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American Public Media CEO Jon McTaggart to step down

It comes on the same day that MPR and APM employees called for immediate changes within the organizations.

Jon McTaggart, the CEO of Minnesota Public Radio's parent company American Public Media, is stepping down.

The news was confirmed in an email to APM and MPR employees on Monday, a copy of which was obtained by BMTN, with the news originally broken by the Minnesota Reformer. 

"For the past two years, Jon has been discussing CEO succession with leaders of the board and he believes now is the time to begin the transition to new leadership for APMG," the email from McTaggart and APM board chair Mary Brainer

McTaggart will remain in his role until a successor is announced.

It comes on the same day in which MPR/APM union members called for a series of changes to improve company culture and better reflect the communities it serves after a tumultuous month for the public radio giant, with employees saying they've lost trust in senior leadership.

In the email announcing McTaggart's departure, both he and APM Group Board Chair Mary Brainerd said they have "confidence in the leadership team in place."

This month alone three high-profile MPR employees have left the company. Garrett McQueen, the only Black classical host on MPR, said he was fired after not following programming guidelines. Then, longtime reporter Marianne Combs resigned her position, accusing MPR News of sitting on a story alleging misconduct by a radio DJ on The Current, which is run by MPR.

Fewer than 24 hours after MPR said it was "blindsided" by Combs' departure, it announced The Current's Eric Malmberg would not be back on MPR's airwaves.

Union members launched a "Transform MPR" campaign in response, writing in an open letter: "It’s clear that many of you — and many MPR employees — have lost trust in the company’s senior leaders. We believe this lack of faith hasn’t developed in a vacuum. For decades, the company has mismanaged racial and gender concerns, and we are seeing the results of that today."

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Union members admit the company's culture and MPR's news coverage "routinely prioritizes white audiences and their stories, neglecting communities of color" and says the company has "fostered a harmful working environment for women and journalists of color" throughout its 53-year history, and demanded that the organization adopt a series of recommendations addressing this. 

McTaggart, who is based in the Twin Cities, started at the company as a station manager in Bemidji in 1983.

His role and pay came under scrutiny earlier this year when APM and MPR made a series of layoffs as they dealt with the fallout from the pandemic, with public disclosure documents revealing McTaggart earned $710,214 plus $43,776 in additional compensation in the year up to June 2019 – though it had cut executive pay 20-35% in response to the COVID-19 downturn.

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