NPR Cutting Staff, Shows as Recession Hits Airwaves

National Public Radio said Wednesday that it's laying off 7 percent of its staff, its first downsizing in 12 years, after experiencing sharp declines in funding, especially from corporate sponsors.

NPR said the layoffs affect 64 full-time staff, of whom half come from news and programming. The rest are in station services, engineering, information technology, communications, research, digital media and administration. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Another 21 job vacancies will not be filled. NPR also cut travel and discretionary expenses across the organization. NPR is also canceling two shows, Day to Day and News and Notes, which have not received the audience traction, station carriage and corporate sponsorship that could make the shows self-sustaining.

"This is happening in response to the current economic downturn," said Mitch Praver, chief operating officer of NPR, in an interview.

He said NPR is projecting a $23 million shortfall for fiscal 2009 — an 8 percent decline — to $145 million. Corporate sponsorships are projected to fall by about a third.

Employees were told Wednesday about the layoffs, which take effect in January for many workers.