1 This -- Deficits, Layoffs, Sadness -- is NPR | The Billfold

This — Deficits, Layoffs, Sadness — is NPR

What came up when I did a search this morning

One of America’s premiere cultural products is downsizing. Again.

NPR announced Tuesday that it would cease broadcast of the weekday program Tell Me More on Aug. 1 and eliminate 28 positions as part of a larger effort to end the company’s persistent budget deficits. … The earlier buyouts led to the departure of dozens of people throughout the company. Eight of the 28 positions being eliminated are already vacant, Senior Vice President for News Margaret Low Smith told staffers.

Ultimately, NPR’s total head count will be 7 percent lower than where it stood last year — there will be 9 percent fewer newsgathering positions. NPR has run deficits in all but one of the past six fiscal years, including the one ending Sept. 30.

NPR’s finances are fascinating and complex, and if you’re interested there is lots of read on the subject. More relevant to the specific news of today, though, is that programs specifically targeted for minorities are suffering: “Tell Me More‘s demise is the third for programs expressly designed to have a primary appeal for African-American listeners and other people of color.” Are those shows markedly less profitable and popular, or does radio function like horror movies and kill off the black characters first?


7 Comments / Post A Comment

aetataureate (#1,310)

oh I have so many thoughts about public radio. Obnoxiously many.

Martin’s right on when she mentions executive churn. NPR may not have the resources right now to heartfully invest in and support programming directed at POC, and I’m sorry the goals she established with previous executives aren’t respected by whoever’s in charge now. It’s a tough shitty thing.

sarahsayssoo (#4,237)

I think we save public radio by supporting it and also by thinking of and suggesting other creative methods of fundraising.

I wasn’t able to give during the last pledge drive because I had a looming bill of unknown size so I was in saving mode but this post did remind me to renew my membership now

Sloane (#675)

Tell Me More was one of my least favorite NPR programs (Michelle Martin has a very, very annoying interview style IMO), but I’m always sad to see an NPR program go. Still missing Talk of the Nation….

Aunt Scar (#5,377)

A friend and I were talking about NPR, and one of the problems we identified is that their creation/feeder system is in poor shape. A lot of the new programs are pretty much dupes of old programs. This American Life is essentially the same as Radio Lab, Tell Me More is just another version of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, America’s Test Kichen covers the same material as The Splendid Table. We’ve also got Zombie Car Talk still taking up space on Saturday morning, and Garrison Keillor is going to drop dead sooner or later and there’s nothing to replace Prairie Home Companion but Wits (which is actually pretty good since Ben Blacker started writing for it.) Honestly, the only think I find myself listening to is the BBC news on Saturday and Sunday nights.

@Aunt Scar But “This American Life” is totally different from “Radiolab” — one is Humanities and the other is #STEM! “Snap Judgment” is TAL-like, though I think mostly in a good way, and I agree that Zombie Car Talk should be towed; it’s idling on the curb of NPR and choking us all on its exhaust. But “Wait Wait” is super fun, as is its cooler step-sibling “Ask Me Another.” And “The Moth!” Maybe I’m just an NPR geek.

aproprose (#1,832)


Stanley (#6,750)

I’m always baffled by people who find “Wait, Wait” good and/or funny. It is neither. It’s seems like a skit that SNL would make. “Oh, this is what urban liberals pretend is funny so they can seem hip, cool, and witty at brunch and their cocktail parties.”

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