NPR Avoids Layoffs with Hiring Freeze


NPR will implement a hiring freeze as the program distributor explores ways to cut costs amid a drop in sponsorship revenue.

The move will help NPR avoid layoffs, a tactic that other media companies have employed in recent months, but will also involve a sharp reduction in non-essential spending and travel.

The hiring freeze and spending cuts were first reported by NPR on Wednesday, with information culled from a memo that was distributed to employees by NPR Chief Executive Officer John Lansing.

The memo said NPR would need to explore ways to cut at least $10 million from its current fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2023. One byproduct of the hiring freeze is that NPR will almost certainly not be able to fill nearly 140 vacancies that have resulted in “long and stressful hours” for some current workers, Lansing affirmed.

“That is not good news,” he wrote. “But it is a reality we can’t avoid if we are to save jobs.”

The hiring freeze and cost-cutting builds on a trend among media outlets that have seen a reduction in revenue as advertisers ease spending due to forecasts of prolonged economic turbulence.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported satellite radio pioneer SiriusXM was exploring layoffs as a way to address a recent slump in subscription sales and a weakening ad market. The company’s subscriber growth is closely tied with new and used car sales; global supply chain issues triggered by the two-year coronavirus health pandemic challenged SiriusXM’s ability to add more subscribers.

Other companies say they’re in a better position to weather the effects of an economic downturn. During a conference call with investors last month, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman said the company’s business “is concentrated more toward the larger advertisers” who continue to spend even as economist warn of trouble ahead.

“We ran an analysis recently in Q3, and our largest advertisers substantially outperformed our smaller advertisers,” Pittman said. “We asked ourselves, okay, what’s behind that? And I think a large advertiser has the ability to spend even in slower economic times.”


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