Employees at Maine Public accept voluntary retirement offers

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At least three employees of Maine Public have accepted voluntary retirement offers from the station as executives aim to get ahead of long-term budget concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Music hosts Sara Willis and Robin Rilette will leave the station in October, according to Maine Public CEO Mark Vogelzang. A third employee who asked not be identified also accepted the offer. Vogelzang said additional employees also took the offer but declined to specify how many.

Willis and Rilette informed listeners over the air of their decisions. At least one reporter will also retire this year.

“Sara and Robin are dedicated to public radio and their impact on Maine Public cannot be quantified in any way,” Vogelzang said in a press release. “Our listeners have grown accustomed to their voices and the content that they curated and created. While we are sad to see them leave, we are excited to see what their next adventures will be!”

Willis hosted the contemporary music program In Tune for the past 19 years and has been with the station for 30 years. Rebroadcasts of her show will be available online in a 24/7 stream, and her shows will be rebroadcast on weekends starting next month. Vogelzang said he has not decided whether she will be replaced on-air.

Rilette has hosted the Morning Classical program for six years. Before that, she worked for Northwest Public Radio in Pullman, Wash., for 23 years.

Vogelzang said the retirement offers were a “proactive move” to help with the station’s financial stability in years to come.

“We don’t know what future revenues will be like as this goes on, so we’re being cautious and prudent about how we’re budgeting,” Vogelzang said. “The prudence here is very much on my mind to make sure we can work through COVID. So far, we’ve been lucky.”

“We’re fortunate, and I know how difficult it is for every small organization or large organization, media or not,” Vogelzang added. “We value the people who are doing the work day in and day out, and we really value the people who have devoted their careers here at Maine Public.”

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