Media Executive Dave Kansas to Leave APMG Amid a Restructuring
Dave Kansas, a key executive at American Public Media Group (APMG) since 2011, will leave the nonprofit because of a leadership reorganization developed by new CEO Jean Taylor.
Kansas, who built a national pedigree in print journalism, joined APMG as chief operating officer of American Public Media (APM). He was chosen by then-CEO Jon McTaggart more than a decade ago from a field of 100-plus candidates. In 2016, Kansas was promoted to American Public Media president and APMG executive vice president.
APMG is the parent of American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), which is familiar to listeners across the state. That dual structure caught the attention of Taylor, who became president and CEO of American Public Media Group in August.
She outlined a staff restructuring in an internal company memo last week.
“To accelerate our Audiences First 2025 Strategy, we are eliminating our two-division structure (APM/MPR),” according to an APM/MPR media statement released late Monday. “This change will allow us to operate as a single organization with multiple audiences and brands, resulting in strengthened alignment and collaboration across the organization and improved efficiency.”
APM president’s job eliminated
The public media organization declined to release the internal restructuring memo to Twin Cities Business. However, a spokeswoman provided the news about Kansas in a written statement. “As a result of this [restructuring] change, the position of president, APM, has been eliminated and Dave Kansas has chosen to leave the organization,” spokeswoman Tsering Yangchen said in the statement.
“Dave made significant contributions in his 10 years and has agreed to remain for a brief transition period,” Yangchen said in the statement. Kansas was not immediately available to comment on his public media tenure or career plans.
Kansas is among a prominent group of print journalists to make a career leap to public broadcasting. When he was hired in 2011, the announcement noted that he had experience in many positions with Dow Jones & Co. and The Wall Street Journal, including reporter, online deputy managing editor, European markets editor, and chief markets commentator.
Nancy Barnes, former executive editor of the Star Tribune, later became senior vice president for news and editorial director of National Public Radio. Sacha Pfeiffer, who was part of a Pulitzer Prize reporting team that investigated clergy sex abuse for the Boston Globe, is now a correspondent and guest host for NPR.
Taylor, who served on the APMG board before becoming its top executive, also has a newspaper background. She is the former board chair of the Star Tribune, which is owned by her father, Glen Taylor.
In an October profile in TCB, Taylor said she wanted to spend time “listening and learning and assessing” before making major changes within the organization. She has been talking to employees, donors, and other stakeholders
While McTaggart spent the bulk of his career in public media, Taylor has an extensive background in the private sector. She was a Taylor Corp. executive for 16 years. Before becoming APMG CEO, she spent 11 years in what she describes as “active governance.”
She was serving on boards and also working as an advisor “to actively support and assist management as they were moving companies forward,” she said. After analyzing many different businesses and organizations, Taylor leveraged that experience to assess how APM and MPR leaders and structures were serving their audiences.
High-profile work in journalism, community
Early in his tenure with American Public Media, Kansas did an interview with Twin Cities Business.
When asked in 2013 what he did as chief operating officer, Kansas said: “It’s very eclectic. I’m responsible for all content and, I joke, everything from Bemidji to the BBC—from making sure the transmitter towers work to our business program, Marketplace, to hosting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”
At the time, Kansas explained why the public media job was a good fit for him. “It miraculously combined my background in business journalism with my love of music, particularly classical music,” Kansas said. “If I had written my own description for a job I’d like, I would’ve had a hard time coming up with something more attractive.”
Before shifting to a leadership role in public media, Kansas was well-known nationally in business journalism circles. In 2006, he served as president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
Locally, Kansas became director of Bethel University’s Johnson Center for Journalism and Communication in 2016. He took on this role on the Arden Hills campus on top of his full-time position with public media.
“Faithful journalists have a special and deep interest in seeking truth,” Kansas said in an interview posted on the Bethel website. “I feel in the current climate—where people have a complex relationship with facts—that seeking of truth is more important than ever.”
Kansas, a St. Paul native, didn’t graduate from Bethel. He began his undergraduate career at Macalester College, where he played football. He later transferred to Columbia University in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree in history.
Kansas is a 1985 graduate of St. Paul Academy and Summit School, where he currently serves on the board of trustees.