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Report: NPR Cancels Four Podcasts Amid Major Layoffs


National Public Radio
National Public Radio

NPR moved this week to cut 10 percent of its staff and stop production of a trio of acclaimed seasonal podcasts -- Invisibilia, Louder Than a Riot and Rough Translation -- as it seeks to close a budget gap that stands in excess of $30 million. The network also canceled a comedy podcast unveiled just a year ago called Everyone & Their Mom, a spinoff of the radio program Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

"We literally are fighting to secure the future of NPR at this very moment by restructuring our cost structure. It's that important," said NPR Chief Executive John Lansing in an interview. "It's existential." Lansing said the network sought to protect its core public service mission of journalism while preserving what he calls its "North Star." Since joining NPR four years ago, Lansing has sought a bigger and broader audience base, rooted in younger and more diverse listeners.

A number of long-time NPR staffers have chosen to leave. Some familiar voices are among them, including Senior European Correspondent Sylvia Poggioli, who has been with NPR for 41 years. The network has not made any specific announcements, however, choosing instead to let those departing decide how to share the news. The layoffs also affect people who work behind the scenes to produce the shows and podcasts, design visual elements for the web, conduct audience research, and do the myriad other functions required of a major news network.

Lansing said no member stations would have to shuffle their program schedules, as NPR had not canceled any of its radio shows. He noted that the network has kept those podcasts that have evolved into radio programs. "We've tried very hard to sustain the essential things that will keep us moving forward," said NPR's Senior Vice President of Programming and Audience Development, who oversees the network's entertainment and music content and also most of its podcasts. "That includes our ability to be meaningful to audiences on digital and visual platforms, our radio audiences, our podcast audiences - our narrative journalism."

Most affected NPR staff will stay on until April 28.

This story was oringally reported and written by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik and NPR intern Mary Yang.

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