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GBH cuts staff and programming

The GBH headquarters at 1 Guest St., Boston, on May 22, 2024.
Lisa Williams
GBH News
The GBH headquarters at 1 Guest St., Boston, on May 22, 2024.

GBH announced layoffs of 31 staff members on Wednesday, representing 4% of its overall workforce. In late March GBH management warned staff about potential job cuts to address a large budget deficit.

“We made these hard choices only after implementing a range of other cost-saving measures and operating efficiencies,” wrote Susan Goldberg, GBH chief executive in an email to staff Wednesday. “The basic reason for these reductions is simple: revenues are flat and the cost of doing business has gone up. A lot.”

GBH – one of the nation’s largest producers of public media content – has a $7 million budget gap. GBH would not say if further expense cuts are being considered.

The GBH layoffs come one month after Boston’s other NPR station WBUR announced cuts of up to 14% of its staff, which it said were necessary after a deep drop in on-air sponsorships.

The most dramatic cuts are to programming in GBH’s News division. Goldberg announced that local television programs in that department Greater Boston, Talking Politics and Basic Black will cease production immediately.

“We will re-invent them as digital-first programming,” wrote Goldberg. “But for now we are stopping production because, as audience behaviors have changed, these shows no longer draw enough viewers to justify the cost of making them for television.”

Goldberg’s email said 13 departments across the organization were impacted but gave no further detail on where the job cuts were being made. GBH has roughly 850 employees, with about 100 in news, the largest division.

Several staff in the GBH Newsroom were informed on Wednesday that they’d been laid off, according to GBH Newsroom union steward Zoe Mathews, who said she and others in the newsroom felt “blindsided.”

“Over the course of the past few months, when we have had all-staff meetings with organization leadership, we in the newsroom were not unaware of the financial situation at GBH, but I’m shocked that management has decided to make cuts from the newsroom and not explore other options,” said Mathews.

Goldberg’s announcement made no mention of changes at any of the organization’s flagship programming including FRONTLINE, NOVA, Antiques Roadshow or Masterpiece. GBH is also the largest producer of children’s programs for public broadcasting.

The cuts came on the heels of the announced resignation of the General Manager of GBH News Pam Johnston stepping down at the end of the month.

This story was reported by Liz Neisloss and edited by Steve Junker from WCAI and Cori Princell from NENC. No members of GBH News’ leadership team were involved in the editing of this story, nor did they review it before it was published.

Copyright 2024 WGBH Radio

Liz Neisloss