Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) announced that President and CEO Herb Scannell, 66, is retiring after a 40-year career in media. He has agreed to remain in his role until a successor is named. The board plans to immediately begin the search for a replacement.
“Herb has helped accomplish precisely what we hoped when he joined us four years ago,” said Drew Murphy, chair of the Board of Trustees of SCPR, “including building platforms to reach new audiences, aligning the organizations to be more diverse in its staffing and its journalism, and creating a unified and more visible brand position in Los Angeles and the region. He has laid the foundation for the next era of contributions SCPR can make in the community as a reliable news source for everyone, even while managing effectively through the pandemic. SCPR is well positioned for the changing future we face that is fact-based and with a mind always on diversity, equity, and inclusion to reflect the Los Angeles community it serves. We are grateful to Herb and wish him well as he moves into retirement.”
“I’m immensely appreciative of being a part of SCPR and to have helped enhance our role as an essential voice of and for Los Angeles,” said Scannell. “I will retire with confidence that the extraordinary team at SCPR can continue to bring a multiplicity of compelling voice and programming to an ever-more diverse audience within Los Angeles and beyond.”
Scannell’s tenure focused on five key goals set forth with the Board of Trustees at the start of his tenure:
Becoming more multi-platform – SCPR established LAist Studios in 2019 to make more podcasts and compliment its internet (LAist.com) and radio (LAist 89.3) offering s to reach more Angelenos more readily. Recently, the organization restructured to dedicate more reporting resources for LAist.com to grow and sustain a daily readership. In September 2022, LAist.com received an Online News Association Award for best website.
Broadening its audience – LAist Studios championed diverse voices, with almost all of its podcasts featuring diverse talent and stories. This includes notable shows like How to LA, which is hosted by Brian De Los Santos and tells stories especially relevant to young Angelenos. More than two dozen podcasts were launched to tell “L.A. stories to the world” and convey the diverse voices of Los Angeles beyond the city limits, with a number receiving awards and “Best of” recognitions.
Focusing the brand – SCRP’s once numerous brands are now unified under the single consumer facing LAist name across its offering: LAist 89.3 for radio, LAist Studios for podcasts, LAist.com for digital news via rebrand implemented this year.
Continuing to advance excellent local broadcast news – Anchored by Larry Mantle’s flagship show AirTalk, new voices were added with hosts Austin Cross (mid-afternoon / Friday Air Talk) and Julia Paskin (weekends) to complement favorites Susanne Whatley (mornings) and Nick Roman (drive time) supported by a robust daily news team and outstanding local beat reporters. Raising visibility in Los Angeles – with the greater brand clarity, SCPR was able to launch its first marketing campaigns in 13 years.
Under Scannell, SCPR saw a 38% growth in revenue, including substantial contributions during the pandemic that enabled the preservation of jobs and initiatives.
Added Scannell, “SCPR’s employees are remarkable for their commitment to and accomplishments in public service. These past few years – with Covid-19, George Floyd’s death, the insurrection – have been the most difficult years of many of our lives and their journals was more essential than ever. Our journalists, fundraising teams, and general staff kept the organization centered in the community and made sure we could provide L.A. with the information, solutions, and support to meet the challenges we experienced. Our radio hosts – led by Larry Mantle – have been voices of reason and calm during it all. This level of excellence is the hallmark of the SCPR team, not just in challenging times, but in daily life here in Los Angeles – they bring a commitment that is unlike any I’ve seen in my long career in media.”