Minnesota Public Radio Fires Only Black Announcer

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Minnesota Public Radio Fires Only Black Announcer

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:48 pm

Minnesota Public Radio has fired its only Black announcer.
Minnesota Public Radio has fired its only Black classical music host Garrett McQueen. McQueen announced his firing on his social media accounts Thursday morning.

McQueen said he was taken off the air after his shift on Aug. 25. He was then given two warnings — one of which was about his need to improve communication and the other warning was for switching out scheduled music to play pieces he felt were more appropriate to the moment and more diverse, McQueen told MPR News.

“When things happened in the news or when there were hours of programming that only represented dead white men, I would take it upon myself to change that,” said McQueen. “That always got lots of really positive feedback, but it's not exactly what protocol calls for.”

In a statement a day after McQueen’s announcement, MPR president Duchesne Drew and APM president Dave Kansas said the company’s decision was “not sudden and came after several conversations with Garrett.”

“The warnings presented to Garrett were not tied to his choice of music or the reasons for his unauthorized changes to playlists,” they wrote in the statement Friday. “The manner in which he made changes is what caused an issue. We have a process in place for changing playlists, and that process exists to maintain our more than 200 partner stations’ compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and to ensure royalties are properly paid for the music played.”

McQueen joined Classical 24 in June 2018. Classical 24 is co-produced by American Public Media and Public Radio International, and provides round-the-clock classical music that public radio stations across the nation pay to carry. McQueen worked the overnight shift Monday through Thursday. McQueen also hosted Classical MPR’s first-ever Juneteenth special.

“And let's just face it,” said McQueen, “with [the killing of] George Floyd and all of those things, there was a lot of pressure for me to engage the audience while that's happening. I'm on the air, literally while the 3rd Precinct is being burned down. So, it's my responsibility to make sure that the programming spoke to that and that's what I did.”

McQueen co-created a classical music podcast called “Trilloquy” with Classical MPR host Scott Blankenship. The podcast seeks to explore and uplift classical music of all cultures beyond the Western European canon.

Blankenship said in addition to being a professional bassoonist, McQueen brings to his work a deep knowledge of the history behind classical music — stories that are sometimes problematic.

He said McQueen has been a tireless advocate for diversifying classical music.

“His ideas on programming [are] very forward thinking,” said Blankenship. “I think that over time, you would definitely see the sort of changes that Garrett had in mind — but it's 10 or 15 years in the future. And he was working to facilitate that change now."

The company’s management declined a request for an interview, but MPR’s Drew and APM’s Kansas said in their statement that the company values McQueen’s contributions to its commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in classical music and it’ll “remain steadfast in pursuing that commitment.”
This is an absolute disgrace. I don't know what pieces he managed to switch in, but anything would have been an improvement over their normal snoozeworthy programming in that time slot (which was carried on KUSC in Los Angeles for a while). Their programming is the most boring, anodyne stuff imaginable.

david johnson
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Re: Minnesota Public Radio Fires Only Black Announcer

Post by david johnson » Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:58 am

If he signed on as announcer rather than programmer he fouled up. 'Dead white men' is racist. MPR should have given him some programming leeway. Both sides messed it up.

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Re: Minnesota Public Radio Fires Only Black Announcer

Post by Rach3 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:19 am

Mr.Johnson makes some interesting points. Firing an employee for not doing their job as instructed is not, ipso facto, unwarranted especially if the employee had been previously warned as apparently the case here.Would be good to know what pieces were deleted, what substituted, and what reasons management gave employee for not permitting previous leeway the announcer may have requested in view of their response here they were trying to increase diversity in programming.Would also be good to know how much of a problem is created for stations purchasing the MPR programs paying royalties on the published playlist only to have that list changed day of broadcast.As an aside, I do listen on occasion to APM/MPR and do not find their programming " boring."

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Re: Minnesota Public Radio Fires Only Black Announcer

Post by Rach3 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:32 am

A solo piano work and recording I originally posted about on 9/11/2018, composer-pianist Karen Walwyn's "Reflections on 9-11":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ-d_Fz ... aE&index=1

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