NPR to lay off 10% of staff as ad revenue drops

NPR will lay off about 10% of its current staffers and stop filling most vacant positions as it contends with a $30 million revenue shortfall, the media nonprofit’s CEO John Lansing told staffers this week.

Lansing warned that NPR’s “financial outlook has darkened considerably over recent weeks” due to a weakening advertising market and a “sharp decline” in revenue from corporate sponsors.

The plunge in sponsorship dollars hammered NPR’s expensive podcast division, which is home to popular shows such as “All Things Considered” and “Fresh Air.”

The cuts will impact about 100 employees in total, according to NPR reporter David Folkenflik.

“When we say we are eliminating filled positions, we are talking about our colleagues – people whose skills, spirit and talents help make NPR what it is today,” Lansing wrote in a memo to staff on Wednesday. “This will be a major loss.”

NPR has an annual budget of $300 million, with approximately 65% devoted to its staffing expenses. The $30 million shortfall was more severe than executives initially projected.

The memo did not specify which roles or divisions would be impacted by the cuts. Lansing said a final decision on which positions will be cut is expected by the week of March 20.

Lansing said the layoffs were unavoidable despite previous measures that erased $14 million in expenses, such as an earlier hiring freeze, restrictions on non-essential travel and a hold on paid internships.

“I recognize that all of this is deeply unsettling, and I know that this introduces an uncomfortable period of uncertainty,” the memo added. “We will move as swiftly as possible to provide clarity about the reductions needed, working in consultation with our unions.”

NPR is the latest of several major media companies to announce layoffs and other cost-cutting measures. The Washington Post, CNN, Vox Media and newspaper giant Gannett have also slashed jobs in recent months while citing a worsening economic outlook.