NPR offering buyouts to cut staff by 10 percent

WASHINGTON — NPR said Friday that it was offering across-the-board buyouts in hopes of cutting its staff by 10 percent and eliminating its deficit.

The buyouts, which are to be offered across the entire public radio organization, were approved by NPR’s board of directors to help with a projected operating deficit of $6.1 million.

NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio, also announced Friday that Paul Haaga Jr., a board member since 2011, will take over as acting president and CEO effective Sept. 30. A search committee has been appointed to find a permanent replacement.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead one of the world’s leading providers of news, music and cultural programming on an interim basis and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and senior leadership team to help this great organization build on its success,” Haaga said in a statement. He was not available for an interview Friday, NPR said.

Haaga has served as chairman of the board at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and is the retired chairman of the Board of Capital Research and Management Company.

He succeeds Gary Knell, who is leaving after less than two years to become president and CEO of the National Geographic Society. Knell’s predecessor, Vivian Schiller, resigned under pressure after calling the tea party racist.

The leadership change was announced as the board approved a fiscal 2014 budget that includes $178.1 million in operating and investment revenues and expenses of $183 million. NPR says its voluntary buyout plan is intended to reduce the deficit of $6.1 million.

NPR distributes news, information and music programming to 975 public radio stations, reaching 27 million listeners a week. It also has focused heavily in recent years on expanding its digital presence.

In April, NPR moved to a new $201 million headquarters with all digital equipment in Washington. The organization consolidated its staff in one building north of the U.S. Capitol after being spread across several sites for years.

In late 2008, NPR announced it was laying off 7 percent of its staff, the first time it had downsized in 12 years, after experiencing sharp declines in funding, especially from corporate sponsors. The layoffs affected 64 full-time staff, of which half came from news and programming.

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