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McKuin Takes New Public Radio Job, With Same Commute

3 min read

Vanessa McKuin, who helped get Arkansas Public Media off the ground by managing business side of the regional journalism collaborative, has moved down the hall to become development director for University of Arkansas at Little Rock public radio.

McKuin left her job as partner-manager of the statewide public media network, which was seeded with a 2015 grant of $278,300 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that is winding down in September, at the first of the year.

Her new duties will include managing memberships, raising money and helping to oversee underwriting for KUAR and KLRE, the university’s two public radio stations, which share offices with the public media group just off campus near Asher and University avenues.

“Obviously APM is a small group of people and any time you leave a team it’s personal,” McKuin told Arkansas Business on Tuesday morning, noting that she’d enjoyed a great working relationship with Bobby Ampezzan, the managing editor who oversees journalism at the collaboration of several state public radio and TV operations. “I really enjoyed working with Bobby and the APM folks, but they’re still working just down the hall.”

McKuin joined the public media group, which includes KUAF in Fayetteville, KASU in Jonesboro and KTXK in Texarkana, as well as the two UA-Little Rock stations, in June 2016. Previously, she was executive director of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. As development director, she succeeds Sarah Donaghy, who left in August to become coordinator of community partnerships at Hendrix College in Conway.

McKuin, who said she will make $45,000 a year in the new position, conceded that the salary “is not quite the same, actually,” but said the opportunity was a good fit for her personally. APM is seeking grants beyond the startup money from CPB, which supported the multimedia collaboration as a way to bring breaking news and special interest stories on air and online, with a special focus on education, health and energy issues.

She said her job change shouldn’t be interpreted as “any sort of lack of commitment to Arkansas Public Media or the grant,” adding that APM has a “strong possibility” of securing additional funding. “I had a great opportunity with APM to learn about working on public radio on a specific project, and to build a fund-raising structure from nearly the ground up. The opportunity to work at a station to help provide the vitally important public service to listeners through a range of programs was really exciting to me.”

An Arkansas native who moved to New York City as a child and then returned, McKuin has a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix and a master’s in historic preservation from Pratt Institute in New York.

Ampezzan said that McKuin’s career shift won’t change much functionally at APM. “Our grant winds down in the fall. It was always going to be a transition at that point,” Ampezzan wrote in an email to Arkansas Business. “There’s a possibility for further grant funding from CPB that we’re kind of in the middle of planning out. Meanwhile we’re looking to hire for a partner manager (grant manager/underwriting sales exec) for the rest of the ride!”

McKuin described herself as a longtime public radio listener and member, adding that she has admired UA-Little Rock public radio for years. “Working as the development director gives me the chance to apply what I learned working with Arkansas Public Media to public radio as a whole and to be part of the UA-Little Rock public radio leadership team as it works to grow and sustain this institution for the future.”

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