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January 14, 2020 6:20 pm  #1


iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

It doesn't affect stations in Buffalo - yet - but iHeart Radio, the largest owner of stations in North America, has just had its own Black Tuesday. Dozens of on-air personalities have been cut and there may be more to come. But it's the way it was done that I find disturbing.

Imagine coming into work and finding this (from an article on Syracuse.com)

"...a memo sent to staff informed them that the revamp will lead to “employee dislocation," including layoffs. It’s unclear how many jobs will be cut, but every iHeartRadio website has removed the personal blogs and bios for its on-air personalities at more than 850 radio stations."

Imagine coming into work, not being told anything, but finding your name has been taken off your station's website. What a way to start a week!

So what's replacing all these woebegone workers? Artificial Intelligence. Which, as we all know, is what everybody listens to the radio to hear. 

"iHeartMedia, formerly known as Clear Channel, said in a statement it would consolidate some of its work into “Centers of Excellence,” using AI to “provide a better experience for listeners and business partners and a more efficient process for all of its employees.”

"Better experience?" "Centers of Excellence?"  And my new favourite phrase, "employee dislocation."

No wonder people hate huge corporations.

Bell is affiliated with iHeartMedia here, but it shouldn't affect any jobs in Canada. But another sad day for the industry overall.

 

January 15, 2020 9:59 am  #2


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

RadioActive wrote:

...No wonder people hate huge corporations.

Careful, RA. Certain worshippers at the corporate tower will be hinting that you've gone "commie". https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons3/whistling.png



 

 

January 15, 2020 12:45 pm  #3


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

When you take the "humanity" (a living being) out of radio, you lose that personal connection with the listener. I'm a radio dinosaur, when social media connections supersede the landline and face-to-face to interact with listeners becomes management's mantra, its time to sign off. For most with well over a quarter C in the biz, it was a good ride and I pine for the days when I could project and hit the post. Classic hit stations are too limited in their playlists and the announcers are too far removed from the music. Nothing locally that really grabs me. I want to remain loyal to terrestrial however after a "Sirius" test, I must admit satellite radio satisfies my listening desires. So where am I going with this or is it a ramblin' man spewing. No, it's a cry out to management/ownership to program to those in their senior years. Those who valued radio and the enjoyment and memories they received. Seniors are becoming the largest segment of the population and have the $ to support advertisers (are your listening Sales). But as management has told me, it's an interesting idea. Oh well. As a true Trawna jock once said, "come get me mother".

 

January 15, 2020 3:12 pm  #4


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

As a DXer who hears thousands of stations, OTA, on an annual basis, I'd say a mere handful are compelling enough to makes me hope the signal won't fade out and be replaced with another mere new potential catch for my logbook. Sometimes it's the host, sometimes an offbeat selection of music, sometimes both. To wit, last week I had CFNY's signal edged out of top spot on 102.1 and replaced by WLEW in Bad Axe Michigan. WLEW's weekend blues program had this female singer's unbelievably soulful cover of CCR's Who'll stop the rain (she succeeded in part by slowing it down). Normally I'd want to clear a secondary station out of the way to see what lurks even further underneath, but instead I was disappointed when WLEW faded to barely audible and I missed any identification of the singer. I'd heard enough of the host earlier on that I knew the show would be more than worth listening to even if I wasn't a blues afficionado. I would agree - human is the way forward. Most potential listeners will look for something that captures their interest, and if that something isn't a conventional radio station they won't care or even recognize the difference.

Last edited by Saul (January 15, 2020 3:13 pm)

 

January 15, 2020 6:33 pm  #5


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

Rolling Stone has taken up this story and it shows the great divide between talent and money. Guess which one wins. It's not unprecedented when a chain makes cuts, but in this case, it's pretty hard to justify laying off at least 1,000 people across the country - including some of the #1 stations in some markets. 

They're all being replaced by either automation or syndication, thanks to recent ownership rule changes that permit a lot less need for local. It's gradually becoming the norm - and in my usually addled mind, it's ruining what made radio special.

From the linked article:

“Any smaller to medium market in the country lost, in all likelihood, most, if not all, of their on-air staff,” the former on-air personality says. “As far as the music stations go, there’s not a single local talent [left]. I heard they’re gonna go with their national music logs across the board.” “I think the majority of these stations will be centrally programmed,” agrees the other former employee.  

