The Journal quotes an email written by KCRW General Manager Ruth Seymour, who expresses concerns that the cash-strapped NPR is veering away from its commitment to radio, and hurting member stations in the process:
Faced with a $23 million deficit, NPR recently instituted layoffs and canceled its West Coast shows "Day to Day" and "News and Notes." Member stations worry that other programs could suffer, too, which in turn could cost them when fund-raising season comes around. They also took issue with statement made at an NPR staff meeting that member station could raise funds directly for NPR. From the WSJ:
The most baffling and egregious development is NPR's firing journalists at the same time as it appears to be hiring more online staff. Experienced broadcast journalists -- like John McChesney, Jacki Lydon, Kim Masters -- were let go. Since that time the network has posted at least five online jobs.
Moreover, NPR's lack of interest in producing new programs for radio is alarming. Radio is our core business and our greatest achievement. Now some of the most gifted independent producers tell me that they are bypassing NPR and distributing their programs elsewhere. This is an ominous portent for the future of our network.
Those of us who venerate broadcast journalism and believe that it is our central mission (and I count you among us) are dismayed by these developments.
Some member stations fear NPR budget cuts might hurt the quality of marquee public radio shows "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," making it harder for local stations to raise funds during those shows, which typically bring in the lion's share of listener donations and corporate underwriting...*Note: I should make clear that I am a producer at KCRW (see bio in right hand column). I have no say or role in station management and learned about this story from reading the Wall Street Journal.
Currently, station fund drives raise money for the stations themselves, although some of the money goes toward dues to NPR for its programming.