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At NPR and Beyond, the Cuts Just Keep Coming

(Can't we just all focus on basketball?)

I think I’m more focused than usual on the NCAA basketball games this March, in part to distract myself from all the job losses going on in the industry. It’s hard to keep writing about companies cutting jobs and costs — especially when you’ve been though that a few times in radio, too. This week we heard about cost cutting and job losses at Westwood One and Arbitron.

Meanwhile NPR is going through another round of cost-cutting, after learning the cuts it made in December were not enough. It faces a projected $8 million deficit in FY2009 and $7 million in FY2010.

New President Vivian Schiller is soliciting ideas from staff on how to trim costs and reviewing discretionary spending like travel, consultants and subscriptions, a spokeswoman told me. VP level employees and above are taking benefit and compensation cuts effective April 1 for this fiscal year; that includes not taking pay for the last two weeks of the fiscal year. Retirement matches are put on hold for this fiscal year as well. The network also is negotiating with unions AFTRA and NABET about ways to cut costs.

In a memo to station members, Schiller said it’s “highly likely” the network will have to cut additional jobs, though how many hasn’t been set yet.

The network is not filling some jobs, including those vacated by Kevin Klose and Cinny Kennard.

Kennard was general manager of NPR West in Culver City, Calif., but lost that position in the previous round of cuts. She had a part in overseeing the two daily programs produced there, which have been eliminated, as well as heading engineering and support staff. Klose, president emeritus of NPR and former president of the NPR Foundation, is preparing for his new gig as the J-school dean at the University of Maryland. (The lady Terps are going to the Sweet 16, btw.)