Daryl Ledyard worked on the morning show for over a decade at WBBS, a country outlet which he says was Number One in the Syracuse area year after year for two decades. “To take the morning show and all the local DJs off the radio in the Number One station, that says a lot,” Ledyard notes. “[iHeartMedia is] very much convinced that the local aspect of radio is no longer important.”
 
 
The linked story is quite a condemnation of iHeart's methods. And it's also a fascinating look at where other ownership groups could go next. I know the regs are different in Canada but I can't help but wonder if Rogers and Bell here are taking notice. 

‘The Culling Has Begun’: Inside the iHeartMedia Layoffs

     Thread Starter
 

January 15, 2020 7:29 pm  #6


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

RadioActive wrote:

but I can't help but wonder if Rogers and Bell here are taking notice. 

I'd be more concerned with Stingray's view on all of this.
Immediately after buying Newcap's radio stations they are the ones that bent over backwards to declare that the radio and a blue screen on your TV are NOT the same thing. 

However, here's hoping iheartmedia (USA) has done nothing to change their mind.

 

Last edited by Radiowiz (January 15, 2020 7:31 pm)


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.

 
 

January 15, 2020 7:51 pm  #7


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

On second thought, isn't "iHeart" an oxymoron? You can't have heart and gut the lifeblood of a station. This move was done by the smart people who have brains. But then again as the Tin Man said: "brains do not make one happy and happiness is the best thing in the world."

 

January 15, 2020 9:48 pm  #8


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

Employee dislocation in Detroit, to make certain stations more attractive in the audio marketplace --

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/entertainment/2020/01/15/iheartradio-layoffs-hit-metro-detroit-stations-wkqi-wllz/4480474002/


Following this is like reading "The Hunger Games."

 

January 15, 2020 10:45 pm  #9


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

Let's remember that iHeart also filed for bankruptcy back in March 2018 with about $20 billion in debt.  They emerged from bankruptcy protection a year ago and had reduced debt to about $6 billion. All of this had nothing to do with iHeart in Canada which owns no stations  here but has a licensing agreement with Bell Media. At the time when Bell announced the agreement, I thought it was odd they would partner at all with iHeart which had no profile in Canada, and even now doesn't  have a strong image.

Cumulus Media, another big owner of commercial radio stations in the US also filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2017 and emerged in June of 2018 reducing debt load.

It is a shame that iHeart is taking away the one thing that local radio still has, and that is being local. There is no point trying to compete with the steaming/satellite services if you are an OTA operation because you can't. And doing away with local content in smaller and medium markets is a real big mistake since in those markets there is usually a close connection between the audience and the station. Areas that are somewhat isolated,  the local station is more of a service than just a form of entertainment.

Can it happen here? It has already to some extent, but US radio has always had big national/regional commercial radio networks, much more national syndicated programming, and generally more out of market programming than in Canada. Our ownership and broadcast groups are set up differently than south of the border. And of course the CRTC and FCC tend to differ in some areas what they deem to be important.

Good point about Stingray, they have done a lot of "streamlining" out west with network morning shows broadcast on 4 or 5 stations in Alberta and BC, so time will tell how far this will go on here.  For now anyway, looks like radio in Canada regardless of the many changes, is still in fairly good shape. 

Last edited by paterson1 (January 15, 2020 10:46 pm)

 

January 15, 2020 11:30 pm  #10


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

From the article in the Detroit News that Tom Sanders linked to:

"Corvino said the layoffs were reflective of the company's new identity as a media and technology company rather than a radio entity."  

Man if that doesn't just say everything you need to know about how this owner thinks and operates. Local content is the only thing that differentiates over-the-air radio from Sirius or Internet stations, all of whom can play the same music or content.

But my local weather or news, or the big event taking place in my hometown can never be covered by someone in L.A. or New York, thousands of miles away, while it's happening. 

If this is the future of broadcast radio, I'm sorry to say it might not have one. 

iHeart Radio? This company seems more like iHate Radio. 

And in case you think this isn't a big deal, check out how many sites a random search of the topic turned up in the news in various affected markets in the last 24 hours alone. 

