Buyouts Weren’t Enough: Bay Area Public Radio Outlet KQED Will Have Layoffs

Another public media outlet is instituting layoffs and job cuts to offset a budget shortage. San Francisco non-commercial news/talk KQED (88.5) is expected to dismiss up to 25 employees.

In April, KQED instituted a voluntary buyout program. CEO Michael Islip said a small amount of buyout packages were accepted, but not enough to offset the need for further cuts to the station’s staff.

As part of the voluntary buyout program, employees who are 55 and older and have been with the company for at least 10 continuous years were offered early retirement packages. The station said it would also consider buyouts for interested employees who don’t reach the early retirement guideline. Those who accepted the offered plans will cease working for the organization June 14.

“We’re continuing to assess the impact of the response to the voluntary departure offers on our budget,” KQED Director of Communications Peter Cavagnaro said in a statement to the SF Gate.

According to Islip’s email this week to staff, details on the affected employees would be provided by the end of the month.

Citing a community report, the SF Gate says KQED’s total revenue was $90.4 million in 2023, while expenses were $100.9 million. In addition to the radio station, which is simulcast on KQEI Sacramento (89.3), KQED Inc. owns and operates PBS affiliate KQED-TV.

Other public media groups that have instituted layoffs and buyouts include KPCC Los Angeles (89.3) and The University of Washington news/talk KUOW Seattle (94.9). In April, Boston University news/talk WBUR Boston (90.9) said the station was cutting 14% of its staff through a combination of buyouts and layoffs in hopes of reducing expenses by $4 million, or 10% of its annual budget. Also in April, non-commercial news/talk KQED (88.5) San Francisco initiated voluntary buyout plans. Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting news/talk WESA (90.5) and adult alternative WYEP (91.3), and Santa Monica College news/talk KCRW Los Angeles made similar cost-cutting moves.

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