WBHM cuts staff amid operating losses

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WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., cut staff positions Monday, Executive Director William Dahlberg confirmed in an email to Current. 

“WBHM unfortunately needed to reduce our team in order to remain financially sustainable and protect our ability to continue to serve our community with important local and national news and entertainment,” Dahlberg wrote. 

Dahlberg declined to share specifics about how many positions were cut or which were affected. “It would be inappropriate to comment on specific personnel matters,” he wrote. He added that no programming was being cut or reduced. 

PD Michael Krall announced on Twitter that he was one of four staff members laid off. “As the longest serving full-time employee, after nearly 25 years in programming WBHM, thousands of hours on the air, and countless artist interviews, it’s been a privilege to serve listeners in Birmingham and the Heart of Alabama,” Krall wrote. 

Reporter Cody Short said on Twitter Tuesday that she was also laid off.

The station reported operating losses in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 of more than $300,000, according to its most recent audited financial statement. Even factoring in income from its university licensee, which is not considered operating revenue, the station still reported a deficit both fiscal years. The station had operating revenue of more than $2 million each year. 

“So far, we have taken all possible measures to cut expenses while avoiding reductions to programming, our team, and or our service to the community,” Dahlberg wrote in an email to station supporters earlier this month obtained by Current. “Despite recent and important gains and savings, WBHM is still projecting a significant operating deficit through the remainder of our fiscal year that ends on September 30th.” 

Dahlberg declined to say how much of an operating deficit the station is projecting. 

“Many public radio stations across the country are dealing with financial uncertainties,” he wrote. “Like most of these stations, WBHM has seen declines in new member acquisition as well as declines in business and corporate support, while also experiencing increases with costs, particularly with program providers. These are the largest contributing factors to WBHM’s current operating deficit. That deficit is fluid, and final financial numbers will not be available until the end of the current fiscal year.”

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