It’s clear that public radio is not immune from the economic downturn…NPR announced a major cutback this week, reducing its workforce by 7%, through a layoff of 64 employees due to the weakening economy. It’s also cancelling two programs: Day to Day, and News and Notes.
Day to Day is broadcast on VPR weekdays from 2-3 p.m. Although the program won't end for a few months, we’ll start a process of looking for a replacement in our news lineup that provides the same level of national and global perspective during those hours.
The layoffs at NPR came because of a decline in national underwriting revenue and foundation support that makes up about a third of NPR’s $158 million budget. Member station fees make up about half of NPR’s revenues. Here is a link to NPR’s press release, and a story by NPR’s David Folkenflik on All Things Considered.
And the economy has affected VPR as well. We ended the 2008 fiscal year on budget, and had a very successful fundraiser in October to begin FY 2009. But there have been some warning signs: the average membership pledge during the last drive was less than in previous years. And for the first time in a decade, revenue from business underwriting declined by about 4%. Three months into our fiscal year, those same trends appear to be continuing. As a result, we’ve revised our revenue projections downward by more than $400,000.
We’re looking carefully at all areas of VPR’s budget to make up for the projected shortfall. I’ve put a hold on any vacant full and part-time positions, and everyone is looking at other ways we can reduce expenses this year.
No one knows how much worse the economy will get, but I think VPR is in relatively good shape to weather this storm. We have strong programming, a talented staff, and lots and lots of loyal listeners across this region. We know you’re counting on VPR and NPR to keep you informed about the economy and all the news of the world. I want to assure you that we will continue doing just that, while being prudent and creative with our resources.