Layoffs Rock Colorado Public Radio; WBUR Boston Warns Of Similar Cuts. | Story

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Layoffs have hit Colorado Public Radio with 15 employees dismissed in what’s been described as the largest cut to the public media group’s payroll in a quarter century, affecting 8% of the pubcaster’s workforce.

The cuts mainly affected the audio and podcast production departments. According to a report on cpr.org, employees were laid off on Tuesday and Wednesday and an all-staff meeting was scheduled for this morning.

“This was a painful and difficult decision to come to, but it is necessary to reset the organization financially and position CPR for future success,” President/CEO Stewart Vanderwilt said in a release following the meeting. “This is a strategic reduction in workforce to clearly focus our efforts to provide free access to Colorado-focused news across the state, and to do so while being sustainable in the face of changing economic realities. And it is also never easy to say goodbye to talented, hard-working colleagues.”

The 15 positions affected include CPR’s standalone podcasting unit and staff that supported production in the network’s on-site performance studio, as well as part-time and full-time music staff.

CPR’s Audio Innovations Studio, which launched in 2019 and has produced podcasts and documentaries, will be closed. Two new podcast producer positions will be added to the CPR Newsroom, which was not affected by the cuts.

“I hate to see talented colleagues lose their positions for financial reasons,” Kevin Dale, CPR News Executive Editor said in the article. “CPR News has been growing into a powerful news source for the past six years. Our mission has been to become an urgent newsroom that also has time to devote to enterprise reporting and accountability reporting, and we remain dedicated to that.”

The other eliminated roles include production positions that primarily worked in CPR’s on-site Performance Studio and some on-location projects. In CPR’s music services, one full-time position has been eliminated and three part-time roles will be consolidated into one full-time position.

CPR expanded from 48 employees in 2006 to 214 in 2022. However, in recent years revenue has not kept pace with expenses. According to the report, expenses exceeded revenue by $1.3 million in fiscal year 2022 and by $2.3 million in fiscal year 2023. Member donations remain strong, but corporate sponsorship has been down. Meanwhile, programming and fundraising expenses have risen by millions of dollars.

Colorado Public Radio is a state network of radio signals offering news, classical, and adult alternative programming.

Across the country, Boston University’s news/talk WBUR (90.9) is facing possible layoffs as the station is also dealing with a decrease in sponsorship revenue. In a letter to donors, CEO Margaret Low said that sponsorships have dropped by $7 million in recent years.

“At WBUR we’ve seen a dramatic loss of sponsorship support. In the digital age, almost all that money now goes to the big platforms — like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Spotify,” Low wrote. “This is bad news for the news business and has created big gaps that can’t easily be filled. In the last five years, our annual on-air sponsorship income (underwriting) has dropped by more than 40% — nearly $7 million.” In a stark warning, she says that sponsorship dollars won’t return to previous levels. “These are not temporary ups and downs,” Low explains. “They’re long-term shifts.”

Low continues, writing, “Given our current economics, we’ll likely need to make some tough choices in the coming months. That could include everything from freezing open positions to eliminating jobs.”

She asks donors to increase their support by making an additional gift donation.



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