New York Public Radio lays off 6% of staff

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© Andrew Popper 2018

New York Public Radio cut 20 positions, CEO LaFontaine Oliver told staff Thursday.

The cuts primarily affected roles within WNYC Studios, the division that houses the organization’s podcasts. The layoffs affected the podcasts More Perfect and La Brega, Gothamist reported.

Oliver told staff that “the ground has shifted beneath our feet, and even the largest commercial players in the podcasting space are readjusting to the changing financial realities of this platform.”

“I’m feeling so grateful for the time we spent telling vital, heartbreaking, damn good stories about the high court,” More Perfect host Julia Longoria said on X, formerly Twitter, announcing that the show’s team had lost their jobs. “And now, we plot the next move”

The 6% reduction in staff affected fewer employees than had been expected last week, when Oliver announced a 12% cut. He said that through working with the organization’s employees represented by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, NYPR was able to retain more employees by taking other cost-cutting measures. 

Three staffers accepted voluntary buyouts, and two others changed roles, Oliver said. Nonunion staff will not receive annual pay raises, and an October promotions cycle was canceled this year, he said. 

The union sought to avoid layoffs after last week’s announcement. “We are urging the organization to consider alternatives such as executive pay cuts, buyouts, New York State’s shared work program and furloughs before finalizing any layoffs,” the union wrote in a petition signed by more than 3,000 people. 

Oliver said last week that the organization was facing declines in sponsorship and membership revenue.

“Our north star during our financial and portfolio review was a focus on returning to long-term financial sustainability and protecting our public service mission,” Oliver wrote. “We took a hard look across our portfolio to align our resources where we see clear competitive advantages in a crowded media landscape, and in a changing New York.”

The organization will “target resources” on news coverage of New York City, shows that reach broadcast and on-demand audiences, classical music and partnerships, and community engagement, he said. 

Oliver added that “it’s critical to our mission that we expand collaborations with other cultural organizations and media partners, to help build the fabric of the NYC conversation and play a bigger role in the New York City ecosystem.”

3 thoughts on “New York Public Radio lays off 6% of staff

  1. This isn’t on public radio, solely, nor public media. The podcast economics issue has been with us for a long time in both for-profit and non-profit. Reminds me a bit of the first bubble/bust when investors and managers figuratively did a head slap and said “hey wait a second, our revenue isn’t covering our expenses.” and the burn rate was stupid high. That’s where podcasting is today.

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