Bay Area KQED Makes Public Radio’s Latest Staff Buyout Offer


Bay Area broadcaster KQED is the latest in public radio to offer staff buyouts as part of an effort to address a growing budget deficit. KQED President Michael Isip informed staff via an email on April 17, saying layoffs or a hiring freeze are also being considered.

As first reported by SFGATE, the buyout program is targeted primarily at employees aged 55 and older with at least 10 years of service, offering them early retirement packages. Other employees interested in the buyouts are also being considered.

A KQED spokesperson emphasized the buyout as a means to allow employees to make their own career decisions while aiming to minimize layoffs.

The public broadcaster reported total revenues of $90.4 million against expenses of $100.9 million in 2023. The station, an NPR and PBS affiliate, operates radio and television services for the San Francisco Bay Area and recently moved into a new $94 million facility in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2021.

The organization laid off 20 employees in 2020 to mitigate a $7.1 million budget shortfall.

Those who accept this buyout will conclude their employment on June 14.

KQED joins other large-market public radio outlets in using strategic buyouts to keep budgets in check as sponsorship income declines. Both WBUR in Boston and KCRW in Los Angeles have implemented similar measures.

The same day that KQED made this announcement, WBUR reported a 14% workforce reduction through a mix of layoffs and voluntary buyouts. In March, WBUR noted a 40% decline in sponsorship income since 2019.

More than a dozen KCRW employees took buyouts in the wake of a $3 million budget deficit.


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