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Minnesota Public Radio announces 28 job cuts, end of 'Live From Here with Chris Thile'

The broadcaster and news service is under major budget pressure.

Minnesota Public Radio has announced it is making 28 job cuts and ending two shows – including the show that replaced A Prairie Home Companion – in the wake of ongoing budget pressures.

MPR and American Public Media confirmed the staff reduction on Tuesday, saying it's also cut executive pay between 20-35 percent, canceled 2021 pay rises, reduced working hours, and "implemented voluntary separations and furloughs."

It comes a day after the MPR/APM Union made a plea for support from the public, saying it has "urged them not to lay off journalists amid the biggest news stories of our lifetimes."

It's also been just over a month since 14 staff members, including MPR News director Laura McCallum, took voluntary staff buyouts at the St. Paul news organization.

As well as the staff cuts, MPR has announced the cancellation of Live From Here with Chris Thile, the variety show that was created from the remains of A Prairie Home Companion after Garrison Keillor's firing and split from the broadcaster.

Also canceled is The Hilarious World of Depression podcast hosted by John Moe.

Among those announcing they're leaving MPR/The Current is multimedia producer Nate Ryan and podcast producer Jeyca Maldonado.

Meanwhile, the MPR/APM Union says that the MPR News newsroom hasn't been too significantly impacted.

Economic turmoil amid pandemic

The cuts are the result of the "widespread economic turmoil and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," with MPR and APM saying it is "facing a large and unexpected financial challenge."

"Like all our media peers, over the past few months, some of our revenue sources have dramatically and simultaneously declined, particularly from regional and national underwriting, corporate sponsorship, national program distribution, ticketed events, custom travel, financial investments and other earned income," it said.

"While recent MPR and APM member drives and emergency fundraising efforts have been successful, with gifts from our Board and other donors, the generosity of our valued contributors is unfortunately not enough to offset the rapid loss of revenue we are experiencing."

MPR says the cuts it made were done in a way that "aligned with our mission, values and long-term vision" and "protects our core strengths."

"In making these changes, we are focusing our resources on the programming and services you value most," it said. 

It added:

"We will find new ways to give you more control over when and how you listen, and greater access to our content on your favorite media devices. We’ll offer fresh, distinctive programming that deepens our value to you and attracts new audiences. We will double-down on trusted, in-depth information that engages and equips you to make informed decisions about your health, the economy and our democracy. And we will invest in understanding and addressing the systemic issues of racism and inequities further exposed by the killing of George Floyd."

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