WPSU cancels programs and reduces staff in response to fiscal pressure

June 24, 2009

University Park, Pa. — Following a thorough examination of the staffing and organizational structure, WPSU has made the difficult decision to cancel two television programs and eliminate eight staff positions today. “Scholastic Scrimmage,” a quiz show featuring the best and brightest from central Pennsylvania high schools and “Common Ground Lobby Talks,” a community-oriented show featuring Penn State faculty and audience participation, will be canceled.

“Obviously we are very disappointed that we must take this action,” said Ted Krichels, associate vice president for Penn State Outreach and general manager of WPSU. “Given the current economic climate, we concluded that we must significantly reduce expenses without sacrificing the ability to create and distribute compelling content."

“Every budget line item and service has been examined for efficiencies resulting in a reorganization, new processes, and substantial reductions in expenses. The reduction of staff is a last, but now necessary, resort,” added Krichels. The staff of WPSU, impacted by these actions, will be offered a variety of career services to assist them in finding new employment.

On Feb. 4, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell sent a proposed budget to the state House and Senate that recommends eliminating all funding for the eight public television stations in Pennsylvania. The proposed budget would eliminate all funding for station operations ($7.9 million). The potential funding loss for WPSU totals about $850,000.

“While the potential loss of state funding poses the most severe and immediate challenge we must also confront the potential reduction of other revenue sources,” said Krichels. Those include community support and production revenue.

“We intend to do everything we can to make sure that WPSU remains a strong and viable public service media organization that continues to be a vital part of people’s lives as we strengthen our ability to generate revenue through the production and distribution of compelling and useful content,” said Krichels.

“Scholastic Scrimmage” was a fast-paced, question-and-answer game featuring students from 90 central Pennsylvania high schools in three 30-team divisions. In each match, two teams competed to showcase their knowledge, recall, and reflexes as they attempted to advance to their divisional championship. “Scholastic Scrimmage” recently completed its 6th season.

“Common Ground Lobby Talks” was a series that invited the public to participate in a forum with Penn State faculty and special guests. Taped in the lobby of the WPSU studios, the show welcomed audience participation in the form of questions and comments. Among the issues covered in its 4th season were autism, gender equity in education, the Marcellus Shale, toxic chemicals in consumer products, universal health care, and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 25, 2009