I worked in radio long enough that I make a point of never revelling in the job misfortunes of others.
So yesterday’s news – 10% staff layoffs at National Public Radio – don’t provoke a happy jig. I wish em all luck, even the most useless mid-level bureaucrat among ’em.
But…has the organization learned the right lessons?
When asked about his priorities, Lansing invoked what he has called the network’s “North Star” since his arrival in the fall of 2019: a push to ensure the network has a bigger and broader audience base, rooted in younger and more diverse listeners, readers and consumers. The emphasis, he says, must be on drawing in “the future audience to make NPR sustainable for the next 50 years.”
“Younger”? Well, over the past decade, the network has sure jammed down more than its share of breezy mediocrities (“It’s Been a Minute”, “The Moth Radio Hour”) – not sure if yesterday’s news is a verdict on that.
As to “more diverse” – they’ve tripled down on antagonizing half their audience. Even their “game shows” carry the message; the once excellent “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me“, which used to include the late PJ O’Rourke as a regular panelist, has become as lively and politically unpredictable as “Late Night with Steven Colbert“.
But you remember above, when I said I didn’t take joy in others misfortunes?
Well, I’m going to ask forgiveness for this, since I’m going to make an exception. Emphasis added:
The layoffs are in keeping with an increasingly grim landscape for media companies over recent months. Vox Media cut jobs by 7%; Gannett and Spotify by 6%. The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, eliminated its Sunday magazine and a handful of other jobs. After becoming part of Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN cut hundreds of jobs and killed off its brand-new streaming service, CNN+.
Maybe it’s not “joy”. Maybe more “I told you so”.
Except Vox. That’s pure childlike joy.