Los Angeles’ LAist is latest public radio station seeking staff buyout

NPR’s second Los Angeles-area affiliate is responding to financial challenges by introducing a voluntary buyout program designed to reduce its workforce while trying to avoid layoffs. LAist (KPCC) is working to reduce the impact of a multi-million dollar budget gap.

The buyout applies to all full- and part-time employees who work at least 24 hours a week. LAist chief content officer Kristen Muller sent an email to station members detailing a projected deficit of $4 million to $5 million over the next two years.

In an email shared by LAist reporter and union steward Caitlin Hernández, Mueller wrote: “Sustaining high-quality journalism is becoming increasingly difficult. Daily costs continue to rise; for The annual fees you pay to bring national programming are increasing year on year, and so are local fees. The traditional financial model no longer works and most of the advertising dollars that once supported us are now going to big tech platforms like Facebook and Google, resulting in huge increases in sponsorship revenue. Decline – This is a tough pill to swallow.

“When your expenses exceed your income, you either reduce costs, save expenses, or increase income. We are urgently working on all three and reducing all non-wage expenses where possible. Still, the gap remains.

Mueller continues to press for increased donations, which account for more than two-thirds of LAist’s funding.

This development at LAist reflects a broader trend in journalism, and public broadcasting in particular. In January, KCRW in Santa Monica, which also serves the Los Angeles market, cut staff through buyouts and programming cuts to close a $3 million budget gap. On the coast, KQED in the Bay Area launched a similar program in April.

Additionally, Boston’s WBUR, Chicago Public Radio, Washington, D.C.’s WAMU, New York Public Radio and Sacramento’s CapRadio have also experienced layoffs in the past year.

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