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NPR Cuts Programming, Staff


Published December 11, 2008 at 10:28 a.m.

The list of media organizations cutting staff just keeps getting longer, and it's not just in the for-profit media either.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that National Public Radio is laying off 7 percent of its staff, or 64 of the public radio network's 889 employees.

The move is designed to close a $23 million shortfall in current fiscal year, Dennis Haarsager, NPR's interim president and chief executive, told the Post.

The national cuts come on the heels of layoffs at WBEZ-FM in Chicago, home of the popular "This American Life."

The NPR cuts — about half of which will come from the newsroom — will force two news programs off the air. One, "Day to Day", is heard on 186 stations including Vermont Public Radio and is aimed at younger listeners. The other program to be cut is "News & Notes", which airs on 64 stations and is targeted toward African Americans.

Both shows will remain on the air until March.

According to the Post, "the cutbacks constitute a retreat from NPR's efforts to reach new listeners, especially young people and members of minority groups who are not part of NPR's 'core' audience."

As for VPR, President & General Manager Mark Vogelzang said he's glad VPR will have some time to determine what will fill the "Day to Day" slot, which is 2-3 PM on weekdays.

"As we always do, we'll look for ways to provide the same level of national and international news during those hours," Vogelzang told Blurt in an email.

Like its national counterpart, Vogelzang said VPR is keeping a close eye on expenses and staffing levels.

"We're looking at all areas of the organization to see where we can reduce expenses this year. Included in that means holding open any vacant full-time and part-time positions," Vogelzang told Blurt in an email. "We'll definitely be tightening our belts for the rest of this year and into next. That's the prudent thing to do for any non-profit these days."