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Thursday, December 11, 2008

NPR's cuts don't (necessarily) mean cuts at WUNC

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 11:57 AM

Yesterday, NPR announced it would lay off 7 percent of its workforce and eliminate two daily programs.

So how is WUNC, the Triangle’s NPR station, affected by the cuts?

WUNC’s CEO and Interim General Manager Robert Levin said the station aired only one of the programs, “Day to Day,” and is considering what to put in that 3 p.m. time slot. “The main flagship shows are not in jeopardy, fortunately,” he said.

Stations like WUNC pay to air NPR’s programming but are independent of NPR, raising and managing their own budgets, so NPR's plans to lay off 64 employees and cut budgets do not directly affect WUNC. “We haven’t had any layoffs we’re not planning to," Levin said. "We’re just trying to keep our budget as tight as we can."

While the station’s latest fundraising drive was “fantastic,” Levin said underwriting – the public radio equivalent of advertising – is down between 6 and 7 percent this year.

He said he has not heard whether NPR plans to increase its programming fees. Programming and production (for all shows) cost WUNC $3.6 million – more than half of its $6.4 million operating budget in the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the most recent for which financial information is available (PDF).

Update (12/12/08): Laura Leslie, WUNC's state politics reporter, has some news from NPR's Washington office about who's been laid off at her blog, Isaac Hunter's Tavern.

Reader Anthony Wilson yesterday pointed out that two other local public stations, WNCU and WSHA, run NPR programming, including the other axed show "News & Notes." The program is hosted by reporter Farai Chideya and covers topics of concern to African-Americans. It airs at 5 p.m. weekdays on WNCU and at 1 p.m. weekdays on WSHA.

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