New York Public Radio lays off several members of staff within podcasting division

Organisation cuts two podcasts to reduce costs and prioritise news

New York Public Radio, the parent company of listener-supported channel WNYC, has laid off 6% of its staff - amounting to 20 employees - and cut two of its podcast productions to reduce costs and prioritise local news coverage and multiplatform audio, according to a memo sent out to staff last Thursday. 

The two podcasts that ceased production from WNYC Studios are history podcast More Perfect, which has been running since 2016, and Puerto Rican culture podcast La Brega which has been running since 2021. Members of staff who worked on them were among those affected by the layoffs, according to the host of More Perfect Julia Longoria and host and producer of La Brega Alana Casanova-burgess on Twitter. 

“The incredibly talented team [at More Perfect] lost our jobs today,” said Longoria in a tweet. “I’m feeling so grateful for the time we spent telling vital, heartbreaking, damn good stories about the high court. And now, we plot the next move.”

Casanova-burgess also tweeted that since La Brega is a co-production of Futuro Studios, the creative division of Futuro Media is now actively raising funds to continue producing the podcasting and keeping the “beautiful community of listeners” going. 

According to the internal memo that was sent to staff, the layoffs were a “tough choice” and a result of macroeconomic conditions that have led to a slowdown in podcast advertising. The company now plans to shift its strategy to focus on prioritising local news coverage, multiplatform audio, classical music, partnerships, and community engagement - according to the Gothamist, which is also owned by WNYC.

“The decisions we’re announcing today aren’t a judgment call on the value of this work or the talent of these teams,” said New York Public Radio president and chief executive officer LaFontaine Oliver. “But as your leader, I can’t deny that the ground has shifted beneath our feet, and even the largest commercial players in the podcasting space are readjusting to the changing financial realities of this platform.”

Oliver previously announced that New York Public Radio would be laying off 12% of its staff members instead of 6%, but the number was reduced due to negotiations with the SAG-AFTRA union, which represents reporters in addition to others in the entertainment industry. Two additional members of staff transferred to new positions and three have accepted buyouts that were negotiated by the union. 

A number of other companies and platforms have cut back on podcast investments due to the state of the advertising industry, including podcast production company Pushkin Industries which recently laid off 17 out of 54 employees to cut costs, and Sony Music Entertainment, which announced its third round podcast layoffs in September and reportedly cut the production of its hit podcast High Low with EmRata

In March this year, non-profit US media organisation NPR also announced that it was ceasing production of four podcasts within its network amidst a round of staff layoffs in order to cut costs after facing $30 million in operating budget loss in February. The organisation, in a similar move to New York Public Radio, decided to prioritise news coverage and did not cancel any of its radio programs as they were considered “essential” to keep the company moving forward.