Classical Music Patron Donates $56M to Minnesota Public Radio
American Public Media’s offices in St. Paul Photo by Tony Webster/CC

Classical Music Patron Donates $56M to Minnesota Public Radio

The cash gift will support YourClassical programming and investments in new media technology.

In her first year as the top executive of American Public Media Group (APMG), Jean Taylor on Wednesday announced that an anonymous donor has given $56 million to Minnesota Public Radio.

It’s the largest gift in MPR’s 55-year history. The money will be used to bolster YourClassical programs and fund technological support for new media transmission.

“This extraordinary gift will have a transformative impact on the future of Minnesota Public Radio and the communities we serve,” said Taylor, APMG president and CEO, in a written statement. “It will enable us to deepen and broaden our relevance with a growing audience by delivering compelling content, creating meaningful listening experiences, and advancing MPR’s digital capabilities and infrastructure. Through the generosity and support of this donor—and so many others—we will continue to fulfill our public service mission.”

MPR, a member of APMG, provides programming in three key areas—news and information, classical music, and contemporary music. The donor’s gift will provide financial resources for classical music on a long-term basis.

Because this is a designated gift from the donor, MPR said that it will establish a separate and permanent endowment to ensure that the funds are used to address the donor’s priorities.

“With funds from this gift, MPR will be able to increase national appreciation of classical music and expand audience reach with new programming and technologies,” MPR said in a written statement. “The [funding] allocation between classical programming and new media technologies will be guided by the organization’s strategic priorities. As MPR continues to invest in new media technology, it will serve as a model for digital transformation across APMG.”

YourClassical provides classical music programs through terrestrial radio programs and multiple web-based platforms. Among its nationally syndicated programs are: Pipedreams, SymphonyCast, Composers Datebook, and Performance Today.

As Taylor and her leadership team look at how to fund key priorities at MPR and APMG, this new money gives them more opportunities to innovate and begin new programming.

Taylor drew criticism recently on social media when she announced the elimination of APM Reports, a nationally-focused investigative unit based out of St. Paul. The current.org, a news website that covers public media, reported on June 1 that some journalists attached to APM Reports would shift to jobs with MPR.

“Over the next several weeks, we plan to dissolve APM Reports as a separate business unit and incorporate select programming elements, including our focus on investigative journalism, into MPR News,” Taylor wrote in an email that was reported by the Current news site.

MPR President Duchesne Drew, in an email reported by the Current, said that no decisions had been made about the future of the popular In the Dark podcast that was produced by APM Reports staff.

“We are currently entering a process about what decisions and possible changes will occur with the APM Reports portfolio. No decisions have been made at this time,” according to an email Drew sent to staff, which was quoted in the June 1 Current article.

Drew also serves as a senior vice president with APMG. In Wednesday’s news release on the anonymous donor gift, Drew said, “At MPR, we are committed to being a trusted and independent source of information and inspiration for audiences across a diverse portfolio of programming and channels. More than a quarter of the music we play at YourClassical features a musician, ensemble, or composer who is a woman and/or a Black person, Indigenous person, or person of color.”

With the infusion of dollars from the donor’s gift, Drew said, MPR will “expand representation, grow YourClassical’s presence and accelerate digital innovation to broaden and better serve our classical music community.”

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