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.

New public radio show convenes diverse panel for different take on events

A new show from the African-American Public Radio Consortium examines issues through the views of artists, activists, academics and journalists — all of them women of color. Hosted by longtime broadcaster Esther Armah, The Spin now airs on WNAA in Greensboro, N.C.; a digital channel of WWFM in Trenton, N.J.; and the Internet station Radio Phoenix. It also airs on commercial radio in Accra, Ghana, and Armah hopes it will find a home on London airwaves as well. Stations in Atlanta and Chicago have also expressed interest. Armah formerly worked for BBC Radio 4 and Pacifica Radio’s New York station, WBAI.

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.

Former PBS Distribution executive accused of embezzling $2.1 million

The former finance director of PBS Distribution, a partnership between PBS and Boston’s WGBH that handles digital and video sales, is accused of embezzling some $2.1 million in a lawsuit filed Monday. Christopher C. Morris of Chelsea, Mass., allegedly deposited 202 checks in his personal account at Citizens Bank from 2008-13 that were payable to PBS, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The lawsuit does not say how long Morris worked for PBSd. Morris forged PBS’s endorsement on the checks, the lawsuit contends. Federal Insurance Co.

NPR cuts Krulwich blog from website

After a four-year run, science correspondent Robert Krulwich’s blog on, 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.”