Ideastream, the local nonprofit media organization which operates the Cleveland NPR (90.3 WCPN) and PBS (WVIZ) affiliates, as well as classical radio station 104.9 WCLV, will lay off eight employees due to Covid-19 cost-cutting measures.
WCPN's Nick Castele reported the internal news Wednesday, noting that five vacant positions would remain unfilled as well. The eight layoffs, he wrote, will affect ideastream's arts, multimedia and sales teams. (The online version of the story included a postscript indicating that ideastream's management did not edit the story or review it prior to publication.)
Ideastream CEO Kevin Martin communicated the grim news to staff in an email Wednesday. He said that the company would have to cut its expenses by 10 percent in the coming fiscal year, and that declines in corporate underwriting and events revenue led to an atmosphere of financial uncertainty.
Most of these colleagues worked behind the scenes, not in front of the camera or on the microphone, but they were just as important to us and the work that we all do. https://t.co/W46FgzkIw9— Nick Castele (@NickCastele) August 27, 2020
The company's top execs will reportedly take pay cuts in the 10-20 percent range and will forego merit raises as well. Martin told Castele that his top priority for the company, which currently employs 132 in Cleveland and Columbus, was maintaining resources for reporting and producing the news.
The layoffs in Northeast Ohio radio follow significant layoffs in the region's print press corps. This spring, the remainder of the Plain Dealer editorial staff was laid off en masse, completing years of sustained union-busting from the paper's parent company, Advance Publications. Scene laid off roughly half of its staff early in the pandemic as well.
Crain's Cleveland Business hired PD alum Michelle Jarboe and is now hiring a grant-funded higher education reporter, and other media start-ups are sprouting across the region, particularly in the non-profit sector. Ideastream and others have received loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which helped staunch the bleeding, but cuts to the Cleveland news ecosystem in 2020 have been devastating.
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