Rhode Island NPR affiliate WRNI, which officially named education reporter Elisabeth Harrison its local host of NPR's Morning Edition news show, won't hire a new education reporter to replace her for the foreseeable future.
That means WRNI's complement of five reporters will be reduced to four.
The Morning Edition slot opened up when Boston's WGBH hired away veteran host Robert Seay in September. Harrison has been a regular fill-in since then and has contributed spot education reporting along the way. Joe O'Connor, general manager of WRNI, says he expects Harrison to keep up the spot reporting now that she is the official Morning Edition host.
But he says he is uncomfortable hiring a new, full-time reporter amid economic uncertainty. The station's fundraising has been uneven: a September drive came in 30 percent below goal, before the station rebounded in November and December, exceeding goals.
That uneasy fluctuation is not the only fiscal concern: WRNI is dependent on grant money to underwrite some of its reporting staff - grant money that will probably taper off in time.
Still, despite the uncertainty, the station has made significant progress on the whole in recent years: moving from glorified repeater station for Boston's NPR station WBUR to plucky, independent news outlet with big ambitions.