New York Public Radio, which operates news/talk WNYC-AM/FM (820/93.9), classical WQXR (105.9) and The Gothamist, has laid off 14 employees citing financial difficulties compounded by the pandemic.
“The Senior Leadership Team and I have worked extremely hard to keep our team together this past year, and have done everything we could to avoid the layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts that countless other media organizations have been forced to make,” CEO Goli Skeikholeslami wrote in a staff memo. The CEO explained that the organization is “entering the next fiscal year with a sizable deficit and we cannot achieve our goals and meet our commitments while shouldering a fourth year of losses. That is why we have made the difficult decision to cut 14 positions, 4% of our staff, across the organization.”
The job losses include four employees in the news department and ten in other departments. Exiting in the process are WNYC Supervising Senior Producer Richard Yeh, who also oversaw “All Things Considered,” Gothamist Editor-in-Chief John Del Signore, Greene Space Assistant Production Manager Allie Pinel and Gothamist City Editor Christopher Robbins.
Other cost-saving measures include: the suspension of merit increases for the Senior Leadership Team for the second straight year; a reduction of the performance-based bonus pool for the Senior Leadership Team and other eligible employees by 50%; suspension of merit pay increases for employees making more than $100k in FY22; a reduction of the 403(b) match for all employees by 50% for the six-month period beginning July 1; and an introduction of a new 10-day cap on vacation carryover, beginning FY23 (July 2022), and a five-day cap beginning FY24 (July 23) and beyond.
“These decisions were not made lightly or with haste,” the Skeikholeslami memo continued. “We have done everything we can to avoid taking these steps. But we need to reverse the deficit, return the organization to health and sustainability, and position ourselves for future growth.”
Skeikholeslami also identified several challenges the public media group faces in FY22, including sponsorship, membership and the payback of money borrowed to fund the deficit.
“In aggregate, the actions we are announcing today reduce our deficit by $3 million for FY22, enabling us to get on a path to financial sustainability,” Skeikholeslami wrote. “Without taking the additional cost-saving measures, the number of staff cuts would have been far greater.”