Update: MPR news director switcheroo memo

Received MPR Regional News Managing Director Chris Worthington’s memo about yesterday’s still-enigmatic news director shake-up.

First, a teeny bit of decoding. Worthington refers to “uncertain times in the newsroom” five years ago, probably a reference to the brief, unhappy tenure (at least according to my MPR sources) of then-news director Michael Skoler. Wareham, a totally decent guy, was like sour cream after five-alarm chili. His replacement (and Skoler predecessor), Mike Edgerly, reportedly has a bit more of an edge.

Keep in mind, too, Worthington is a very strong presence in MPR’s newsroom, so the news director’s job might not be as all-powerful as it is elsewhere.

By the way, the MPR newsroom also said good-bye to long-time reporter/anchor Greta Cunningham, who quit after having her hours cut substantially in June.

Anyway, here’s the memo:

Effective today, I am reorganizing some key leadership positions in MPR News. Mike Edgerly will replace Bill Wareham as news director and Laura McCallum will become deputy news director.

Bill will move to an editing position, running a team of reporters. He’ll continue to play a key role in managing the newsroom and, given his penchant for all things digital, I expect he’ll also take on a web feature. I have great respect for Bill’s character, integrity, news judgment and commitment to MPR. He has been a great partner for me the past three years and I have every confidence that his talents will shine brightly in this new role.

Recall five years ago — during uncertain times in the newsroom — Bill stepped in and capably ran the place. He was the right person at the right time.

Mike brings a passion for radio news reporting and a clear eye to the many choices media companies are facing today. He is committed to finding and telling the story, regardless the platform. He has overseen most of our high-impact work the past three years and I expect that he’ll make the choices required for that to continue. If you’ve been in the trenches with Mike, you’ve seen his commitment to excellence. We’re in a time of great opportunity for journalism, especially at MPR, and I’m confident that Mike will take us to the next level.

Since moving from the reporting ranks to editing, Laura has shown a decisive, savvy quality in her news direction. As the morning news editor, she’s made tough decisions quickly, improved stories and newscasts on the spot, nurtured young reporters and successfully guided long-term coverage. She’s ready for a larger leadership challenge as deputy news director and I expect she’ll bring a fresh view to the issues facing newsrooms these days.

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