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Broadcast Veteran Randy Mason Is Among Those Laid Off At Kansas City Public Television


After more than 30 years at KCPT, Randy Mason, executive producer of cultural affairs, has been let go. KCUR has learned that three other staffers were also told their jobs were cut.

"KCPT is undergoing a reorganization and unfortunately positions were eliminated. These decisions were not made lightly and we respect and honor the dedication of all our employees. KCPT's mission is to serve the community through education, civil discourse and local and community storytelling," Angee Simmons, vice president for TV Production and Creative Services, told KCUR in an email.

"In a rapidly changing media landscape, roles at KCPT are changing and our reorganization reflects this change and maintains our service to nearly 800,000 Kansas Citians each month," Simmons added.

Mason is probably best known for his work on Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations, where he, along with Michael Murphy and Don the Camera Guy, "traveled the back roads of America in a minivan." The program earned 10 regional Emmys and ran for 12 seasons. They stopped in nearly 40 states, highlighting outsider artists and grassroots art, as well as roadside diners and oddities. 

In 1984, Mason was hired by KCPT as a producer and reporter for Kansas City Illustrated. He went on to produce, host, and write for shows such as KCPT Marquee and The Local Show, as well as produce documentaries with the late writer C.W. Gusewelle.

Other documentary work for KCPT featured classical music and opera (Homecoming: The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato), visual arts (Putting Down Roots), beer (Tapping Kansas City), and history of the arts in Kansas City (Uniquely Kansas City). Mason also won a national Emmy in 2004, for co-producing Be Good, Smile Pretty about a daughter's search for the story of her father, killed in the Vietnam War.

In 2014, Mason launched Arts UploadThe 30-minute arts magazine, co-hosted with Maris Aylward, showcased actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists, and writers. The last episode aired on February 16. 

"We've evolved our content model and are producing cross-platform special projects like Take Note, In Situ, and Public Works — instead of ongoing series like Arts Upload and SciTech Now," Simmons explained in her email to KCUR.

Mason declined to comment.

It's possible more cuts are ahead for public media in Kansas City. 

President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget would phase out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB provides support for public television and radio stations across the country, including KCPT and KCUR 89.3. The draft requires Congressional approval.

This post has been updated for clarification. 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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