Jean Taylor, board chair of Star Tribune Media for the last three years, will become the next chief executive of American Public Media Group, the parent company of Minnesota Public Radio.
Taylor, who has served on the board of APMG since 2013, becomes just the third leader of the St. Paul-based media company, known among radio listeners nationally for programs like "Marketplace" and "The Splendid Table."
She follows founder Bill Kling and Jon McTaggart, who became CEO in 2011 and announced his retirement late last year.
"Bill Kling set a great foundation for us. Jon McTaggart has taken us into the 21st century in a way that has been just amazing," Taylor said in an interview.
"I'm looking forward to unleashing the people of APMG to take it to the next level."
In addition to MPR, a 45-station network in Minnesota and nearby states, American Public Media Group also owns Southern California Public Radio Group, which operates four public radio stations in greater Los Angeles.
It also produces and distributes about a dozen programs to more than 1,000 public radio stations and about two dozen podcasts, including ones led by celebrities Julie Andrews and Tig Notaro.
As at other media companies, APMG has had to adjust to challenges and opportunities brought by digital technology and changing demographics. The company's revenue fell 3% to $145 million in its fiscal year that ended in June 2020, the last period for which data was available.
"Similar to the newspaper industry, listeners used to have one way to get our information and entertainment," Taylor said. "Now, there are so many ways for them to connect."
Mary Brainerd, the former CEO of HealthPartners who is vice chairwoman of the APMG board, said of Taylor: "Her deep roots in our region, her experience in media and digital technologies and her understanding of APMG are important assets for our future."
Taylor has chaired the Star Tribune's board of directors since 2018 and has stepped down from that role. In 2014, her father, Glen Taylor, bought the news company, which publishes the Star Tribune and its website.
He is the founder of Mankato-based Taylor Corp. and built a multibillion-dollar fortune through its array of businesses in commercial printing and communications.
Jean Taylor worked for Taylor Corp. for 17 years, including nine as CEO. Recently, she worked with Platinum Group, a business advisory firm in Minnetonka. She will give up that role as she steps into the job at APMG.
A graduate of Augsburg University, she earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota. She also serves on the board for the Minnesota Zoo Foundation.
"I'm just at a point in my life where I've been thinking about how could I lend my leadership and skills even more to an organization, really step back in as a CEO as I've been in the past," she said. "This offered that opportunity."
In her board roles at APMG and the Star Tribune, Taylor said she learned a lot about media and the way digital technology is transforming how people use and pay for it.
A key difference between the public radio company and the Star Tribune, Taylor noted, is that listeners typically access programs from MPR and its other operations for free, choosing later whether to support the company with a donation.
"We have to continue to not only provide great content but help people understand the value of that content," she said of APMG.
"That's a model that continues to work. As our footprint expands, we can continue to reach out to a broader group of people who recognize the value of our work and hopefully bring on more members, more donors and more underwriters."
At Star Tribune Media, CEO Mike Klingensmith will become interim chairman of the board.
In a note to Star Tribune employees, Klingensmith wrote that Jean Taylor "has been a tireless advocate for the Star Tribune and demonstrated great skill and strategic insight in challenging me and the senior leadership team."
Glen Taylor will continue to sit on the board of the Star Tribune. He made news in recent months for making a deal to sell a high-profile asset, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx professional basketball teams.
"I can confidently report that the Taylor family remains as committed as ever to its stewardship of the Star Tribune," Klingensmith said.
Neal Justin • 612-673-7431
Evan Ramstad • 612-673-4241