Melanie Sill, Vice President of Content and Executive Editor, will be leaving Southern California Public Radio at the end of February. She will be making a professional and personal shift: she and her husband plan to move back to North Carolina, where they have deep friendships and community ties.
Sill joined the KPCC team five years ago with the mandate to build SCPR’s newsroom into a national model for public service journalism and civic engagement.
“Melanie has done this...and so much more,” said SCPR President & CEO Bill Davis.
Under Sill’s leadership the organization increased its presence on digital platforms, developed groundbreaking digital tools and became one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse newsrooms in the country.
The team launched not one but two daily broadcast news programs: Take Two and The Frame. She helped lead KPCC’s growth in weekly audience, which reached No. 1 among public radio stations nationally in 2015. Beyond broadcast, SCPR/KPCC delivers news via the on-line, mobile digital, social media, and live event (In Person) platforms.
“It’s been a privilege to help lead SCPR’s bold push to make public radio a community resource for more people,” Sill said. “I’m proudest of our steps forward on bringing more diversity to our staffing, content, audience and community connections and our innovation mindset on everything from elections to bringing audiences into our thinking.
"I know great things are ahead for KPCC," she added, "and will miss most of all the wonderful people and our deep bonds to our audience."
Under Sill’s direction, the content team significantly improved the breadth, depth and quality of the organization's journalism and civic engagement. She championed a dramatic increase in enterprise and investigative journalism. Notable successes include:
- SCPR’s deep coverage of the L.A. Unified School District's iPad scandal, which revealed communication between the district and Apple and publishing giant Pearson to bring tablet-based curriculum into the district before the project was put out to bid. L.A. Unified canceled Apple and Pearson's contract within three days of the revelation. Six months later, the superintendent resigned.
- “Officer Involved,” KPCC’s series of reports analyzing police shootings in L.A. County, which led to significant changes in policies and procedures within law enforcement agencies in our region
- And “Broke,” KPCC’s recent investigation of family homelessness in greater Los Angeles.
Under Sill’s leadership SCPR also undertook efforts to increase coverage of veterans’ issues, transportation and infrastructure, and a range of other critical regional issues.
She encouraged innovation--including experiments like “The Ride” and “Shoes Off” and editorial creativity such as “Make Al Care” -- and built collaborations with other newsrooms, largest among them, “California Counts”, brought together the state’s four major public radio news stations to work together on elections coverage. It has since been expanded to include the nonprofit newsroom CALMatters.
And while awards can often be misleading, the number of awards SCPR has won during Sill’s tenure is stunning: 193 local, regional and national awards for journalistic excellence and innovation. KPCC has won Editor & Publisher’s prestigious “Best News Site” award twice for our website’s home page, competing against much more well-funded commercial competition—and KPCC is the only local public radio organization to have done so.
“As a journalist, there are few who are more respected in the industry than Melanie Sill,” Davis said. “Both SCPR and our audiences have benefited from her outstanding work here. We all owe her a debt of gratitude.”
Sill’s last day will be Monday, Feb. 27, when the SCPR Board will recognize her and thank her for her many contributions to SCPR’s public service mission.