Bay Area’s KQED Lays Off 8% As The Broadcaster Cuts 34 Jobs


Bay Area public radio broadcaster KQED is laying off 19 employees as part of an 8% overall staff reduction. An additional 11 employees have accepted early retirement and voluntary departure offers as the company faces an $8 million deficit for fiscal year 2024.

The remaining four of the 34 eliminated positions were vacant positions that will not be replaced. President and CEO Michael Isip says the cuts are expected to save KQED $4.5 million annually. KQED aims to reach a balanced budget by 2027. Buyout offers were extended to employees in April.

The employees who accepted the buyout will conclude their employment on June 14.

The staff cuts impact numerous departments across the country, including television and radio broadcasting operations, membership, live events, audience intelligence, corporate sponsorship development, human resources, digital video, and podcasts.

Other cost-saving measures include automating overnight radio master control. In response to the move, the union representing KQED master control employees, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, is challenging the decision as a contract violation.

KQED will also not renew leases for its satellite office and signage in downtown San Jose.

The public broadcaster, an NPR and PBS affiliate serving the San Francisco Bay Area, reported $90.4 million in revenues against $100.9 million in expenses for 2023.

The broader public radio industry is facing similar challenges, with declining listenership and changes in how audiences consume news. NPR has seen a 30% drop in weekly listenership since 2020, and KQED’s weekly listeners have declined by 26% since June 2021

Isip commented, “Unless we were to do something, the deficit would continue to grow. We’ve been able to tap our reserves to fill the gap and give us a little bit of time, and that’s just not a sustainable approach…The people of KQED are what make this organization so special. And when you lose colleagues, it not only impacts your day-to-day work, but it impacts overall morale.”

In California, LAist (KPCC) announced a buyout plan on May 10. Santa Monica’s KCRW, which also serves the Los Angeles market, made staff reductions via buyouts and a programming cut to make up the difference of a $3 million budget shortfall in January.

Additionally, Boston’s WBURChicago Public RadioWAMU in Washington DC, New York Public Radio, and CapRadio in Sacramento have also experienced buyouts and layoffs within the past year.


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