Paul F. Tompkins (left) and John Moe enjoy golden days of "Wits."/ Photo provided by APM

The future of Minnesota Public Radio just got a little murkier.

Less than a week after Garrison Keillor confirmed that he'd be leaving "Prairie Home Companion," American Public Media announced that it was canceling the radio version of "Wits," while putting the podcast and live shows on hold. APM, based in St. Paul, produces both shows.

"I'm devastated at the loss of our radio show and, frankly, I feel like I've let people down," wrote creator and host John Moe as part of a flurry of tweets he sent out Monday morning.

The decision comes on the heels of Minnesota Public Radio eliminating 11 positions from its newsroom.

"Wits," which launched locally in 2010, had been picked up by over a hundred markets across the country with hopes that its blend of music and comedy would attract younger viewers to public radio. While only 13 percent of MPR members are under 35, one of every four new members is coming from that demographic.

In a 2014 Star Tribune story about “Wits,” APM and MPR’s chief operating officer, Dave Kansas, stressed the importance of reaching millennials. “Assuming younger audiences will come along like their parents did is a very dangerous assumption,” he said. “You have to be very intentional.”

Guests had included Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
 
As of last year, “Wits” had failed to turn a profit. The show is primarily taped at the Fitzgerald Theater, but was hitting the road more and more in the past year in hopes of attracting a wider audience. Moe confirmed that there will be no more stage shows this fall.
 
"We considered it successful and thank fans who made it what it was," said Meggan Ellingboe, an APM spokesperson. "Looking at resources and time, we’re trying to refocus on projects that are more financially sustainable. We're taking a hiatus to rethink how it could look down the road."
 
In a statement, Moe said he and his producers are looking to creating a digital "Wits 2.0" that "contains all the fun, passion and creativity you love, but at a cost and pace we can sustain better than before."

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