National Public Radio will fire 30 to 34 employes and cancel "The Sunday Show" after May 1.

The moves, approved by the board of directors Friday and disclosed yesterday, were part of a $2.8 million cut intended to balance NPR's 1983 budget, which originally stood at $26.3 million.

Among the casualties: veteran music commentator Fred Callan and "Jazz Alive" producer Tim Owens.

"You've got to elevate those sights a little lower," said NPR President Frank Mankiewicz, quoting Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. "No department was spared. If people are very attentive, they'll notice less on-the-spot coverage. We will have less non-Washington coverage, we'll be doing fewer remotes, there will be less travel, less 'events coverage.' But we're not closing the doors or cutting out substantial number of hours. We're going to continue to provide the daily services that we have."

NPR has failed to meet projections for its underwriting programs and there have been delays in several business ventures while NPR waits for approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

"Jazz Alive" will continue production through the rest of the fiscal year "on tape we've already collected, but it's very much in question for next year," said John Bos, director of NPR's performance programs. Like some of the "Sunday Show" segments, it was "an expense vehicle in terms of engineering: 'bring it back alive' has a very big cost factor, so it doesn't look good."

There is some concern among the arts staff that the NPR cuts, which appear to affect arts and music programming most severely, reflect a shift toward increasing news and public affairs programming.

Mankiewicz says that "at the beginning, NPR was formed around such program vehicle as 'All Things Considered' and 'Morning Edition.' Then the arts programming began to catch up. 'The Sunday Show' was an evolution from a proposal made several years earlier that originally advocated a daily presence for arts and music programming the same way we had news programming. The irony is that's what we'll move to in July," when NPR will add a weekday arts and music service similar in format to "All Things Considered." "It's a hollow victory for those who have to leave, but we'll be moving to that."

Pointing out that there have been similar cutbacks at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Broadcasting Service and many of the larger individual stations in the PBS/NPR network, Mankiewicz said that "the remainder of 1983 and 1984 are going to be very testing years for us, more than we had thought."

"The Sunday Show," which had undergone major revisions in September, was, according to Mankiewicz, "a casualty, but I have great hopes we will restore it one day."

Bos pointed out that his authorization for fiscal 1983 had been $1.9 million, but that of the $943,000 left for the second half of this fiscal year, $420,000 has just been cut.

"You can't handle that cut in a traditional way, so we're moving faster to a programming service concept that was in evolution with 'The Sunday Show,' a Monday-Friday live-assembled two-hour concert strip with many of the same features that NPR Plus and the newscasts provide the stations. What we learned to do in that show will be transferred to this daily two-hour show--a mix of music and features in a more accessible, flexible way.