Jobs, shows slashed at Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media

MPR HQ in downtown St. Paul.

MPR HQ in downtown St. Paul. Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune

Minnesota Public Radio and its parent company, St. Paul-based American Public Media, announced a brutal wave of jobs cuts on Tuesday.

APM and MPR are laying off 28 staff members, CEO Jon McTaggart said in a statement, and axing two programs — Chris Thile's variety show Live From Here and John Moe's podcast Hilarious World of Depression. "Revenue sources have dramatically and simultaneously declined" due to the "large and unexpected financial challenge" inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in today's layoffs, McTaggart says. He cites sharp declines in corporate underwriting and sponsorships, among other diminishing cash flows.

In addition to hemorrhaging jobs, APM/MPR will trim its generous executive pay ⁠— which you can view here ⁠— by 20-35 percent, implement furloughs, reduce hours, halt raises, and merge some departments, McTaggart announced. "In making these changes, we are focusing our resources on the programming and services you value most," he added.

Last month, 14 APM/MPR staffers accepted buyouts.  

APM/MPR's union foreshadowed today's moves yesterday, calling for public help while highlighting their journalistic output: 

Launched in 2016, Thile's Live From Here served as the bluegrassy spiritual successor to Prairie Home Companion, the beloved program from disgraced radio legend Garrison Keillor. Moe, the one-time ringleader of APM music/comedy show Wits, started Hilarious World of Depression that same year. 

Click here to read McTaggart's full statement. 

As the New York Times reported in April, media jobs have been devastated by COVID-19. The Poynter Institute updates this depressing list of industry losses almost daily.