Former Classical 24 overnight host Garrett McQueen last Thursday announced his firing from Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) from his social media accounts. McQueen was the only Black classical music host.
McQueen stated, “When things happened in the news or when there were hours of programming that only represented dead white men, I would take it upon myself to change that.”
He indeed changed it, was taken off the air after his shift on August 25, and according to MPR News, “he was then given two warnings — one of which was about his need to improve communication and the other warning was for switching out scheduled music to play pieces he felt were more appropriate.”
In a joint statement issued on Friday, September 11, MPR president Duchesne Drew and APM president Dave Kansas stated, “Our decision was not sudden and came after several conversations with Garrett over the past year regarding programming changes. The warnings presented to Garrett were not tied to his choice of music or the reasons for his unauthorized changes to playlists. He was able to make changes to the playlist, but the manner in which he made changes is what caused an issue. We have a process in place for changing playlists, and that process exists to maintain our more than 200 partner stations’ compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and to ensure royalties are properly paid for the music played.”
Classical 24 is a co-production of American Public Media and Public Radio International, providing round-the-clock classical music that public radio stations across the nation pay to carry. McQueen had been a host since June 2018.
During his time at MPR, McQueen also hosted Classical MPR’s first-ever Juneteenth special, which featured the music of Black classical composers. He co-created a classical music podcast called “Trilloquy” with Classical MPR host Scott Blankenship. And he is a professional bassoonist.
Blankenship told MPR News, “I think that over time, you would definitely see the sort of changes that Garrett had in mind — but it's 10 or 15 years in the future. And he was working to facilitate that change now."
American Public Media Group is the parent company of both Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media.