Submitted by Rachel Dennis (she/her)

Rachel Dennis
Rachel Dennis

We welcome, talk to and refer to a lot of people around here – in person, on the phone, on air, and in writing. They are our colleagues, candidates, vendors, sources, members, board members and guests, etc. And they don’t all go by “he” or “she.”

In the last six months or so, the EQualizers Employee Resource Group has been forming and exploring the question, “How do we create a safer space for folks who are transgender and gender-nonconforming?”

On Monday the EQs invited Alex Nelson from RECLAIM! to talk with us about gender identity. We covered terminology, statistics, and building sensitivity through the thoughtful use of language.

One of the things about language is that there are folks out there that don’t use pronouns limited to just “he” or “she.” And we’re interacting with them whether we know it or not. One way we can create a safer space for people to be themselves is to mark ourselves as people (and as an organization) who get and respect that. Maybe it’s by offering our pronouns when we introduce ourselves which creates an opportunity for another to do the same, or by removing binary language from things like our employee handbook. For most of us, it’ll take some new language and some new habits, and Alex emphasized the effectiveness of practicing until we get the hang of it. Practice is good.

On Wednesday, October 25 the EQs hosted a Traveling Coffee Break* in the lobby at HQ and started practicing with a wider group. Some of us wore nametags that volunteered the pronouns we go by or prompted colleagues to ask us about it. Some of us shared our take-aways from Monday’s training session – like trying to remember the difference between gender orientation, expression, and identity (what you know, what you show, and what you claim). And naturally, some of us focused on the coffee and delicious treats and the chance to be with colleagues away from our desks.

*An MPR tradition: various employee groups or departments host coffee breaks on a semi-regular basis. They could be located anywhere in the St. Paul HQ, thus the ‘traveling’ moniker.

Julia Schrenkler shares updates on the event – including an all-important brownie alert!


Some of the delicious goodies at the EQ's Traveling Coffee Break. Photo submitted by Joe Juvland (he/him)
Some of the delicious goodies at the EQ’s Traveling Coffee Break. Photo submitted by Joe Juvland (he/him)

MPR News at the ThreeSixty Journalism Gala. Clockwise from left (back row): Laura McCallum, Linda Miller, Doualy Xaykaothao, Elizabeth Dunbar, Will Lager, Ka Vang, Emma Sapong, Marcheta Fornoff and Marianne Combs.

Submitted by Marianne Combs, Arts Reporter and Producer, MPR News

I love a good bake sale – especially when it’s for a cause I can really get behind – and October’s bake sale at MPR will go down as one of my all-time favorites.


Each year MPR participates in a fundraising campaign for ThreeSixty Journalism, a program run by the University of St. Thomas that teaches ethnically diverse high school students how to tell their stories, and attempts to instill in them a love of journalism. As a media organization that recognizes the importance of a multicultural workforce, we know it’s critical to help foster talent at an early age.

Last week our in-house fundraising campaign culminated in a bake sale with contributions from some of the best bakers in the newsroom. Digital Producer Nancy Yang created a “Purple Rain” cake in honor of Prince; reporters Solveig Wastvedt and Peter Cox each whipped up batches of pumpkin muffins and ginger snaps, and editor Meg Martin turned out fudge and biscotti. Even our Executive Director of News and Programming Nancy Cassutt brought in some Rice Krispies treats.

Purple Rain cake.

And our co-workers responded in kind with amazing generosity. By the end of the day we had raised $4,400 for the ThreeSixty Journalism program. That’s a record for us, and it placed us once again as the top media donor – outgiving the Star Tribune, KARE 11 and several other local media sponsors.

There’s another reason this bake sale was particularly important. In past years the fundraising campaign was run by our beloved colleague Toni Randolph, who died last summer. Toni was a mentor to many budding reporters, and a champion for diversity. We felt it was important not just to match what she raised in past years, but to go even further, in her honor.

Gold Sponsors!

So it was particularly gratifying for me last Friday to attend the ThreeSixty Journalism fundraising and awards dinner, where I got to meet some of the amazing high school seniors that benefit from the program. They are smart, enthusiastic, motivated young men and women, and I have no doubt they will go far.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s bake sale, and to breaking more records, as we take our commitment to diversity in journalism forward.

Toni would be thrilled.

Amanda at Clockwork’s HQ for the first MN Tech Diversity Meetup.
Photo credit: N. Musinguzi


Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams

In June we announced our alignment with the MN Tech Diversity Pledge movement launched by Clockwork, a Twin Cities interactive firm led by Nancy Lyons.

