‘We’ll likely need to make some tough choices’

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The head of WBUR is warning that Boston’s NPR station might have to resort to layoffs, as the media outlet grapples with a major drop in sponsorship income.

WBUR is the latest station that’s dealing with financial woes — which has been impacting news organizations all across the country, leading to buyouts and layoffs.

Similar cost-cutting measures could be coming to the Boston NPR station, but no final decisions have been made.

WBUR CEO Margaret Low in a letter to donors on Wednesday explained the challenging financial situation for the outlet. WBUR’s on-air sponsorship income has plummeted by about $7 million in recent years.

“At WBUR we’ve seen a dramatic loss of sponsorship support,” Low wrote in the letter. “In the digital age, almost all that money now goes to the big platforms — like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Spotify.

“This is bad news for the news business and has created big gaps that can’t easily be filled,” the CEO added. “In the last five years, our annual on-air sponsorship income (underwriting) has dropped by more than 40% — nearly $7 million.”

Low admitted that the sponsorship income will not return to the previous higher levels. As a result, the station is exploring everything from job cuts to a hiring freeze.

“As I shared with my colleagues at a recent all-hands meeting, given our current economics, we’ll likely need to make some tough choices in the coming months,” the CEO wrote. “That could include everything from freezing open positions to eliminating jobs.”



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