National Public Radio faces $23 million deficit

Facing a $23 million budget deficit for 2009, National Public Radio will eliminate 64 filled and 21 unfilled positions and cancel two of its programs, “Day to Day” and “News and Notes.”

Both programs will make their final broadcast March 20, which will also represent the last day for the show-related positions; other affected jobs will end Jan. 12.

Layoffs represent 7% of NPR’s overall workforce.

While an NPR representative would not confirm the names of any affected employees, the layoffs will include entertainment correspondent Kim Masters. “Day to Day” is hosted by Alex Chadwick and Madeleine Brand; “News and Notes” is hosted and produced by Farai Chideya.

In an internal email, NPR interim CEO Dennis Haarsager said the cuts would come from across the organization, including “reporting, editorial, and production staffs; station services; digital media; research; communications; and administrative support.”

Of “Day to Day” and “News and Notes,” Haarsager wrote, “Neither program was attracting sufficient levels of audience or national underwriting necessary to sustain continued production under these tough financial circumstances.”

NPR’s primary funding source is listener donations, followed by corporate sponsorships. The organization also draws on the NPR Endowment Fund for Excellence, created in 1993 to provide funding beyond revenue sources that can be affected by outside factors such as the economy. In 2003, the endowment received a $200 million bequest from the Joan B. Kroc estate; however, according to NPR, legal restrictions severely limit the endowment’s expenditure.

(Anne Thompson contributed to this report.)

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