Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) plans to cut over 10% of its staff positions due to a revenue shortfall caused by a decline in Hollywood studio advertising. The CEO, Herb Scannell, announced that 21 out of approximately 175 positions will be eliminated, primarily affecting administrative staff, producers, and technicians.
The decision over the Southern California Public Radio staff cuts comes as a response to the need for faster and more comprehensive reporting on the website, which was highlighted during a heavy rain emergency in Montecito. Scannell hopes to create at least seven new reporting and data analyst positions for the website within the next year to address the staffing imbalance.
SCPR’s revenue has fluctuated significantly in recent years, ranging from $30 million in fiscal year 2018-19 to a high of $42 million the following year. Ad revenue, which accounts for 20-25% of their income, has decreased due to economic uncertainties and factors like the current writer’s strike affecting Hollywood studios. Contributions from listeners and readers, along with philanthropic support, make up the majority of SCPR’s revenue.
Despite initially expanding into podcasts under Scannell’s leadership, the organization now plans to scale back due to the volatile nature of the podcast industry, which relies heavily on advertising. While certain podcasts will continue and expand, some short-run series will be discontinued.
It remains unclear how many of the affected positions involve unionized employees represented by SAG-AFTRA. Union representatives identified nine members who were informed about their layoffs. LAist Senior Reporter Jill Replogle, a SAG-AFTRA shop steward, expressed surprise at the decision, as recent contract negotiations had not indicated impending layoffs. Replogle hopes for management to reconsider and offer buyouts instead.
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