Madison, Wisconsin

Boston

Erie

Indianapolis

Rochester

Albany

Cleveland

Louisville

Providence

Syracuse 

St. Louis

Moline, Illinois

Des Moines, Iowa

Tampa, Florida

Huntsville, Alabama

Wichita

Cape Cod

Cincinnati

Killeen, Texas

Just to name a few.

     Thread Starter
 

January 16, 2020 1:49 pm  #11


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

I am so tired of large corporations (not just impacting radio) swooping in to buy up all potential competition; then they close down much of what they bought because the business model is "not sustainable". The question then begs, why in hell did you buy it? The answer is easy...monoploy.

All of this is so anti-competitive, monopolistic and "iHeartless" that one wonders where it ends.

Yes, it's affecting radio and TV, but the plunder-trend was obvious decades ago when Home Depot (buy-bye friendly, local hardware store), Lowes (buh-bye Rona), Costco (buh-bye small grocers), etc. Service? We don't need no stickin' service. It's all about providing a super-efficient conduit for dumping Chinese plastic on North America.
 

 

January 16, 2020 3:34 pm  #12


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

Well, isn't this an interesting development. Just days after mass layoffs at iHeart Radio stations across the U.S., one of its outlets in Des Moines, Iowa has hired back all six of those "dislocated," after massive complaints from listeners.

According to the linked article, the entire morning team, two sports talk show hosts and the P.D. have all returned to work after "thousands" of its audience members created a backlash against the mass firings. (I would seriously question that number, but hey, anything's possible.) 

The G.M. had to get iHeart's permission for the reversal of fortune, and somewhat surprisingly, they granted it. Not only that, but the G.M. of KXNO says he will go on air and apologize to the audience.

We've all heard the promise from outraged callers that "I'll never listen to your station again" after a prominent personality is let go. But this is the first time I can ever remember so many fired people were hired back all at once due to audience complaints. 

KXNO Reverses Course, Re-Hires Fired Sports Talk Radio Hosts  

     Thread Starter
 

January 16, 2020 6:21 pm  #13


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

The plunder trend started with Walmart. Goodbye Main Street, goodbye everything. Radio lasted as long as it did because only until recently has the technology that makes radio plunder possible been perfected.

 

January 16, 2020 7:55 pm  #14


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

KXNO-AM (sports) is the number 13 station in Des Moines with a 2.3 share. iHearts WHO-AM (talk/news) is number 1 in the market with 8.9.   Was WHO-AM affected by any layoffs or were they left alone? It could be that some major advertisers that buy time on both stations threatened to pull ads, or possibly some of the local sports talk shows had some contracts with advertisers that would impact the news talk station. Sadly, it was likely about money or even a threatened lawsuit, more than the listeners. When this was pointed out to iHeart head office in Texas, they likely delayed the layoffs or back tracked.

I am sure that iHeart has been quietly laying off people for months now, leading up to yesterdays big announcement. There will probably be some other markets that won't go through with all of the changes.  Mass adjustments like this never go 100% as planned.  And iHeart also indicated yesterday that more layoffs could be coming up in the months ahead, so they are signalling they aren't finished yet.

 

January 16, 2020 8:26 pm  #15


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

In tandem with this announcement, they said KXNO would also be getting an FM simulcast on what is currently an Alt-Rock station. I'm assuming the staff of that station, if there were any, have been let go.

 

January 16, 2020 8:28 pm  #16


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

paterson1 wrote:

It could be that some major advertisers that buy time on both stations threatened to pull ads, or possibly some of the local sports talk shows had some contracts with advertisers that would impact the news talk station. Sadly, it was likely about money or even a threatened lawsuit, more than the listeners. When this was pointed out to iHeart head office in Texas, they likely delayed the layoffs or back tracked.

This is the most likely explanation. It's never listener revolt - that's expected.

 

January 16, 2020 9:05 pm  #17


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

I don't think this is what happened in the case of the Des Moines station, but when Rogers did one of their mass layoffs in the City TV newsroom a few years ago, they fired too many people and were forced to hire at least two of them back.

One was a veteran news producer. The other was a reporter, who's still there. Her name: Pam Seatle. 

     Thread Starter
 

January 20, 2020 5:33 pm  #18


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

A local California columnist weighed in on the iHeart cuts this week, even echoing the iHate Radio reference I made earlier in this thread. After lamenting the loss of some local personalities, his final few paragraphs are worth reading. 

