Minnesota Public Radio News has added Jonathan Blakely, formerly of National Public Radio, to its leadership team as program director.
Blakely will oversee radio programming and audio content development within the newsroom. Part of Blakely’s new portfolio will include a variety of new podcasts.
After graduating from Western Michigan University, Blakely helped to launch all-news WKZO(AM) in Kalamazoo, Mich., and also worked at Detroit’s WWJ(AM) CBS Radio. At NPR, Blakely worked as a producer/editor overseeing its Baghdad bureau operations during the war. He has produced stories from the Philippines, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. He also was a Nieman Fellow, studying the Middle East and social media at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
The new podcasts will be geared towards a mobile listening audience of Minnesotans.
“We know more than 50% of our listeners find us on mobile devices and don’t always make an appointment with their radio. We also know that there’s passionate interest in these topics,” said Chris Worthington, managing director of MPR News. “We believe podcasts will be a great way to connect with these communities, bring their voices to the forefront and to experiment with how we develop content or tell stories.”
The six new podcasts are:
- “Counter Stories” — A weekly conversation on life and news in Minnesota, from the perspective of the state’s communities of color. The show will feature panelists Don Eubanks, assistant professor of Social Work at Metro State University and member of Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe; Luz Frias with the Minneapolis Foundation; Anthony Galloway, West Metro learning specialist, and Hlee Lee, a Hmong creative professional
- “Pedal Hub” — A weekly discussion devoted to biking in the Twin Cities. Featuring Gene Oberpriller, owner of One on One Bike Studio in Minneapolis; Amber Dallman, physical activity coordinator for the State Health Department and spokeswoman for St. Paul Women on Bikes; and Patrick Stephenson, founder of 30 Days of Biking and Star Tribune biking blogger
- “Pop Till We Drop” — Three 20-somethings take on pop culture, featuring University of Minnesota Radio K alums Tess Weinberg, Alex Gaterud and Shelby Thomason
- “Minnesota Next” — An interview series exploring the state’s future from the point of view of those who will be living in it. It will be hosted by Maddy Mahon, an MPR News producer
- “The Interpreters”— A weekly podcast on culture, how we live, how we communicate with each other, what we value, traditions and trends. Panelists are writer/artist Andy Sturdevant; Molly Priesmeyer, writer and Star Tribune blogger; Ben Heywood, executive director of the Soap Factory in Minneapolis; and Saymoukda Vongsay, a playwright and poet
- “Hallberg’s Picture of Health” — Weekly conversations between MPR News medical commentator Dr. John Hallberg and “All Things Considered” Host Tom Crann, exploring health, wellness, healthcare and medicine