A couple of days ago I wrote about a $1.5 million to $2 million budget shortfall at Minnesota Public Radio and its national programming sibling American Public Media. Today comes news that APM has canceled the long-struggling Saturday program “Weekend America.”
The national show, which like MPR programming is produced in St. Paul, already suffered cutbacks this year; the last broadcast is Jan. 31. Axing a single two-hour program probably doesn’t “solve” the combined APM/MPR shortfall, but laying off 13 people is clearly part of some solution.
Update: Margaret Ann Hennen, APM’s VP of Corporate Communications, says, “Yes, there will be further reductions, but we don’t know when or what. This is part of the alignment of revenues and expenses … that has been going on for the last year. We continue to make very methodical decisions.”
In my earlier piece, an MPR spokeswoman said they would try to cut in ways listeners wouldn’t notice, but some will clearly miss the noon-2 p.m. show.
Here’s the release:
American Public Media is cancelling weekly production and distribution of Weekend America as a result of the current economy’s impact on station carriage and sponsorships. The final broadcast will be January 31, 2009. Thirteen full- and part-time positions will be affected. Weekend America is carried on 134 stations with a weekly audience of about 657,000 listeners.
American Public Media is proud of the many accomplishments of Weekend America’s talented staff. They have produced personal, thoughtful, funny and challenging journalism that you couldn’t hear anywhere else. The program topics ranged from in-depth reporting on the fallout from the Iraqi war, multi-part series on foreclosure and immigration, and the lessons of racism. The hosts and reporters also engaged people all across America on their weekends, skydiving or dancing or giving concerts or celebrating the diverse cultures and festivals of our country.