UPDATE: See below for a correction/clarification to this post
As NPR announces layoffs and program cancellations to fix a $23 million budget hole (see here and here), it might be useful to consult the network's tax filings to see what the highest paid employees are/were making.
The latest IRS Form 990 on NPR's Web site gives salaries for the year ending September 30, 2007.
Then-president of NPR Kevin Klose made $465,994 from the network and $151,375 from the NPR foundation for a total of $617,369.
Kenneth Stern, who served as CEO before leaving abruptly in March of this year, made $427,057.
The 2007 return showed 15 people at NPR with the title of vice president or senior vice president. Most made between about $190,000and $260,000. A page on NPR's Web site shows 14 current vice presidents.
NPR reported its five highest paid employees were:
1. Managing Editor Barbara Rehm, $383,139
2. All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, $350,288
3. Morning Edition host Renee Montagne, $332,160
4. Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, $331,242
5. NPR afternoon programming director Richard L. Harris, $190,267.
The most eye-catching salary ever reported on an NPR tax form is probably the $505,132 paid to broadcaster Bob Edwards in FY2004, the year he was ousted as host of Morning Edition, quit, and went to XM Radio. He hosted his last NPR show in April, five months before the end of the fiscal year, so the half-million dollar salary (presumably including some kind of severance) seems to have been for just seven months work.
IRS rules require disclosure of the compensation of all officers and the top five rank-and-file employees. Since some NPR officers deferred compensation, the figures above include "benefit plan contributions" that take account of those earnings and some other benefits.
As someone who spent several summers interning in the newsroom at one of NPR's best stations (WBUR-FM in Boston), I think a lot of meagerly paid reporters and staffers at local NPR affiliates would find some of these salaries staggering. On the other hand, they are surely lower than those at commercial networks. I'm also a bit surprised at the big gap between the top three on-air talents (Siegel, Montagne, Inskeep) and the other reporters and anchors, who presumably make less than Harris.
I would think that any news story about layoffs and budget issues might want to include some of this information to give readers some data points as they digest the story.
UPDATE: The first version of this post identified the fifth most highly compensated employee at NPR (excluding officers of the company) as "science reporter Richard Harris." This was based on NPR's tax filing which described the No. 5 employee, Harris, as an on-air journalist, more specifically as a "senior host." Based on comments posted below and a phone call I just received from one of the parties involved, I now believe that the IRS filing's description of "Richard L. Harris" as "senior host" is inaccurate and that the Harris identified in the filing is actually an executive who oversees NPR's afternoon programming. So the science reporter Richard Harris should never have been mixed up in this post. Separately, some at NPR are dubious that the top five list filed with the IRS is accurate in other respects. I have an email into NPR seeking clarification on both points and will update as warranted.
UPDATE 2: An NPR spokeswoman says there is no "senior host" by the name of Richard L. Harris, contrary to the tax filing signed by NPR on July 8, 2008 and posted here. (jump to pdf page 54, statement 36)