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Behind the microphone at TWiT
Renee Silverman

Leo Laporte announces layoffs at TWiT

· By · 3.8 minutes to read

Leo Laporte started This Week In Tech episode 957 with an announcement.

I do want to address something that is a sad state of affairs here at TWiT.

As some of you may know - and some of you may not know - we have been going through financial difficulties all year. It’s been very hard. All podcasting has been going through it. Radio got about 100 years, podcasting got a decade - t hat’s about it. Now, there’s so many podcasts, but more to the point, advertisers who loved podcasting briefly have decided that YouTube influencers are much better - or something, I don’t know what’s happening - but, audiences have dwindled as the number of podcasts have grown (though our audience has held pretty well, we’re not worried about that) but also advertising dollars and they’ve significantly dwindled.

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YouTube advertising sales grew almost a trillion dollars last year, and that’s because that money came from TV, from radio, from magazine, from podcasts, from every other medium: because advertisers said: “Hey, it would be really nice if we knew more about the people seeing these ads.” And podcasting can’t do that. It’s not the way podcasting works. Spotify can do it because you have to listen in the Spotify app. So a lot of the ad dollars have dwindled.

Lisa and I sat down last week and did the math for next year based on ad sales to date. And our projection is to lose about $1.1 million next year. Now, I am not Jeff Bezos. I am not Elon Musk. We can’t lose a million dollars because we don’t have it. So we had to make cuts.

This week, we laid off three of our the people we love dearly, and it hurt terribly to do so. Jason Howell, who produced this show, of course, was the host of All about Android, Tech News Weekly, and had been with TWiT for 13 years since he came over from CNET and Buzz Out Loud with Tom Merritt. And we had to lay him off.

We laid off Ant Pruitt from This Week in Google, who is a gentle giant and a sweetheart and a beautiful man, after five years here.

And we laid off an editor because, you know, canceling shows doesn’t save money unless we also lay off the staff that produce those shows. So Victor Bognot, who’s name you may not know: he produced our promos, and edited a number of shows, you probably heard his name. He also produced some of our shows behind the scenes.

All three understood. It hurt me and it hurt them. And I know especially this time of year. But that’s when it happens because when the calendar year ends that’s when we start to see what’s going to happen next year. We wanted to make sure we could we could lay them off with severance and take care of them. If we had waited till next year, it might not have been the case. So all of them are going to do fine. We’re going to help them all as best we can. And they have use of our offices as long as they need it and so forth. So we’ve left on good terms.

I know this will be a bit of a shock for some of you listening, and it’s certainly a loss for us.

There will be some show cancellations as well, though that news will come out next week.

All I can say is, you know, we’re doing the best we can to sell ads. That does not make up the $1.1mn loss by any means. In order to survive, we’re also going to need to increase the club. We’d like to double the size of the club so that we can be financially solvent.

So if you’re not yet a club member and you don’t like what’s happening but you want to support us going forward - we’d like to keep doing these shows, I could retire, I don’t have to do them, but I want to keep doing them - it will take some cooperation from you.

If you’re not a member of Club TWiT, please join. It’s seven bucks a month. But it really does make a difference. And we give you some nice benefits.

It’s been a tough year for podcasting. Stitcher went out of business. Gimlet went out of business. WNYC pulled back from podcasting. It’s too bad because I think this is a great medium, and I know people who listen to podcasts love it. So it’s a little bit of a puzzlement to me.

I was working in radio for my whole life, left the radio show last year because it was going through the same thing. Radio is not exactly doing well. But I’d hoped that podcasting would.

Anyway, enough of that; but I did want to give you that news. Benito Gonzalez, who is a wonderful guy, has been TD’ing the show for some time. He’s going to take over as producer.

Tough times in the world of podcasting, but I’d like to keep going. I really would. And I think we can, because we have a very dedicated audience. Thank you for your support.

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