"As an industry, radio may be down, but not out. And the cuts by iHeart are actually going to help revive it. Consider: the revenue model brought on by consolidation as listed above has been a failure, pure and simple; the moves by iHeart will do nothing but accelerate the trend.

By failing, iHeart is opening a window for people who actually know how to run radio to buy up stations on the cheap … once iHeart is finally gone once and for all.


And make no mistake — I believe competitors Cumulus and Entercom will suffer the same fate, as they will be making the same type of cuts being made by iHeart as soon as they think no one is watching.

Next week: how to actually run a station to attract listeners and succeed. Don’t expect anyone from iHeart management to read it.

They don’t care."

Hundreds losing Radio Jobs

     Thread Starter
 

January 20, 2020 11:40 pm  #19


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

That was an interesting article. Sounds like the big radio conglomerates over paid for a lot of stations when radio was starting to slide years ago and are now trying to unload to generate some cash. iHeart has been selling stations and still has 855 in the US. The writer is correct, there will be some radio stations come up  at fire sale prices.  But any new owner will have their work cut out for them making some profitable and part of the community again. 

Three of the 4 biggest radio owners in the US -iHeart, Cumulus Media and Townsquare Media have all filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy over the past 10 years. 

Can't really see anything like this happening in Canada, in terms of the bankruptcies, but at some point I am sure Bell, even Stingray may sell off some stations. Sort of surprised that Bell hasn't sold some of the the many stations they acquired from CHUM and Astral, but so far that hasn't happened, in fact they have even picked up a few more.

If any of the Corus radio group stations sell, assuming they are still for sale, could be an opportunity for  smaller companies to expand into a few larger markets. Even though they are a major player in Western Canada, I would love to see Pattison Radio pick up a few stations in Ontario. Pattison stations sound great and sound local and they would shake things up a little, which is always a good thing.

 

January 21, 2020 5:31 pm  #20


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

One trend I'm seeing in the US is stations closing and licences being acquired by mega-organizations such as the one that owns K-Love and Air One (Christian CHR pop music). So a rock station like 107.3 in Utica NY signs off and is effectively replaced by a decidedly non-local K-Love outlet (no doubt catching some listeners off-guard when their AC-DC faves get the plug pulled). Central Michigan University's CMU public broadcaster is also apparently expanding a slight bit and acquiring a few stations.

 

January 21, 2020 10:27 pm  #21


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

"Employee Dislocation"
So that's what they call it now. It doesn't make it better.


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

January 21, 2020 10:35 pm  #22


Re: iHeart Radio U.S. Goes On "Employee Dislocation" Firing Spree

RadioActive wrote:

It doesn't affect stations in Buffalo - yet - but iHeart Radio, the largest owner of stations in North America, has just had its own Black Tuesday. Dozens of on-air personalities have been cut and there may be more to come. But it's the way it was done that I find disturbing.

Imagine coming into work and finding this (from an article on Syracuse.com)

"...a memo sent to staff informed them that the revamp will lead to “employee dislocation," including layoffs. It’s unclear how many jobs will be cut, but every iHeartRadio website has removed the personal blogs and bios for its on-air personalities at more than 850 radio stations."

Imagine coming into work, not being told anything, but finding your name has been taken off your station's website. What a way to start a week!

So what's replacing all these woebegone workers? Artificial Intelligence. Which, as we all know, is what everybody listens to the radio to hear. 

"iHeartMedia, formerly known as Clear Channel, said in a statement it would consolidate some of its work into “Centers of Excellence,” using AI to “provide a better experience for listeners and business partners and a more efficient process for all of its employees.”

"Better experience?" "Centers of Excellence?"  And my new favourite phrase, "employee dislocation."

No wonder people hate huge corporations.

Bell is affiliated with iHeartMedia here, but it shouldn't affect any jobs in Canada. But another sad day for the industry overall.

This quote from the article says it all.

“Program directors at almost every company barely choose the music anymore,” he says. “It’s not ’cause they don’t want to — they’re told not to. Their influence has gotten less and less. You’ve gotten to the point where there’s no such thing as a disc jockey. There’s no such thing as a music director.” 
 


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram