When you visit The Kling Public Media Center in downtown Saint Paul, Abdifatah Warsame is probably the first person you’ll meet. He just might be the nicest, too.

Everyone at MPR knows him as Abdi. In the two years he’s been overseeing the lobby, he’s built a reputation as a steady hand, a hard-working professional and a really decent guy. No matter how busy he is checking guests in, handling calls on the switchboard or sorting mail, he always has a kind word for everyone he meets. In fact, you could make the argument – and some have – that Abdi’s the most popular person in the building.

He was born in Kismayo, Somalia during the worst days of the civil war there. Families, he says, were fleeing as quickly as they could as the country descended into chaos. “We moved so many times,” says Abdi, “that I lost count from one refugee camp to another.”

Those were hard years, but his family was luckier than most. He had a sister who worked for the United Nations office in Nairobi. She helped find a sponsor, which made it possible for them to emigrate to the United States. They arrived in the U.S. on March 10, 2000, when Abdi was nine years old. The family spent their first year in Atlanta.

“I’d never even gone to school until we came to Atlanta,” says Abdi. “I started in the second grade. School was hard for me because all I did was just listen to the ABCs, and not communicate with anyone due to the language barrier.” He didn’t know any English at the time, though he says his favorite song was “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.

In 2001 Abdi’s family moved to Tennessee and remained there until 2009, when they came up to the Twin Cities. Abdi studied at Inver Hills Community College, getting his law enforcement and criminal justice certification. He wanted to be a police officer. And in an odd way, that’s what led him to MPR.

Like many companies in recent years, MPR has prioritized building security and the safety of its employees, as well as its many high profile guests. It was decided that the next receptionist hired should have a background in security.

While security is an important part of his role, it’s his hospitality and welcoming presence that make him an invaluable part of the MPR team. He has an easygoing manner and that relaxed demeanor puts people at ease. He gives impromptu Somali lessons to colleagues who stop by the desk, chats about sports (his favorite teams are the Miami Heat of the NBA, the Tennessee Titans in the NFL and Chelsea in the Premiere League). From famous musicians to politicians and delivery people to MPR Members, Abdi makes everyone feel welcome.

Of course, he’s also a fan of MPR. “I listen to MPR News the most, and sometimes The Current.”

And his favorite part of the job? “My colleagues, and the visitors I talk to,” he says without hesitation. “They make working here fun.”

Media contact: Jen Keavy

New York Times Magazine Columnist Francis Lam Named New Host of The Splendid Table
Lam to host first show March 10 as long-time host Lynne Rossetto Kasper retires later this year

St. Paul, Minn., Feb. 7, 2017—American Public Media today announced that award-winning New York Times Magazine columnist and Top Chef Masters judge Francis Lam will become the new host of The Splendid Table. After 21 seasons, Lynne Rossetto Kasper is retiring at the end of 2017 and will continue to contribute to the program throughout the year until her retirement. Lam will host his first show March 10.

“The tough part of knowing you want to launch a new life is figuring out the ideal person to take over your chair,” said Rossetto Kasper. “In the first five minutes of talking with Francis, I was a fan.” She added, “Besides being a gifted cook and storyteller, he has a delicious sense of humor about food and himself. He instinctively connects with people. Francis is a gem for the next stage of The Splendid Table.”

Francis Lam, new host of The Splendid Table

“I am honored to be the new host of The Splendid Table,” said Lam. “I have always admired Lynne—her knowledge, her turn of phrase, her constant curiosity—but what I admire most is her warmth and generosity of spirit and how that comes through in interviews and listener calls. No one can ever fill her shoes, but I hope to build on the wonderful foundation she has laid for the show and continue the conversation.”

A regular contributor and frequent guest host on The Splendid Table since 2010, Lam is the former Eat columnist for The New York Times Magazine and is Editor-at-Large at Clarkson Potter, a division within Penguin Random House that is a leader in cookbook publishing. In his tenure at Clarkson Potter, he has been the editor behind some of the most creative and best-selling cookbooks and has worked with acclaimed authors, some of the country’s hottest restaurateurs and chefs, as well as celebrities Chrissy Teigen and Questlove. For two seasons, Lam was a regular judge on Bravo’s hit show, Top Chef Masters, a spinoff of Top Chef, where world-renowned chefs competed against each other in weekly challenges.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Francis as our new host,” said Sally Swift, co-creator and managing producer of The Splendid Table. “He is a consummate host—warm, friendly, engaging and curious with serious hands-on culinary chops. Listeners have always had a meaningful connection with the work he’s done with us over the years, and we’re excited to work with him on the next chapter of the show.”


