National Public Radio (NPR) said today that it's laying off 7 percent of its staff, the first time it's downsizing in 12 years, after experiencing sharp declines in funding, especially from corporate sponsors.

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PHILADELPHIA — National Public Radio (NPR) said today that it’s laying off 7 percent of its staff, the first time it’s downsizing in 12 years, after experiencing sharp declines in funding, especially from corporate sponsors.

NPR said the layoffs affect 64 full-time staff, half in news and programming. The rest are in station services, engineering, information technology, communications, research, digital media and administration. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Another 21 job vacancies will not be filled. NPR also cut travel and discretionary expenses across the organization.

NPR is also canceling two shows, “Day to Day” and “News and Notes,” which have not received the audience traction, station carriage and corporate sponsorship that could make the shows self-sustaining.

“This is happening in response to the current economic downturn,” said Mitch Praver, chief operating officer of NPR, in an interview with the Associated Press.

He said NPR is projecting a $23 million shortfall for fiscal 2009 — an 8 percent decline — to $145 million. Corporate sponsorships are projected to fall by about a third.

In July, NPR said it projected a “relatively manageable” $2 million shortfall for 2009.

NPR’s board has authorized the tapping of operating reserves by a maximum of 30 percent in fiscal 2009, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 20, 2009.

Employees were told today about the layoffs, which take effect in January for many workers.

Staff for the two canceled shows will leave in March, once the shows are off the air. The shows’ staff is in Culver City, Calif., in the Los Angeles area. Most of the rest of the affected employees will come from NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The last time NPR laid off workers was in 1996, and before that it was 1983.

NPR said 26.4 million people listen to its programs weekly and eight million people visit its Web site every month.