We promised to update you on our inclusion journey via this blog. Inclusion and diversity goals are embedded in APMG’s strategic plan – both in terms of staffing and audience. So much activity is happening that contributes to these goals, it’s actually a challenge to track it. That’s one of the things Amanda Williams has on her plate, in the newly-created role of Culture & Inclusion Director.

Amanda joined APMG in September and immediately got to work building our relationships with the MN Tech Diversity partner organizations such as Clockwork, BrandLab and Penumbra Theater. In her words:

I attended the inaugural MN Tech Diversity meetup on October 11th, a gathering of companies who have pledged to put resources, energy and attention to attracting and retaining talent from communities underrepresented in the Twin Cities tech sector.  It was fun, informative, and inspiring.  As a new employee at APMG responsible for culture and inclusion, I was happy to see the enthusiasm and genuine commitment of all of the partner companies making the MN Tech Diversity Pledge.  I look forward to this continued collaboration as we work toward a more inclusive culture here at APMG.

We’re excited to have Amanda on board! This new role is a commitment to further the inclusion goals we’ve set forth as an organization, building on the momentum of many other activities, initiatives and the commitment of leadership.

Team Marketplace: Kristina Lopez, Jeni Hatfield, Donna Tam, Meggan Ellingboe, Katie Long, Raghu Manavalan, Michelle Mencio, Hayley Hershman, Marcus Galamay


We have exciting news to report – Team KPCC finished in 3rd Place out of 24 teams at the 2016 Asian-American Journalists Association Trivia Bowl! Team Marketplace made a strong debut by breaking into the Top 10.  Just ahead of KPCC in the top 2 spots were the two teams from the Los Angeles Times. The Trivia Bowl tests knowledge on current events, science, history, geography, California, sports, pop culture, literature, and arts & entertainment. These were tough questions and obscure facts. APGM

The Trivia Bowl is the signature fundraising event of the AAJA, supporting students who pursue the journalism profession; providing increased training to Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists so they can be effective leaders for positive change in the industry with a commitment to diversity in the newsroom, and forging stronger ties within the AAPI communities.

We’d like to recognize the following KPCC team members for their hard-fought achievement, see image below. Thank you to those from Marketplace for coming out and building a foundation for future participation.

Team KPCC: Ben Bergman
Kevin Ferguson, James Kim, Sachi Kobayashi, Roy Lenn, Mary Marcus, Aaron Mendelson, Becca Murray, Quincy Surasmith, Maura Walz


Submitted by Brian Newhouse, Host, Managing Director, Classical Programming

On Monday, October 3, I was thrilled to host the first-ever joint concert between two choral supergroups: Cantus (based in Mpls) and Chanticleer (based in San Francisco). Classical MPR broadcast the sold-out concert live from Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on a number of platforms including a Facebook live stream.

This was exciting for several reasons:

  • They’d never done this before, as they are essentially competitors. (Imagine if Infiniti and Lexus decided to make a really cool car together – in our backyard!)
  • The groups were inspired to collaborate after a chance encounter last February. They happened to find themselves touring in the same area and agreed to go into a bar and sing together; a grainy five-minute iPhone video of that night went wildly viral, drawing nearly one million views in 24 hours.
  • Orchestra Hall was sold out for the October 3rd concert; so Classical MPR was the only way anyone else could enjoy this concert.
  • With huge credit to our colleagues managing the broadcast and technical details, we fed video/audio of the concert directly into Facebook Live, via our Choral Stream page. This was in addition to our live radio broadcast on Classical MPR and the stream.
  • We asked both choirs to share Choral Stream links to their networks of fans around the country, and the world.
  • And we created an audience engagement piece to support our connections goals, too.

It was such an honor for me to host this historic event, but what was especially cool was watching the Facebook Live action while I tried to keep one eye on what was going on, onstage! We averaged 1500 viewers at any time during the concert. And about 20,000 people viewed the live feed for some length of time, and another 15,000 have watched the on-demand video excerpts. (Sadly, we’re going to have to take the videos down due to the rights agreements we abide by.)

It was so gratifying to see comments stream in during the concert from Australia, Japan, Germany, the UK, and dozens of States here in the US. The very best thing, though, were how heartfelt the comments were, one after another, that thanked Classical MPR for offering this service to those who couldn’t make it to Minneapolis.