NPR Announces Layoffs

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 06:07 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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National Public Radio has announced that it will be eliminating the weekday show "Tell Me More" as of August 1 and will eliminate 28 jobs due to ongoing budget problems.

Journalist David Folkenflick revealed the move on his NPR blog.

"These times require that we organize ourselves in different ways and that we're smarter about how we address the different platforms that we reach our audiences on," Folkenflick quotes NPR Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson as saying.

"We're trying to make the most of the resources that we have and ensure that we keep radio healthy and try to develop audience in the digital arena."

According to the report, last year, NPR's board of directors voted to require its executives to go into their next fiscal year starting on October 1, by projecting a balanced budget.

Buyouts that occurred earlier in the year, combined with the end of "Tell Me More," will cut costs by $7 million he blogged..

Michel Martin, the host of "Tell Me More," said her show, which has a large African American audience, was unfairly targeted.

"To be honest with you, I think we've been casualties of executive churn," Martin told the blog. "Every CEO who has been at this network since I've been here — and how many are there now? Six? Seven? — all of them have supported this program, but none of them have stayed around long enough to institutionalize that support."

"We've done a lot to show what's possible here and I want to keep that going. I can't say you need to do better at serving these audiences and then walk away from it. I don't think that's fair," she said on the blog, admitting she has "scar tissue" over the cancellation.

Martin however will stay on with the network, as will the program's executive producer, Carline Watson. The report says they will be "part of an initiative to incorporate the kind of coverage of issues of race, identity, faith, gender and family that appear on the show."

The Washington Post said in a report last September that NPR was attempting to reduce its 840 employees by 10% to meet cost overruns. But in 2013, it opened its $201 million headquarters near the Capitol in Washington D.C., with in-house restaurant with an executive chef, health-care facilities, an employee gym and gift shop.

“It’s a challenging time for everyone in our profession,” the paper quoted longtime NPR host Scott Simon, saying last September. “I’m struck by the confidence that our leadership has that voluntary buyouts will bring [NPR’s finances] back into line. I certainly hope so.”

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