National Public Radio (NPR) recently announced layoffs that will affect 10% of its workforce, in a bid to address a $30 million budget shortfall. The move comes as many media companies, including The Washington Post, CNN, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group, and Gannett, have also recently made layoffs due to declining advertising revenue and the prospect of a recession. The layoffs at NPR have affected a variety of roles, including producers, hosts, audience researchers, and designers across several departments.
In order to address the budget shortfall, NPR has also decided to stop producing four podcasts: “Invisibilia,” “Louder Than a Riot,” “Rough Translation,” and “Everyone & Their Mom,” according to The New York Times. These podcasts cover a range of topics, from exploring the unseen influences that control people’s behavior to examining the intersection of racism and misogyny in hip-hop.
Despite the decision to stop production on these podcasts, NPR spokeswoman Isabel Lara noted that the organization has attempted to retain its industry-leading podcast portfolio, including all daily and weekly shows, and focus on key strategic priorities, daily habits, and serving new audiences.
The decision to cease production on these podcasts is undoubtedly a difficult one for NPR, as they represent some of the best work the organization has produced. “Invisibilia,” for example, debuted in January 2015 at the start of the podcast boom and swiftly rose to the top of Apple Podcasts. “Everyone & Their Mom,” a comic spinoff of NPR’s weekend news quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” will also no longer be produced, after its new season airs this summer.
Likewise, the podcast “Rough Translation,” which shares relatable tales from all across the world, will cease production after its current season airs. The program’s host, Gregory Warner, expressed his sadness over the end of the show on Twitter, saying, “How do you end a show that you’ve been producing for six years? I’ll be attempting to determine that.”
The last season of the music podcast “Louder Than a Riot” will also be its last. The show explores racism and misogyny united against Black women in hip-hop, as well as how these attitudes are ingrained in popular culture. The show’s Twitter account confirmed that “Our producers and editor have been laid off, however, NPR would prefer everyone to continue on until June to finish publishing the show.”
The layoffs at NPR were planned so as not to disproportionately affect people of color and other vulnerable groups, according to Lara. Nevertheless, the “Louder Than a Riot” account previously raised concern about the fact that people of color and queer people were disproportionately affected by the layoffs. However, the show later clarified on Twitter that NPR’s target audience is unchanged from before the layoffs.
The decision to cease production on these podcasts, along with the layoffs, represents a difficult time for NPR and its employees. However, Lara noted that the organization is committed to collaborating across teams and functions to realign and reprioritize when necessary. As NPR continues to navigate the challenges posed by declining advertising revenue and the prospect of a recession, it will undoubtedly need to make difficult decisions in the coming months and years.