Cuts at NPR

The big media recession hit National Public Radio today. Two shows — News & Notes and Day to Day — are being dropped and 7 percent of NPR’s staff is being laid off.

It’s the organization’s first widespread layoffs in 25 years, the Washington Post says.

NPR had hoped News & Notes would attract more African Americans to its audience. The Post says the cuts represent a retreat from NPR’s goal to diversify its audience:

Combined with the elimination of “Day to Day” and “News & Notes” the cutbacks constitute a retreat from NPR’s efforts to reach new listeners, especially young people and members of minority groups who are not part of NPR’s “core” audience. The diversification effort started in 2002 with the opening of NPR West, the organization’s first major production facility outside of Washington and New York. The facility will remain open after the cutback, but with about half of its 60 employees.

  • Willie

    This is a little disconcerting, Day to Day was an interesting show to listen too and broadened the content for stations beyond “Talk of the Nation” which, while good, is essentially just talk radio.

    Hopefully we won’t see similar cutbacks locally…

  • This is really disappointing. Day to Day is (was) one of my favorite public radio shows. It was meaningful too that the show was produced at NPR West: something about the show really felt very… California (a nice change from other NPR programs).

    The question locally now is what will MPR broadcast instead? More Talk of the Nation? I agree with Willie that Talk of the Nation often just feels like talk radio — a lot of people calling in who just like to hear their own voices.

    Maybe they’ll pick up KCRW’s To the Point:

  • Al

    I liked Day to Day, too. It was nice to hear a show with a little less politics on those days when Talk of the Nation was all about politics. I won’t miss the Unger report though.

  • Begs the question: what is the financial health of MPR?

  • Paul

    Best of luck and warm wishes to all those affected. Why do they always make these announcements two week before the holidays?

  • Bob Collins

    //what is the financial health of MPR?

    MPR is like everyone else to the extent that we’re not immune from the economy. We’ve already taken some steps but as revenue forecasts decline everywhere and as organizations require budgets that are balanced, I don’t think it takes much to figure out how that will be accomplished.

    There’s no magic wand, unfortunately.

    I think the hardest thing for American workers –those who are still working — is the uncertainty. There seems to be this pall of imminent death hanging over America’s cubicles.

  • MR

    Add the uncertainty about your job to the certainty of wage and hiring freezes and you end up with adding discouragement because you’re getting paid less and frustration because you’re doing the work of the other two open positions that won’t be filled in addition to your own work. It’s quite a combination. But right now, those of us with jobs are just happy to have them.

  • Be that as it may, MPR/American Public Media seems so rich in its properties and assets, that even with temporary cutbacks it could emerge as an even stronger media player than it already is, certainly stronger than newspapers and other competitors will be in the medium-to-long term. At least that how it appears to me from the outside, looking into your lobby windows from Cedar Street (figuratively).

  • Bob Collins

    I think companies that have a well-defined mission will emerge OK. Nobody’s coming out of this without some significant pain, however.

  • Only rarely, when I saw the list of discussion topics for Hour two, did I wish that MPR put on the second hour of Talk of the Nation as opposed to Day to Day.

    I will miss it.

  • SA

    Interesting that you bring up a sense of impending doom hanging over American workers. I’ve been mentioning to friends and family that I’ve been a victim of that sense lately. It has manifested itself in the form of a fear of flying. I travel a lot and this has never happened to me before. I even see a plane landing and I get nervous that it’s not going to make it to the runway. I have a lot of positive stresses in my life as well as negative ones (like faltering job security;) and I think the pall comes from all the unfinished business I still have to tend to. I’ve piled task after task on top of myself, and if I lose my job (or worse, get caught in a plane crash,) I’ll have quite the mess…