs attributed to reductions in state funding. A Seat at the Table, a TV public affairs series featuring perspectives of Black women, also lost funding.

On Second Thought launched in 2014 after GPB took over the daytime broadcasts of Georgia State University’s WRAS. Prescott succeeded Celeste Headlee as host in 2018. Shortly after the host transition, On Second Thought went on a summer hiatus so the team could reassess the show’s approach, according to a GPB news release.

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