Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at STLPR
A Letter from STLPR's CEO
I’ve spent over two decades in public media. In that time, I have seen and felt what it means for this industry to be both welcoming and unwelcoming to individuals and to communities who have been othered: people with marginalized identities due to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, immigration or veteran status.
Like all of public media and journalism, St. Louis Public Radio has its own history of exclusion, a history that we, as an organization, have only recently begun to grapple with. STLPR had a very public “reckoning” in 2020. Much of its leadership changed at that time, but this didn’t mean everything was fixed overnight. It meant that we were one step closer on a journey that will take time if we are to get it right and not look for quick fixes to satisfy the current pressures of the day.
Because public media, and our own STLPR, is vital to local journalism in Missouri, it is worth the effort that it will take to transform it from a media organization for some to a media resource for all.
Like all movements for justice, the inequity issues in public media are deep within our systems and as we move towards a more inclusive and representative workplace, we must dismantle the pillars that have upheld those inequities without destroying the organization altogether. Why? Because public media, and our own STLPR, is vital to local journalism in Missouri, it is worth the effort that it will take to transform it from a media organization for some to a media resource for all. STLPR is undergoing deep change–even as it stays committed to its mission to create understanding across divides, to provide forums, narratives, and spaces for that understanding to happen.
This is tough work. Work required from everyone in our community, but especially by our leadership at STLPR. It is also work undertaken by all the staff of our organization. It is work that extends to our Friends Advisory Board, and to our partners at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Every day at STLPR we are trying new things, new ways to make this workplace and our content more accessible, more reflective of a diverse and changing America, a changing Missouri. Not every experiment or well-considered move will be a success. But, over time, we believe the majority of moves will get us closer to finding new ways to understand and relate to each other and to our audience. New ways to sound like and reflect the communities we have not spoken directly to. New ways to engage more meaningfully with Black and Latino audiences, more audiences of color and younger listeners. New ways to discover the information and cultural needs of listeners across St. Louis, Rolla, and Quincy and in rural areas of Missouri and Illinois. New ways to have those listeners not only discover us but also find us essential in their daily lives.
Every day at STLPR we are trying new things, new ways to make this workplace and our content more accessible, more reflective of a diverse and changing America, a changing Missouri.
Yes, I have seen and felt what it is like to ‘not belong’ in public media. But, I have also seen and felt the transformative ability of public media journalism to create deep belonging. I have seen the difference it makes to people when their ideas matter, their voices are heard, and their stories told. I have seen it in projects like NPR’s Next Generation Project and StoryCorp; I have seen it in our own We Live Here podcast and in our recently relaunched St. Louis On the Air. I have also seen it in a staff that has taken a chance on a CEO who is not from St. Louis or any part of Missouri or the Midwest, but who deeply believes that it is the places in the middle of America where the link between democracy and local journalism is most tenuous, and therefore vital to uphold.
We have an opportunity at STLPR to create something transformative – to build bridges where they have been burnt and to truly meet the needs of our community. And while I couldn’t be prouder or more excited to lead this team during this time of transition, I also know it’s not about me. It’s about our community, which includes the staff and leadership that help make up the vibrant, diverse, creative city of St. Louis and greater Missouri. We have talent and creativity in our favor as we meet this moment to create a STLPR that serves all.
DEI Committee Working Group
DEI Committee Statement of Purpose
This committee is an advisory committee. We review and advise on station policy to ensure it is constructed in an equitable way. We act as a checks and balances point for diversity, equity and inclusion at the station–highlighting and offering suggestions to leadership on changes that can be made for STLPR to center equity and live up to its stated DEI goals.
We are ambassadors for DEI at the station. This means we recognize and understand that there are employees who this work impacts in different ways – including but not limited to – personal identity, lived experience, education, geographic location, socioeconomics, and much more. We are open to hearing from staff members about places where policy needs to change in order to increase equity. Non-committee staff are welcome to sit in on committee meetings, as well as offer their perspectives within a designated guest forum for staff comments.
Each member is committed to keeping up with professional development surrounding DEI. We strive for expertise in DEI, providing leadership in DEI strategy and actively working to promote a culture where equity is central to the station's values.
DEI Working Group Members: