KQED offers buyouts to employees

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Jason O’Rear/KQED

KQED in San Francisco is offering buyouts to staff to offset a budget deficit, CEO Michael Isip told staff in a Wednesday email obtained by Current.

The station is offering an voluntary “early retirement” program for staff over 55 years old who have worked for KQED for 10 years or more. It would include a lump sum payout based on years of service and ending employment June 14. A separate buyout package is also available for all other employees. 

The station set a deadline of May 10 for staff to participate. SFGate first reported on the buyouts. 

Isip wrote in the email that the organization has had a board-approved budget deficit for the last two years and is “now projecting a higher than expected budget deficit at the end of this fiscal year.” 

“This is not sustainable long term and we need to take action and find savings to get us back on track to reducing our deficit,” he wrote.

In fiscal year 2023, KQED’s operating expenses were more than $10 million above revenue, according to its most recent audited financial report. In fiscal year 2022, expenses were more than $2 million above revenue.  

Isip added that KQED implemented “short-term cost savings measures” earlier this year but that “our expenses continue to outpace our revenue growth.”

“Like many public and commercial media outlets, KQED faces financial challenges and needs to make budget reductions,” the station said in a statement shared by a KQED spokesperson.

The buyout program “has been put in place to empower qualified employees to make their own career decisions, and enables us to minimize any layoffs and budget cuts,” the statement said. “We feel this is the most pragmatic and thoughtful way to confront this challenge at this time.”

Despite the buyout program, the station is expecting more cuts, according to Isip. 

“[W]e anticipate that we’ll need to find additional savings to close the budget gap which could include finding efficiencies in how we work, freezing open positions and layoffs,” Isip wrote.

The station won’t make decisions about additional cuts “until we have clarity on how many people request a voluntary departure package,” he wrote. 

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