Press Releases

New Faces and New Voices at MPR News

October 23, 2014

St. Paul, Minn. — (St. Paul, Minn.)--- October 23, 2014--MPR News today is pleased to announce a new addition to its leadership team and new audio programs for its audiences. Jonathan Blakley, formerly of NPR, will join the newsroom as its new program director, beginning next week. He will oversee radio programming and audio content development within the newsroom. Part of his new portfolio will include a variety of new podcasts that will showcase new voices discussing a range of topics.

"Jonathan's radio roots run deep. He tells wonderful stories about growing up in a Detroit house with different radio shows resonating throughout," said Chris Worthington, managing director of MPR News. "We welcome his passion for radio and his breadth of news reporting experience to our newsroom." After graduating from Western Michigan University, Blakley helped launch all-news WKZO Radio in Kalamazoo and also worked at Detroit's WWJ CBS Radio before embarking on a global career. At NPR, Blakley worked as a producer/editor overseeing its Baghdad bureau operations during the war. He has produced stories from the Philippines, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. Blakley also has followed an academic path at Harvard where he was a Nieman Fellow, primarily studying the Middle East and social media at the Kennedy School of Government.

"I am extraordinarily excited and honored to become part of the award-winning MPR News newsroom. It's one of the brightest gems in public radio, and I get to return to my native Midwest," Blakley said. "One of my first childhood memories is my father giving me a hand-sized, nine-volt battery-powered transistor radio that I listened to under my pillow every night. I look forward to guiding MPR News to a new and diverse generation of loyal listeners. Whether they tune us in via transistor radio or the next fancy mobile device, our audiences statewide will get the important reporting and thoughtful analysis they depend on and surely deserve." New podcasts will be part of that new and diverse generation. Geared towards a mobile listening audience, the shows are hosted by a collection of Minnesotans who represent the voices, perspectives and interests of MPR News audiences. Podcast offerings include shows on biking, culture and health, along with diverse views of the news and life.

"We know more than 50 percent of our listeners find us on mobile devices and don't always make an appointment with their radio. We also know that there's passionate interest in these topics," Worthington said. "We believe podcasts will be a great way to connect with these communities, bring their voices to the forefront and to experiment with how we develop content or tell stories."

The six new podcasts are:

Counter Stories - A weekly conversation on life and the news in Minnesota, from the perspective of members of the state's communities of color. The show will feature regular panelists Don Eubanks, assistant professor of Social Work at Metro State University and member of Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe; Luz Frias with the Minneapolis Foundation; Anthony Galloway, West Metro learning specialist, and Hlee Lee, a Hmong creative professional.

Pedal Hub - A weekly discussion devoted to biking and biking enthusiasts in the Twin Cities. Featuring Gene Oberpriller, owner of One on One Bike Studio in Minneapolis; Amber Dallman, physical activity coordinator for the State Health Department and spokeswoman for St. Paul Women on Bikes; and Patrick Stephenson, founder of 30 Days of Biking and Star Tribune biking blogger.

Pop Till We Drop - Three 20-somethings take on our pop culture obsessed world, featuring University of Minnesota Radio K alums Tess Weinberg, Alex Gaterud and Shelby Thomason. Minnesota Next - An interview series exploring Minnesota's future from the point of view of people who will be living in it. It will be hosted by card-carrying millennial Maddy Mahon, an MPR News producer.

The Interpreters - A weekly podcast on culture, how we live, how we communicate with each other, what we value, traditions and trends. Regular panelists are writer and artist Andy Sturdevant; Molly Priesmeyer, writer and Star Tribune blogger; Ben Heywood, executive director of the Soap Factory in Minneapolis; and Saymoukda Vongsay, a playwright and poet.

Hallberg's Picture of Health - Weekly conversations between MPR News medical commentator Dr. Jon Hallberg and All Things Considered host Tom Crann, exploring health, wellness, health care, and medicine.

About MPR News

MPR News has long been recognized as one of the foremost journalistic organizations in the Upper Midwest, reaching news consumers across all platforms. Reaching more than 500,000 listeners each week, the MPR News radio signal can be heard by 95 percent of Minnesotans, it distributes stories daily to 35 newspapers statewide, shares news coverage with KARE 11 - Minnesota's largest television station -and has news bureaus around the state and in Washington, D.C. More at Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio. Data are estimates only. ###

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