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NPR to cut jobs amid drop in revenue

Dale Neiburg monitors functions in the control room in the basement at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., on September 13, 2018. (Photo by Allison Shelley/NPR/Handout)

NPR, the public radio program syndicate formerly known as National Public Radio, says it will reduce its global workforce by 10 percent and eliminate the majority of its vacant positions as it continues to grapple with a decline in revenue.

The job losses will mean around 100 NPR workers will be shown the door, the organization’s chief executive affirmed on Wednesday.

“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,” NPR CEO John Lansing wrote in a company-wide memo, the contents of which were published by NPR. Lansing noted that the job losses would be “major” to the organization.

The majority of NPR’s programming is distributed to public radio stations and other media outlets across the country. Some is also licensed to public media stations and commercial outlets in foreign markets. NPR programs are also distributed via the program syndicate itself in the form of podcasts and other on-demand audio, some of which carries sponsorships.

Like other media outlets, NPR has struggled with a drop in advertising revenue as companies pull back on ad spending amid economic turbulence, including a decrease in consumer spending. Commercial radio and television stations, newspapers and online publications have been particularly impacted by the issue.

“We’re not seeing signs of a recovery in the advertising market,” Lansing told an NPR reporter in an interview published Wednesday. “Nothing is nailed down yet except the principles and what we know we have to reach.”

It wasn’t immediately clear from Lansing’s memo or his interview which jobs are focused for elimination. A spokesperson for NPR said those decisions are expected to be made by March 20. A source familiar with NPR’s thinking on the matter said eliminations are likely to occur in production roles that overlap, or where job functions can be consolidated.

NPR’s output is expected to remain unchanged, at least for the time being. The program syndicate is expected to continue producing and distributing shows like “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” “Weekend Edition” and the daily podcast “Up First.”

The program syndicate is the latest media outlet to announce layoffs over the last few months. CNN, Warner Bros Discovery, the Washington Post, AdWeek, AMC Networks, the Walt Disney Company, Vox Media, Paramount Global, Spotify, Comcast’s NBC News, Paramount Global, Fandom and Vimeo have axed jobs or announced plans to do so in the near future.

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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).