NPR completes promised layoffs, discontinues four podcasts in “existential” cost reduction

A month after announcing upcoming layoffs, NPR has started and possibly completed the 10% workforce reduction. The action is NPR’s largest layoff since 2008, when a general financial recession stressed many businesses and industries.

These cost-cutting moves were characterized as “existential” by CEO John Lansing. “”We literally are fighting to secure the future of NPR at this very moment by restructuring our cost structure. It’s that important,” Lansing is quoted in NPR’s own reporting of the reductions. Lansing took the CEO role four years ago.

NPR is not divulging layoff targets, on the individual or departmental level. A trickle of individual updates is starting to appear on LinkedIn. NPR says that most of the affected staff will stay on until April 28.

There appears to be a breadth to the layoff selections, NPR notes — “The layoffs also affect people who work behind the scenes to produce the shows and podcasts, design visual elements for the web, conduct audience research, and do the myriad other functions required of a major news network.”

NPM (National Public Media), the nationwide sponsor development subsidiary of NPR, is not touched by this staff reduction.

Member stations are also immune to the network changes; no member-distributed shows are being canceled. “We’ve tried very hard to sustain the essential things that will keep us moving forward,” said Anya Grundmann, SVO of Programming and Audience Development.

Podcasting is not immune, though, and today’s disclosure lists four show that will be discontinued:¬†Invisibilia, Louder Than a Riot, Rough Translation, and Everyone & Their Mom (which spun off from¬†Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.) These eliminations notwithstanding, Lansing said NPR intends to maintain “a leading force in podcasting.


Brad Hill