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Sacramento NPR member station CapRadio lays off 12 employees

A slowdown in financial contributions is being blamed for a round of layoffs affecting mostly part-time employees at one of two NPR member stations serving the greater Sacramento area.

On Wednesday, officials at KXJZ (90.9 FM) — better known on-air as CapRadio — said the layoffs affected around 12 percent of their staff, with one unaffected employee putting the number of job cuts at precisely 12.

“We are deeply saddened to say farewell to such dedicated and talented staff members,” Tom Karlo, the interim general manager at KXPR, said in a statement. “This is a difficult decision, but we view it as necessary to carry out the station’s public service mission during a financially-challenging time for us and for media across the country.”

CapRadio operates two NPR member stations in the Sacramento region: KXJZ, which offers a mixture of local current affairs and music shows interspersed with national programming from NPR and other public radio programming distributors, and KXPR (88.9 FM), a classical music station.

The stations primarily serve the Sacramento Valley, with translators in Merced, Stockton, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee and other communities. The two compete against KQEI (89.3 FM), a station in the Sacramento suburb of North Highlands that is owned by KQED Radio in San Francisco and rebroadcasts programming from that station in its entirety.

The layoffs come about four years after CapRadio announced it was moving out of its long-time headquarters on the campus of California State University in Sacramento to a new 34,000-square foot facility in the city’s downtown area.

The project was funded in part by a $2.25 million grant from Sutter Health in exchange for a 15-year naming rights deal for a ground-floor community room. The actual financial cost of the project has not been revealed.

The downtown studio plan was delayed in part due to the multi-year coronavirus health pandemic, which started the year after the move was announced. On Wednesday, CapRadio executives cited challenges emerging from the pandemic and broader economic trends impacting the media industry for the layoffs.

The job losses follow several high-profile departures of CapRadio executives in recent months, including former news director-turned Chief Content Officer Joe Barr, who left CapRadio after more than two decades to become the director of communications for the California Hospital Association. Nick Miller, a former alternative newspaper editor who was selected to be Barr’s replacement to the news director role in 2017, left in June to become the communications officer for State Assemblymember Robert Rivas.

The broadcast licenses for KXJZ and KXPR are held by California State University’s Sacramento campus. Andrea Clark, a local attorney who serves as the chairperson of CapRadio’s board of directors, said the board is working with CapRadio and California State University to determine what additional steps need to be taken to address CapRadio’s financial issues.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).