I don't have a lot of details on this yet, but at an all-staff meeting at KPCC today VP of Content Russ Stanton announced his departure. Executive editor Melanie Sill will move up into the VP of Content role. Both are ex-newspaper editors: Stanton was editor of the Los Angeles Times before jumping to radio and the web; Sill had led the Sacramento Bee.
According to tweets from KPCC business reporter Ben Bergman, Stanton said he was leaving for an "opportunity to help build a fast-growing communications business in the commercial, for-profit space." Bergman also quoted Bill Davis, the president and CEO of Southern California Public Radio, KPCC's parent organization, saying that Stanton accomplished "more in 30 months than most public radio content leaders accomplish in 30 years."
Stanton himself noted that he had hired nearly half of the newsroom, per Bergman on Twitter.
About a half hour after those tweets, KPCC posted a story leading with the Sill news.
Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) on Wednesday named Melanie Sill as its new vice president of content. Sill currently serves as executive editor, where she has been instrumental in growing the content division and in launching Take Two, SCPR’s daily newsmagazine that is now one of the most listened to public radio programs in Los Angeles.
Sill will succeed Russ Stanton, who is leaving to pursue a communications career in the commercial, for-profit space, at the end of this month. Before he joined KPCC in 2012, Stanton was the editor of the Los Angeles Times from 2008 to 2011, capping a 30-year career in newspapers.
“Melanie has been a valuable leader in making us a leading news and information source. I’m pleased she will continue to build upon SCPR’s tradition of success,” said founding president of SCPR Bill Davis in a statement. “She has the talent to lead SCPR forward as a national model for digital innovation in public service journalism.”
Sill came to SCPR from the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, having served as editor at both papers. Her experience in transitioning newsrooms into the digital world has been key to her success.
Under Stanton and Davis, KPCC has grown into a major news player in Southern California — with a large staff and the sort of leverage between the radio air and the website bandwidth that other media outlets just talk about. The KPCC website (SPCR.org) is there on breaking news and much easier to use than the LA Times website, though not as complete.
Update: The growth has not been without bumps. There were layoffs last year, a union vote by the staff that has yet to be fully implemented, and the whole messy transition from Madeleine Brand to A Martinez and Alex Cohen in the morning. An LA Weekly story reported on the internal conflicts at KPCC.
Dennis Romero at the LA Weekly has Bill Davis' memo to the staff online. Here's a sample.
Russ has been a transformative figure at SCPR, accomplishing more in 30 months than most public radio content leaders accomplish in 30 years. And his first decision—to hire Melanie Sill, the former Editor of the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh News & Observer, as SCPR’s Executive Editor—was the foundation upon which the subsequent accomplishments were based. Melanie will succeed Russ as Vice President of Content at SCPR.
Russ and Melanie have led the effort to nearly double the size of SCPR’s Content Division in less than three years. In doing so, SCPR has grown into one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse newsrooms in the country, building out full desks covering crime and public safety, emerging communities and immigration, local business, politics and government, education, and health care. And, last but certainly not least, we are in the process of launching our new arts & entertainment program.
When Russ and Melanie came to SCPR, many on the staff worried that, as “newspaper people,” our broadcast audience would suffer. In fact, the result has been the opposite. KPCC’s broadcast audience has grown throughout their tenure and now stands at all-time highs by whatever measure you care to choose: AQH, AQH Share, Weekly Cume, Core Audience Loyalty, etc. Russ and Melanie also championed the launch of Take Two, the award-winning daily newsmagazine that has helped significantly increase the Latino percentage of KPCC’s audience and is now heard on a daily basis Los Vegas, as well as in Seattle.
Photo of Melanie Sill from KPCC