Former Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton is leaving Southern California Public Radio, where he oversees the newsroom that produces content for KPCC-FM (89.3) and other Southland stations.
SCPR Executive Editor Melanie Sill will succeed Stanton as vice president of content. Before Sill joined SCPR, she served as editor of the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, SCPR said in a statement that emphasized Sill's “experience in transitioning newsrooms into the digital world.” The company said she has been key in expanding its content division and launching its daily newsmagazine “Take Two.”
The management change comes shortly after KPCC told listeners it faces a substantial funding gap. In April, SCPR President Bill Davis urged more listeners to start donating to the station. Davis said the station had been hurt by the spate of credit card security breaches during the Christmas shopping season, which resulted in lapsed donations after recurring donors canceled their credit cards and didn’t give the radio station updated payment information.
Stanton will exit SCPR at month's end, the company said. He said he will pursue the "opportunity to help build a fast-growing communications business in the commercial, for-profit space," SCPR reporter Ben Bergman said on Twitter.
Stanton stepped down from the helm of The Times in late 2011 after four years as the newspaper's top editor. He had joined The Times in 1997 as a business reporter in Orange County.
In addition to KPCC in Los Angeles and Orange counties, SCPR produces content for KUOR-FM (89.1) in the Inland Empire and KVLA-FM (90.1) in the Coachella Valley and for its website, which it says receives more than 1 million monthly unique visitors.
In recent years, there has been major growth in staff at KPCC, which is now the third- or fourth- most-listened-to public radio station in the country, SCPR's Davis said in May.
The growth has come with some strains. Less than a year after Stanton arrived in 2012, KPCC host Madeleine Brand departed the station after her 9 a.m. show was retooled to expand to two hours and brought in a cohost, A Martinez, an L.A. native and sports broadcaster.
At the heart of the conflict was a $6-million grant, to be spread over three years, which the station solicited from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The money, awarded to the station in December 2011, was earmarked to develop multicultural programming, diversify newsroom talent and better connect with Southern California’s Latino community. Brand now hosts a show at a public radio station in Santa Monica, KCRW-FM (89.9).
The station also has faced significant change in recent months, amid the naming of SCPR's chairman, Jarl Mohn, to become president and chief executive of National Public Radio. Mohn has been a key donor and fundraiser for KPCC, whose gifts went toward building the $24.5-million Mohn Broadcast Center, which enabled the station to move out of cramped studios at Pasadena City College.
The station has come a long way from what it was in 2000, when it was a student-staffed station that had so few listeners, it was about to lose funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Pasadena City College trustees reached a deal with Minnesota Public Radio -- now American Public Media -- to run the operation. The deal led to the creation of SCPR to run the radio station.
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