Sad news hits the airwaves: Layoffs at NPR

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It’s a sad day. We saw Yahoo! go through its second mass layoff in under a year. And now it’s being reported that National Public Radio — of which shows including All Things Considered, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Car Talk have attracted a wide audience via iTunes — has eliminated 7 percent of its workforce, or 64 positions, and canceled two shows, News & Notes and Day to Day, in what is the organization’s first major layoff in more than 25 years, The Washington Post reports.

In this economy, it doesn’t come as a surprise that NPR saw a need to make some cuts -– amounting to $23 million -– despite reaching what it said is a near-record audience of 26.4 million listeners a week. NPR execs cite a drop in corporate sponsorships, which the company relies on for about a third of its revenue, to a projected $33 million for the year instead of the $47 million budgeted.

The two West-coast-based cancelled shows, both of which sought to diversify NPR’s audience, will go off the air on March 20, and 22 journalists working for them will lose their jobs, including hosts Madeleine Brand and Farai Chideya.

NPR is a popular fixture in the tech community. Aside from its popularity on iTunes, its election Twitter account attracted over 14,000 followers and its political and fact-checking stories are frequently bookmarked on Digg.

[photo: flickr/aloshbennett]

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