In 2016, Lam won a James Bear­­d Award and two International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Food Writing Awards for his column in The New York Times Magazine. Over the past decade, his writing has been recognized with numerous awards from both organizations, including a James Beard Award in 2014 and IACP Bert Greene Awards for Food Journalism in 2010 and 2014.

Previously, Lam was features editor at Gilt Taste, which was awarded six IACP awards and four James Beard award nominations in its first two years. He also worked as a senior writer at Salon.com and a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine. He’s written for numerous publications, including Bon Appetít, Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, Saveur, Men’s Journal, and the Financial Times.

“As a writer, I’ve always said, I eat food because I love food, and I cook food because I love food, but I write about food because I love people,” said Lam. “Food has always been part of our shared experience and bringing people together through storytelling about food is what excites me most about my new role.”

The oldest of three children, Lam grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, where he says his parents commuted to Chinatown every day, so that “their kids could live in a house with a lawn.” His career and life have taken him from Portland, Ore., to Biloxi, Miss., with stints in Michigan, Wyoming, Maine, as well as Hong Kong. A music aficionado, Lam is a self-proclaimed karaoke expert and admits that football is his “one, true, complicated love” and that “if you can talk food and football, you can have a conversation with anyone in America.”

Lam graduated first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America and holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. He lives with his family in New York City.

 About The Splendid Table
Now in its twenty-first season, The Splendid Table is the show for life’s appetites. A culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates the intersection of food and life, it can be heard on more than 400 public radio stations nationwide, on demand at splendidtable.org and via podcast at iTunes or any podcast app. The show is produced and distributed by American Public Media and has been listed on numerous “best of” podcast lists including a recent nod by the Huffington Post’s Food Editor as the top food podcast to listen to in 2016. The show also was featured on CNN as one of the top five food podcasts of 2016. Find The Splendid Table on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

About American Public Media
American Public Media is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes A Prairie Home Companion®, BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programming in the nation. APM also offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. YourClassical, APM’s lifestyle classical music stream, packages classical music in an unconventional and innovative way with streams suited for life’s biggest moments and everyday situations. For more information about American Public Media, visit americanpublicmedia.org.
Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio. Data are estimates only.

February 1, 2017 – St. Paul, Minn. – Following the success of the first season of APM Reports’ “In the Dark” podcast, American Public Media today announced that the team behind season one has begun work on a second season. The subject and timing of season two have not yet been announced.

The first season of “In the Dark” provided the most comprehensive reporting on the 27-year investigation of the Jacob Wetterling disappearance. The reporting, led by award-winning journalist Madeleine Baran and done over a period of nine months, revealed how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions and the far-reaching implications of the case.

With 5.5 million downloads, the first season of the podcast topped the iTunes charts for weeks as well as numerous “Best Podcast” lists of 2016. In addition to the podcast audience, a five-episode series of adapted “In the Dark” episodes is running on approximately 150 public radio stations across the country – including stations in Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas, San Diego, Charlotte, N.C., and Cleveland.  The combined full-week audience for these stations is more than 5 million. *

“We’re investing in more journalists and resources in fact-based journalism than any time in our history,” said Dave Kansas, American Public Media, executive vice president, and chief content officer. “In the Dark is an example of the type of investigative journalism that is as important as ever. We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing what the team uncovers for the next season.”

Updates from the team over the next year will be shared with listeners via the APM Reports email newsletter.

APM Reports, formed in November 2015, is a collection of investigative journalists and documentary producers, editors, researchers and digital producers dedicated to producing high quality reporting on issues that are often hidden from public view.

*(Source: Nielsen Audio, Persons 12+).

