NPR plans to reduce its workforce by 10% amid dropping ad sales.
“This will be a major loss,” CEO John Lansing said in a staff memo Wednesday.
The broadcasting organization reportedly operates on a $300 million budget. Its revenues are expected to drop by at least $30 million. Lansing did not detail where job cuts would come, but said management is committed to “strategy, making tough decisions.”
NPR plans to eliminate already vacant positions.
Further staffing decisions are expected to be made in about a month. Lansing, who took the reins at NPR in 2019, said recovering advertising revenue doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.
NPR plans to stay focused on podcasts, which have been the company’s strong suit since Lansing came on board. He said “a bigger and broader audience base, rooted in younger and more diverse listeners, readers and consumers” is essential to NPR’s future. Staff cuts will not fall disproportionately on employees of color, Lansing claims.
NPR announced in November it needed to cut at least $10 million in costs over the next 10 months as sponsorship money dropped sharply. That number quickly ballooned to $20 million, which still couldn’t offset declining revenues. NPR’s corporate sponsors are not allowed to hawk goods and services via programming. It was the company’s hope a hiring freeze, paired with cost-cutting, would make layoffs unnecessary.
“When we say we are eliminating filled positions, we are talking about our colleagues — people whose skills, spirit and talents help make NPR what it is today,” Lansing said in his memo.
Despite record low unemployment nationwide, media jobs have been reduced in sizeable swaths. Adweek, Vox Media, NBC News and the Washington Post started 2023 by trimming payrolls, Axios reported.
According to NPR, Wednesday’s announcement is reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis, which led to layoffs and reduced programming at the non-profit outlet.
The Washington-based organization was launched in 1971. It syndicates programming for more than 100 radio stations nationwide. NPR collects a large portion of its revenue from dues and fees paid by member stations, as well as underwriting from corporate sponsors. It also benefits from institutional grants, individual contributions and fees from the Public Radio Satellite System.
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