Responding to criticism from listeners and its own staff, Minnesota Public Radio fired a DJ for 89.3 the Current late Tuesday, a day after the resignation of an MPR reporter who investigated sexual-harassment allegations against the on-air personality.
"Eric Malmberg will no longer be a DJ on The Current," said a statement from MPR President Duchesne Drew. "Our hosts have to be able to attract an audience that wants to listen to them and trusts them and over the last 36 hours those conditions have changed for Malmberg."
Malmberg didn't respond earlier Tuesday to a request for comment.
Malmberg was fired, Drew clarified by e-mail later.
It was the first time Malmberg's name surfaced publicly since reporter Marianne Combs triggered the controversy Monday, saying she had resigned because of MPR's decision to hold off on a story alleging sexual misconduct by an unnamed Current DJ.
Malmberg, who's in his 40s, was a relatively new addition to the Current airwaves, joining in June 2018. He worked random weekend and fill-in shifts at the indie-alternative station, including an early Monday morning just before Combs' announcement.
Before that, he was a DJ at local rock stations 93X and KQRS-92 FM. He was also a musician and program staffer at Minneapolis-based Youth Frontiers, which hosts motivational rallies at schools and youth retreats. Two former co-workers there did not respond to requests for comment.
Several staffers at the Current voiced support Tuesday for Combs, whose public resignation letter said the DJ had "preyed on younger, sexually inexperienced women."
Two of the station's best-known personalities, "Local Show" host Andrea Swensson and midday DJ Jade Tittle, posted the same tweet: "I believe the 8 women who bravely confided in @MarianneSCombs. I trust Marianne's judgment as an award-winning journalist, and believe that what she said is true. I believe all survivors who make the terrifying and vulnerable decision to come forward."
Other Current and MPR staffers followed suit.
MPR's president had said Monday that the employment status of the DJ who was the subject of Combs' story had not changed and will not "based on what we know now." In an on-air interview Tuesday morning, Drew continued to stand by the decision of Combs' editors that her story "does not meet our journalistic standards."
"There wasn't enough 'there' to hang a story on," he told "Morning Edition" host Cathy Wurzer, clarifying that the story might still run with further reporting. "There was nothing alleged that was illegal. I know that will upset some people. The reason I'm pausing on that for a moment is when we're weighing whether or a story is running or not, there are many, many considerations. As you would suspect, whether an activity was illegal is a very significant dimension of that."
Asked whether MPR was conducting its own investigation, Drew said only: "When we hired this individual, we had no reason to believe anything in his background was problematic."
The interview with Drew, who was hired by MPR last spring, generated more criticism on social media, including retired MPR senior editor Bob Collins, who tweeted that management "is on the wrong side of history."
"[Drew's] insistence about lack of criminal activity rather misses one of the biggest stories and movements of the century," Collins wrote. "#MeToo isn't about criminality per se. … How can a news organization even cover issues surrounding #MeToo if the editorial philosophy is, 'Hey, it's not illegal.' "
Combs thanked supporters Tuesday but said she doesn't believe she can make her story public outside of MPR.
"Because I did all the work on the story as an employee of MPR, I don't believe it's possible for me to publish the story elsewhere," she wrote. "And even if I could, I imagine I'd be viewed as biased due to my personal experience with the company."
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 Twitter: @ChrisRstrib