Public Radio Sees Revenue Growth While TV Lags, Says CPB


With public media layoffs becoming a monthly occurrence and intensified scrutiny on the sector coming from Capitol Hill, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has released its first post-pandemic State of the System report, with surprising results for radio.

The report detailed a slight overall revenue decline of $11 million or 0.4% for fiscal year 2023 compared to the previous year, however, radio stations saw a modest increase in direct revenue, up by $4 million – or 0.2% – in fiscal year 2023. Individual giving for radio improved, adding $20 million, although the number of contributors slightly declined from 3.13 million to 3.07 million.

Total expenses for radio saw an increase of $70 million, around 4% year over year.

TV stations experienced a decrease of $37 million, or 2% in direct revenue, during the same period. Public TV also saw a $68 million drop in individual donations, though the number of donors remained constant at 3.63 million.

The employment landscape within public media also reflected a contraction, with fewer job openings and hirings reported. The number of job openings fell from 4,020 in 2022 to 3,317 in 2023, and hirings decreased from 2,469 to 2,048 over the same period.

As mentioned, the workforce in public radio is most negatively affected by negative changes, with total staff numbers slightly decreasing in 2023. Larger grantees reported a reduction of 57 employees, which aligns with reports of layoffs within the sector.

In May, Louisville Public Media cut eight employees, San Francisco’s KQED laid off 8% of its staff, and LAist (KPCC) announced a buyout plan. Additionally, Boston’s WBUR, Santa Monica’s KCRWChicago Public RadioWAMU in Washington DC, New York Public Radio, and CapRadio in Sacramento have also experienced buyouts and layoffs within the past year.

Comparatively, the total number of radio staff has diminished by nearly 200 since before the pandemic, with the most significant decreases occurring among the smaller grantees. Specifically, compared to 2019, staff numbers at smaller grantees have declined by 186, representing a reduction of almost 15% in this group.


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