Dec 10, 2008

Less than half of laid-off staff work on canceled shows

Neither Day to Day nor News & Notes were attracting large enough audiences or underwriting revenues to stay on the air given the revenue losses that NPR has taken since July, according to a memo sent to NPR staff this afternoon. "[W]e concluded that it was necessary to eliminate some activities completely to achieve the long term savings we require while protecting our core mission," wrote Dennis Haarsager, interim president, in the memo. Of the $23 million projected budget deficit announced today, $14 million is attributable to expected shortfalls in corporate underwriting, said Dana Davis Rehm, senior v.p. The 64 employees being laid off include 29 who work on the two canceled shows, Rehm said. An additional six reporters not affiliated with these programs are being let go. The Morning Edition team that works with L.A.-based cohost Renee Montagne are among 30 NPR Westers who will continue to work out of the production facility in Culver City, Calif. "It would be a strategic mistake not to stick with NPR West," Rehm said.

Job and spending cuts extend across NPR

NPR is eliminating 64 jobs to address a projected budget deficit of $23 million and confirming that Day to Day and News & Notes will go off the air on March 20, 2009. Many of the personnel cuts come from laying off staff of the two canceled series, NPR announced in a news release, but job and spending cuts extend across the company to reporting and production, station services, digital media, research, communications and administration. Twenty-one open positions will not be filled. "With all of NPR's revenue sources under pressure, these actions were necessary to responsibly stabilize our finances and put NPR on a realistic path," said Dennis Haarsager, interim president. "It's crucial to realize that these programming changes are being driven by a loss in revenue, not relevance," said Ellen Weiss, senior v.p. of NPR News.

NPR said to be shutting down two shows

Staff members of NPR’s Day to Day and News and Notes, based at the network’s western production center in Culver City, Calif., are meeting today with NPR News chief Ellen Weiss about cancellation of their programs and pending layoffs, according to three pubradio sources. An NPR West staffer says word inside the building is that more than 60 people will lose their jobs. It is unclear whether the production center, established in late 2002 in a major expansion of NPR’s news operations, will remain open.

CPBer to the UN?

Cheryl Halpern, CPB board member and former chair, has been nominated by President George Bush to be an alternate United Nations representative, according to JTA, a global Jewish news agency. UN alternates represent the United States at committee meetings and other smaller forums.

Budget woes force cuts at WVIA

Five positions have been eliminated and several programs halted at Northeastern Pennsylvania Educational Television Association due to an expected $200,000 funding shortfall, according to the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Gone are a television production staffer, a documentarian and an FM radio news person, as well as the CEO's part-time administrative assistant and a receptionist. The layoffs represent about 8 percent of its workforce. The station, better known as WVIA Public Media, also is putting on hiatus its "Pennsylvania Polka" and "WVIA Ballroom" shows. Two documentary projects were scrapped. Job openings and compensation for training, travel, dues, maintenance and hospitality were frozen. President and CEO Bill Kelly also is taking a 10 percent salary cut, or about $18,000, which brings his salary to $163,890.