St. Paul, Minn., Jan.24, 2017 — American Public Media announced Nathan Tobey as its new director of On Demand and National Cultural programming. In his new role, Tobey will lead APM’s podcast and On Demand strategy, new content development and current podcast portfolio, which includes Terrible, Thanks For Asking, In The Dark, The Hilarious World of Depression, Brains On!, The Mash-Up Americans and Too Beautiful To Live. He’ll also manage production teams for two national weekly radio (and podcast) shows, The Splendid Table and The Dinner Party Download.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Nate on board at APM,” said Mike Reszler, vice president, innovation and digital strategy at American Public Media Group. “Nate brings his passion for quality journalism along with a deep understanding of audience insights and experience in reinventing audio storytelling for the digital age. He’s already proven to be a leader in the on demand space and we’re thrilled he’s here to help us continue to grow and expand our audiences.”

Most recently at WGBH in Boston, Tobey was recognized with both the Alfred I. duPont and Edward R. Murrow awards for the documentary series, GroundTruth, one of the first podcasts dedicated to in-depth international field reporting. Additionally, he created and launched the hit podcast Masterpiece Studio for WGBH/PBS, which began by covering Downton Abbey’s final season.

Tobey brings extensive experience in audience development and digital strategy. He spent four years at FRONTLINE (PBS) building the next generation of the series’ audience and community. He’s also served as a strategy consultant to a range of public media makers, including the PBS Black Culture Connection and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

“APM built its success through innovation,” Tobey said. “I’m excited to work every day to help create the conditions – freedom, curiosity, teamwork, structure and collaboration – which nourish and renew that culture of innovation for the on demand age. That, more than anything, is how I can help APM stay ahead of the curve.”

About American Public Media

American Public Media is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes A Prairie Home Companion®, BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programming in the nation.  APM also offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. YourClassical, APM’s lifestyle classical music stream, packages classical music in an unconventional and innovative way with streams suited for life’s biggest moments and everyday situations. For more information on American Public Media Group, visit americanpublicmediagroup.org.

New podcast features Marketplace hosts Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood who use their expertise to connect the dots on topics they know best, and get help from listeners and experts about the ones they want to know better.

LOS ANGELES — January 23, 2017 — Today Marketplace announced “Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly,” a new podcast featuring hosts Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, dedicated to getting smart about the economy, tech, culture, and how those things affect each other and our everyday lives.

“Our ultimate goal at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country,” said Ryssdal. “Right now it’s especially important that we work together to identify and understand what’s truly newsworthy. This is exactly what Make Me Smart does.”

The goal of the podcast is to focus on analyzing and understanding, not on headlines and talking points. It’s meant to be an ongoing conversation with other experts and the combined expertise of the listening audience.

“Make Me Smart is really a passion project for both of us,” said Wood. “It’s taking what Kai and I already do at Marketplace and putting it into a new format that allows us to go beyond what we can do on air. This podcast will let us press pause on what’s newsworthy and dive even deeper into the topics that people not only want, but need to hear about.”

The format of the podcast will allow the hosts to combine their expertise with insights from influential leaders, big thinkers and everyday doers in the economy. Together, they’ll dig deeper and combine facts and experts with experiences and discussion to transform information into insight.

The first podcast episode will be available January 24, 2017, followed by new episodes released every Tuesday. Listeners are encouraged to participate actively by contributing to topics and sharing their own experiences through video conversations and additional digital elements throughout the week.  Ryssdal and Wood will kick off Make Me Smart with a Facebook Live chat on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. PT, via the main Marketplace page, and will make these a regular weekly occurrence on Monday mornings.

Listeners can subscribe on iTunes or their favorite podcast app and explore more content and submit suggestions at marketplace.org/makemesmart.

About Marketplace
The Marketplace® portfolio of programs are produced and distributed by American Public Media®, one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world.  Marketplace®, Marketplace Weekend®, Marketplace Morning Report® and Marketplace Tech® are currently broadcast by nearly 800 public radio stations nationwide and heard by more than 13 million weekly listeners.  Marketplace® has the largest broadcast audience of any business news program, on radio or television, in the country.  Marketplace® programs also have a robust digital audience, with more than 4 million podcast downloads and stream requests every month, on apps like iTunes, Slacker and TuneIn.  Marketplace® programs are noted for their timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economics and finance, focusing on the latest national and international business news, the global economy and wider events linked to the financial markets.  For more information on Marketplace® programs, visit marketplace.org.  For more information on American Public Media, visit americanpublicmedia.org.
Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio and StreamGuys. Data are estimates only.

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)