LAist Cuts Over 10% of Staff Citing Decline in Hollywood Studio Advertising

Layoffs announced by Southern California Public Radio CEO Herb Scannell follow similar cuts at LA Times and NPR

SCPR President and CEO Herb Scannell
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LAist is losing over 10% of staff because of a decline in Hollywood studio advertising, Southern California Public Radio CEO Herb Scannell revealed in a surprise announcement on Tuesday.

SCPR operates the LAist website, LAist’s radio station (formerly known as KPCC), and LAist Studios, which produces LA-centric podcasts.

Staff were notified in a Zoom meeting and also received a memo about the layoffs. Other media outlets, including NPR and the Los Angeles Times, have made similar cuts recently.

Scannell said 21 of the organization’s approximately 175 positions are being eliminated, which will mostly affect administrative staff, producers and technicians.

Scannell said the cuts will allow LAist to beef up its editorial coverage, a rare trend in today’s market. “We need more reporting,” Scannell said, according to LAist’s own report. “More and more folks are getting news online. We need to figure out a way to develop [more online] loyalty.”

A number of podcasts will be cut, but “How to LA” and “LA Report” will continue, while the investigative series “Imperfect Paradise” will be expanded.

“The podcast industry has been a rollercoaster — a rollercoaster up and a rollercoaster down,” Scannell said. “Now it’s down.”

He estimated that advertising for LAist had a shortfall this year of “a couple of million dollars,” citing the ongoing WGA strike, which has put the entire industry on hold, and “a cloud of [possible] recession hanging over” the economy.

Scannell also estimated that 20% to 25% of revenue is from advertising, with the rest coming from listeners and readers, as well as philanthropic donors.