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Budget squeeze at Minnesota Public Radio sees 14 take voluntary buyouts

Its parent company says it's facing the 'biggest financial test we've ever faced.'

Facing an unprecedented budget squeeze caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota Public Radio and its parent company American Public Media have confirmed that more than a dozen of its staff have accepted voluntary buyouts.

MPR and APM said in a statement to Bring Me The News that it has had 14 employees apply for buyouts as part of its Voluntary Employee Separation and Furlough Program.

It comes as the radio station/news service and its parent company is facing "the biggest financial test we've ever faced," per an MPR spokesperson.

The buyouts were offered as part of an ongoing effort to "adjust our expenses to our new revenue realities," which has also included reducing executive pay.

Those who applied for the buyouts will leave between late May and early June.

Furthermore, "about the same" number of MPR and APM staff applied for the organization's furlough program, with plans for how these furloughs will be rolled out the subject of discussion with each who applied.

BMTN can confirm that MPR News' interim director Laura McCallum is among those who have taken a buyout, news of which was first reported on Friday by former employee Bob Collins.

McCallum confirmed this shortly after BMTN's story went live, tweeting: "I have decided to leave MPR News at the end of the month, mindful of the challenging financial picture ahead, and through the company's voluntary separation program. After nearly 27 years in various roles, it's time for a change!"

Another who has announced they're leaving is MPR/APM producer Kate Moos, who will leave on May 29 and this summer will join the Minneapolis-based Sahan Journal, a news service covering the Twin Cities' immigrant communities.

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"We are currently facing the biggest financial test we’ve ever faced. As we evaluate a wide range of changes to cut expenses, we’re taking great care with any changes to our programming and with decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of our dedicated employees," said Angie Andresen, managing director of communications at MPR.

"To say we’re grateful to these colleagues for all they’ve done for MPR and their commitment to our ongoing public service is an understatement.

"It’s always difficult to say goodbye to colleagues, and especially so when we can’t do it in person. We will miss each one of these talented people.

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