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St. Louis Public Radio Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Update

The University of Missouri–St. Louis launched a review of operations at St. Louis Public Radio in August in response to employee concerns related to diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the station.

As a part of that review, the University of Missouri office of general counsel, in coordination with UMSL’s vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion Tanisha Stevens, retained the Tueth Keeney law firm to conduct interviews of employees across all departments and seniority levels at the station. The firm completed those interviews and submitted its report to campus administration on Nov. 19. Thirty-one individuals volunteered to participate.

The report was shared with general counsel, Dr. Stevens, Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and interim general manager Tom Livingston for review and will serve as a resource to inform future decisions and actions related to personnel, policies and guidelines to ensure an organizational culture grounded in inclusive excellence – including informing the search for a permanent general manager.

As a document with identifiable personnel performance information, the report will not be shared outside of university administration. Additionally, all interviewees were guaranteed confidentiality as a measure of their participation.

While an important component of the university’s review process, the Tueth Keeney report is just one of many actions that have been initiated by the university and station to address employee concerns.

Examples of action items underway include:

  • Chancellor Kristin Sobolik appointed vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion Tanisha Stevens to lead a comprehensive review of the station.
  • Tom Livingston was recruited and appointed interim general manager with the station now reporting directly to the office of the chancellor.
  • The Friends of KWMU community advisory board established a committee focused on diversity, equity and inclusion to provide feedback and support to the chancellor and general manager.
  • St. Louis Public Radio has signed on as a participating organization for “Public Media for All” which officially launched on November 10. As a participating organization, the station has committed to a series of time-bound actions that further support inclusive excellence.
  • Formed an employee-led working group focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Providing supervisors with clear expectations and standards for inclusive excellence and holding supervisors accountable through 360-degree performance management reviews in addition to following the university’s annual performance review process, which includes a success factor for diversity and inclusion.
  • Seeking a third-party facilitator to lead conversations about race and inclusive excellence with all staff with the employee-led working group engaged in the review and selection of potential service providers as well as establishing the scope of work and desired outcomes.
  • UMSL launched an independent bias hotline in collaboration with the University of Missouri System as an additional resource to complement established human resources processes, Title IX policy, equal opportunity policy and integrity and accountability hotline.
  • Made and received commitments to bring the Next Generation Radio project to St. Louis.
  • Reinstated a paid internship program for the spring to provide hands-on training for college students and graduates.
  • Sought and received approval to restart the hiring process for the senior producer of on-demand audio, which will become a member of the leadership team.
  • Standardizing promotions and hiring practices including implicit bias training for search committees and utilization of the university’s justification committee – which includes representation from the UMSL office of diversity, equity and inclusion – for internal promotions, position reclassifications and open searches.

St. Louis Public Radio is a service of the University of Missouri–St. Louis and supported with financial gifts from the community. The NPR affiliate has a 100,000-watt signal broadcasting from UMSL at Grand Center.