NPR Cuts 10% of Staff and Halts Production of 4 Podcasts
NPR laid off 10 percent of its staff this week and announced that it would stop production of four popular podcasts — “Invisibilia,” “Louder Than a Riot,” “Rough Translation” and “Everyone & Their Mom” — to make up for a $30 million gap in its budget.
The layoffs were widespread across different departments and included producers, hosts, audience researchers and designers. NPR first announced the layoffs last month after eliminating open positions, restricting nonessential travel and suspending internship programs, moves that it said saved only $14 million.
“Unfortunately, NPR has had to take painful but necessary steps to address a $30 million shortfall in revenues from corporate sponsorship,” Isabel Lara, a spokeswoman for NPR, said in an email statement on Saturday. “We’ve tried as much as possible to retain our industry-leading podcast portfolio, including all daily and weekly shows, and focus on key strategic priorities, daily habits and serving new audiences.”
NPR’s union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NPR is among several media companies that have laid off workers in recent months amid falling advertising revenue and the threat of a recession. The Washington Post, CNN, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group and Gannett have all reduced their staff numbers.
Ms. Lara said that the four podcasts were not being canceled.
“These groundbreaking projects include some of the best work NPR has ever done,” she said. “We are losing some amazing people. We are exploring ways this work can continue in other forms.”
Although production is stopping, she added, “we’re not using the word ‘canceling,’ as the work may continue in other forms.”
“Invisibilia,” a podcast about the invisible forces that guide human behavior, began in January 2015, around the beginning of the podcast boom. It quickly reached No. 1 on Apple Podcasts, and its episodes were streamed or downloaded more than 10 million times in four weeks.
NPR will also halt production of “Everyone & Their Mom,” a comedy spinoff of the company’s weekend news quiz show, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”
“Rough Translation,” a podcast that tells stories from places around the world in a relatable manner, will stop production after its new season airs this summer.
“How to say goodbye to a show that you’ve made for 6 years?” Gregory Warner, the host of the show, said on Twitter. “I’ll be trying to figure that out.”
“Louder Than a Riot,” a music podcast, will also cease production after its current, second season. The show explores marginalization in hip-hop and how misogynoir — the combined racism and misogyny against Black women — is embedded in culture.
“Our producers and editor have been laid off, although NPR would like everyone to stay on until June to finish publishing the show,” the show’s Twitter account said in a thread. “We are taking some time to process what this looks like for our staff.”
Ms. Lara said that the layoffs had been structured in a way so they would not disproportionately affect people of color and other marginalized groups. However, the “Louder Than a Riot” account said in its Twitter thread that most of those who had been laid off were queer people and people of color.
“This is a painful time for everyone in this organization,” Ms. Lara said. “We will work across teams and functions to advance, realign and reprioritize where we need to.”
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