Former LAist CEOs received more than $500,000 packages while 21 staffers faced job cuts

Staff and laid-off journalists at LAist, a prominent news station of National Public Radio (NPR), expressed their outrage on Wednesday over the recent layoffs that resulted in a 12% reduction in jobs at the organization. This comes amidst revelations that former CEOs were earning over $500,000 per year as recently as 2021.

According to 2021 tax records, former SCPR President and CEO Bill Davis received approximately $583,356 in total compensation while retired, despite being listed as working “0.00” hours per week. Jon McTaggart, another former executive listed as the former CEO of APMG (American Public Media Group), earned a total of $558,767.00 for part-time work.

Former LAist CEOs received more than $500,000 packages while 21 staffers faced job cuts

The layoffs, which eliminated 21 of the organization’s 175 positions, were particularly painful for the staff, especially after their union had questioned the wisdom behind such high executive compensation. Among those laid off were prominent journalists like podcaster Erick Galindo.

Davis served as President and CEO of SCPR, which owns and operates the LAist website, LAist Studios, and local radio station, from 2001 to 2019. When CEO Herb Scannell took over the company, Davis shifted to President Emeritus from February 2019 to January 2022, and continued to earn over $500,000 a year until 2022.

The layoffs were cited as a result of a shortage of “a couple of million dollars” in advertising, according to Scannell. However, the tax filings suggest that the company’s advertising only generated $1.03 million in 2021, while donations and grants totaled $41 million.

The layoffs have sparked outrage among the staff, with the LAist SAG-AFTRA unit expressing that the cuts do “not make sense.” The union’s statement read, “For months, we have heard about how the company was able to manage our budget shortfall. In our last pledge drive, we hit our benchmark. Our company says the ‘restructuring’ will help us become more ‘cross-platform’ and be more of a digital newsroom — yet valuable colleagues in podcasts and digital teams are being laid off.”

LAist, formerly known as KPCC, is the largest NPR station in southern California, according to Nielsen ratings. It averages a weekly listenership of 600,000, while LAist.com currently averages 1.2 million monthly page views, according to SCPR records.

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