NPR announced Tuesday that it would cease broadcast of the weekday program Tell Me More on Aug. 1 and eliminate 28 positions as part of a larger effort to end the company’s persistent budget deficits.
“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,” NPR Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson said. “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.”
Before the departure of former CEO Gary Knell last year, NPR’s board of directors voted to require its executives to go into fiscal 2015 — which starts Oct. 1 — with projections of a balanced budget. Tuesday’s cuts, in combination with buyouts earlier this year, will reduce the network’s costs by $7 million a year. The reductions are expected to help bring fiscal 2014’s deficit in at the approved level of more than $6 million.
The earlier buyouts led to the departure of dozens of people throughout the company. Eight of the 28 positions being eliminated are already vacant, Senior Vice President for News Margaret Low Smith told staffers.
Ultimately, NPR’s total head count will be 7 percent lower than where it stood last year — there will be 9 percent fewer newsgathering positions. NPR has run deficits in all but one of the past six fiscal years, including the one ending Sept. 30.
Michel Martin, the host of Tell Me More, will remain at the network, as will the program’s executive producer, Carline Watson. 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. Martin will appear on the network’s primary newsmagazines, online and in public events.
SOURCE: DAVID FOLKENFLIK