NPR Cuts 100 Employees and 4 Podcasts Amid Financial Crisis
“We literally are fighting to secure the future of NPR at this very moment by restructuring our cost structure. It’s that important.”
NPR has announced this week that it will be cutting 10 percent of its staff and ceasing production of four podcasts in an effort to address a budget deficit of over $30 million. The network has canceled Invisibilia, Louder Than a Riot, and Rough Translation, and the comedy podcast Everyone & Their Mom, which was launched just one year ago.
According to NPR CEO John Lansing, the organization is currently adapting its cost structure to secure its future and protect its core public service mission of journalism. While prioritizing its “North Star,” NPR aims to expand its audience base, particularly among younger and more diverse listeners who can become future supporters of the network.
“We literally are fighting to secure the future of NPR at this very moment by restructuring our cost structure. It’s that important,” NPR chief executive John Lansing said in an interview. “It’s existential.”
The move to cut staff and cancel podcasts is seen as a necessary step to address the financial challenges faced by NPR. Lansing stressed that the network is committed to delivering high-quality journalism and serving its audience even amid budget cuts.
Several veteran NPR employees, including Senior European Correspondent Sylvia Poggioli with 41 years of service, have opted to depart from the network. The departures have included some familiar voices, but NPR has not made any official announcements, leaving the choice of sharing the news to those departing.
NPR’s executives acted quickly as the extent of the financial difficulties became apparent, freezing most vacant positions in November and significantly reducing travel. Due to this urgency, a complete strategic overhaul was not possible, but the network is working to unify its newsroom and programming division, which is responsible for producing most of NPR’s podcasts. According to Lansing, the current separation between NPR’s journalism and editorial creations will be addressed through these efforts.
Maddy Troy serves as a writer and editor for Barrett News Media, with a specific focus on media business, advertising, and podcasting. You can find her on Twitter @Troy_Maddy.
Bob Pittman: iHeartMedia Won’t Be Shutting Down Broadcast Stations
“90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%.”
Very few large broadcasting corporations adopted digital platforms as quickly as iHeartMedia did. iHeartRadio is one of the most popular platforms for streaming content from a variety off stations. Bob Pittman says that does not mean the company does not see plenty of value in traditional broadcast radio.
Lydia Moynihan of The New York Post spoke with the iHeartMedia CEO Friday morning. She asked Pittman if he could foresee a day when the company would be done with terrestrial radio and focus solely on digital products.
“To the contrary – the strength and foundation of our company is our broadcast radio stations,” Pittman responded. “90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%.”
He added that any success that the company has seen with podcasting or streaming is clearly linked to the success of the its radio stations. He said that is true for its live events too.
“We use that massive and unique reach of our broadcast radio to build complementary products like the iHeartRadio digital service and our major events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the iHeartRadio Music Awards and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour, and it’s why we’re the #1 podcast publisher by a lot. It all starts with using the trusted voices on our broadcast radio stations and creating demand – and with our unparalleled reach we have quite an advantage over the other audio players, regardless of their cash war chests.”
Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee Top Markets for AM Radio
“The study shows thirteen markets that have at least 40% of listeners using AM radio. Ten of them are in the Midwest.”
Nielsen has looked at information from the 2022 fall book to determine where AM radio is the most popular. The company released a list Thursday of 141 markets where at least 20% of radio listeners tune to AM radio in a given month. Cities in the Great Lakes region are all at the top of the list.
In Buffalo, 56% of radio listeners use the AM band in a month. The market’s most-listened to stations are both AM stations owned by Audacy – news/talk WBEN and sports talker WGR. Neither has an FM simulcast.
There is a tie for second place. 48% of listeners in Chicago utilize AM. Popular news stations WGN and WLS are both only available on AM as is the market’s heritage sports talk brand, 670 The Score. Milwaukee is the other market with 48% of listeners using AM radio.
AM radio remains very popular in the Midwest. The study shows thirteen markets that have at least 40% of listeners using AM radio. Ten of them are in the Midwest.
Last month, Nielsen used numbers from the 2022 Fall book to show that across the country, more than 82 million people rely on AM radio during a month. That is a third of all terrestrial radio listeners.
A hearing on Sen. Ed Markey’s AM For Every Vehicle Act is scheduled for Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Fox News Radio Reportedly Facing Cutbacks
“Freelance shifts still exist on the network and current freelancers have been offered other opportunities over the weekend. Staff employees were not impacted.”
According to All Access, Fox News Radio is tightening the belt a bit. Job cuts and staff reassignments are on the way.
Most of the effected positions are filled by freelancers. Reporters and fill-in hosts could be effected.
“Fox News Audio has reduced the number of freelance shifts and adjusted its workflow on weekends,” a source told Perry Michael Simon. “Freelance shifts still exist on the network and current freelancers have been offered other opportunities over the weekend. Staff employees were not impacted.”
One full-time staffer has confirmed that he is out. News anchor Kerin McCue had been with Fox News Radio since 2012. He told All Access that he will exit some time this month. The report does not say if that is the result of these cutbacks or McCue’s own decision.
The network does have a lower-cost plan for the weekend. Some repurposed content from SiriusXM’s Fox News Headlines 24/7 will fill newscast slots.