Buyouts, increased giving help NPR on track to break-even budget in fiscal 2015

NPR expects that a boost in revenue coupled with spending cuts resulting mainly from a staff reduction will lead to the network’s first balanced budget in three years. A fiscal year 2015 budget presented at a Thursday meeting of NPR’s board of directors projected $190.2 million in revenue and $188.7 million in expenses. Depreciation and other cash adjustments are anticipated to eat up the $1.5 million overage, leaving NPR with a balanced budget. “This will be the first balanced budget since 2011,” said Roger Sarow, chair of the board’s Finance and Administration Committee and g.m. of WFAE-FM in Charlotte, N.C. “It was unbalanced three years out of five, and that just wasn’t sustainable.”

NPR reported a $681,000 surplus as of the end of July based largely on a 4 percent reduction in expenses, compared to a $1.1 million loss at the same time last year. Regardless, NPR is still projecting a deficit by Sept.

Working group nears standard for audio levels in PRSS content

Members of an NPR working group aiming to standardize levels of audio content delivered via the Public Radio Satellite System believe they have found one possible solution to the problem. Programs sent to stations through the PRSS vary widely in volume and may detract from the listener’s experience, according to Chris Nelson, NPR’s director of digital strategy. In May, Nelson shared with the NPR Board results of a study in which about 53 percent of the content examined by the working group deviated from standards PRSS recommends for consistent volumes. The group aims to give stations and producers affordable best practices and resources to help solve the problem. At a meeting Thursday of NPR’s board, Nelson told board members that the working group has consulted with producers and engineers about the issue and conducted a survey to learn how the problem affects stations that use and contribute PRSS content.

NPR cuts Krulwich blog from website

After a four-year run, science correspondent Robert Krulwich's blog on NPR.org, Krulwich Wonders, will end Sept. 30 as the network seeks to cut costs. "NPR (in the form of a super-top executive) sat me down and, after four years of generously supporting this blog, told me it can't anymore," Krulwich wrote in a blog post Wednesday. "It needs to cut costs and — you know the phrase — it has chosen to go 'in new directions.' So at the end of this month, Krulwich Wonders will no longer appear on NPR's website."

David Candow, ‘host whisperer’ and public radio trainer, dies at 74

David Candow, who was nicknamed “The Host Whisperer” for his work training hundreds of public radio hosts and journalists, died Thursday at his home in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He was 74. After a long career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Candow started a consulting business in 1995 and became known throughout U.S. public radio for his extensive work training journalists in writing, editing, interviewing and delivery. In 2008, the Washington Post described him as “a kind of Henry Higgins to broadcasting's Eliza Doolittles.”
His death prompted an outpouring of remembrances throughout public radio from the hosts and reporters he helped over the years.

PRPD, Day Two: NPR, stations prepare for debut of revised newsmag clocks

PORTLAND, Ore. — This week’s Public Radio Programming Conference is giving attendees a chance to prepare for Nov. 17, the day when new clocks for NPR’s newsmagazines take effect and both stations and the network’s news staffers will need to adjust to the revised formatting. Wednesday’s proceedings featured two opportunities for discussion. At the first, NPR representatives fielded questions from station programmers, with Chris Turpin, acting senior v.p. of news, laying out changes in store.