Santa Monica public radio station KCRW will part ways with more than a dozen staffers and end the popular podcast “Greater LA.”
KCRW-FM (89.9) host Steve Chiotakis, who created “Greater LA,” announced on X (formerly Twitter) that the final episode of his daily news program would air Thursday, as “management is ending it after nearly 5 years.”
“I am so grateful for the time we had, the wonderful people who helped put it together, and all the ears that listened,” he wrote. “Thank you for everything!”
Chiotakis’ announcement comes as KCRW prepares to reduce its workforce through voluntary departures, including prominent broadcasters “Morning Becomes Eclectic” co-host Anthony Valadez and “All Things Considered” host Janaya Williams, The Times has confirmed. More than a dozen other staff members also have accepted buyout packages offered by the station and most of those employees are set to depart this month.
KCRW chief content officer Arnie Seipel addressed the end of “Greater LA” in a Wednesday staff memo reviewed by The Times. For years, “Greater LA” has looked at national news stories — from rent hikes to homelessness to workers’ rights — through a Los Angeles lens, but has struggled to secure a “sustainable audience on broadcast or digital platforms,” the memo said.
Underlining the need for local journalism, Seipel said “Greater LA” reporters’ work will still be available on digital platforms, newsletters and other programming with larger audiences, including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” Seipel added that KCRW will continue to invest in its Report LA and USC Luminary fellowships.
“Greater LA” is the only program being cut, KCRW Station President Jennifer Ferro confirmed Wednesday.
With “Greater LA” ending and Williams leaving her post, Chiotakis is set to return as a local host of “All Things Considered.”
“I’m incredibly sad about the end, but honored by so much loyalty for our little show,” Chiotakis continued on X. “And to the people who helped make it and put it together: nothing but love and admiration from me for your hard work and dedication. Thank you so much.”
In early December, KCRW said it was facing a projected $3-million budget deficit and needed to reduce its staff. Employees were offered buyout packages, and station executives have since disclosed that about 16 staff members had accepted the offers — or about 10% of the station’s workforce.
KCRW is known for its local programs — including the music show “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” Madeleine Brand’s topical “Press Play” and the weekly political series “Left, Right & Center” — along with national offerings from NPR.
Like other Los Angeles-area media outlets, the station has been reeling from a sharp reduction in film studio advertising during strikes by members of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which stretched from May until early November.
KCRW, which has an annual operating budget of about $23 million, relies on member contributions and corporate sponsorships, including studios looking to promote their projects.
Before the buyouts, KCRW employed about 155 people. Ferro previously told The Times that KCRW had offered the buyouts with the hope of avoiding layoffs. The buyouts were offered to a large group, including managers, production engineers, technical directors and content producers.
A year ago, station managers had anticipated a deficit of about $1.8 million, which it planned to cover with funds from its reserves. But as 2023 stretched on, the projected gap swelled to nearly $3 million, in large part because of the length of the strikes.
The move comes nearly four years after KCRW reduced its staff by about 24 people through buyouts.
The Santa Monica station isn’t the only local outlet that recently has been forced to shed staff.
Last summer, Pasadena-based public radio station LAist cut its staff by 10%, or 21 positions, citing a revenue shortfall, including a projected loss of studio advertising. That station’s call letters are KPCC-FM (89.3).
A budget deficit prompted the Los Angeles Times to cut more than 70 positions last June, including much of its audio production staff. The Times experienced layoffs again late last year, cutting more than a dozen additional people, among them nine Los Angeles Times Studios staff members, including two managers and an audio engineer.