Emmis Lays Off 32 Employees


They were company wide and amount to about $7.5 million in cuts across the company and 3% of the Emmis workforce. Emmis’ revenue was down 5% in September, October, and November, typically some of the best revenue-performing months of the year for radio.

Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said it was a challenging quarter for Emmis, and it was a challenging quarter for the radio industry. Smulyan highlighted Los Angeles as particularly challenging. That’s the market iHeartMedia launched a Hip Hop competitor and hired Emmis’ long-time morning man Big Boy, and it’s having a serious impact on revenue.

Smulyan also said it was difficult not renewing the contract of New York market manager Deon Levingston. Indianapolis markert manager Charlie Morgan will cover the New York market until the company decides what to do.


  1. Hmmm … 32 salaries making 7.5 million gives an average salary of those removed of over $234,000. Looks like they’re at least trimming the fat at the top, instead of cutting all the front-line workers. Better than slashing on-air staff, automating more (because THAT wins an audience!), and adding more management.

  2. Any former Emmis Sales management employees who are practitioners of the Center for Sales Strategy (CSS) process, one of my sister stations has an immediate opening for a GSM position. We highly value CSS and are looking for the right “fit”. I can assure your resume and cover letter gets to the right person and potentially help you make a speedy transition to utilize your Talent-Focused Management credentials. My email is [email protected]
    Federated Media | Federated Digital Solutions | Federated Entertainment

  3. Rome isn’t burning- but it will be soon enough. Sometime in the future we’re going to have another recession and combined with the new dashboards and Millennials penchant for getting what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, many radio operators are going to take a death blow. This should be obvious to anyone. Netflix and Hulu won the video wars, Pandora and Spotify have won in audio.

  4. Bob: “but radio’ s leadership” refuses to acknowledge this huge flaw in their product”

    The fact is, they are trying to convince everyone that they are “the bomb” at what they do, to pump up their own egos and salaries. I have to say that radio is dead. Evidence of this is to look at how many kids listen… 6+, 12+, etc. They choose to stream something that they can control. I am seeing fewer and fewer younger audiences, meaning college age and younger, actively tuning in radio. Not even info on radio is for younger demos, as they prove that online info is king.

    Our industry is dead, but execs and other radio peeps are not even acknowledging it. People cannot control stations, as in songs, spot amounts (they hate the 7 minute stopsets, 12 in satellite shows), the type of info they get, etc. The younger demos want control. With radio, and soon TV, they have no control. Ask Spotify and Netflix. They can at least control those.

    But with the above said… that flaw still exists, no matter who (what exec) is blowing smoke up someone’s butt. Its about ego and personal income.

  5. Might be a good time to take down the “Who has the best studios” article? Radio INK is famous for pumping up the industry as people are being fired. Knock it off with the “Industry is in great shape” BS… not fooling anyone, and looks clue-less and rude.

    • You’re probably right. But, for all the bad things that happen in this industry there is another side to the industry, and that is there are a lot of great broadcasters and great companies who ARE doing things well. If you read most of my editorials you’ll not here me saying the industry is in great shape. Instead you’ll hear me calling for the industry to pay attention to the changes happening in the world of advertising and digital so that we, too, can grow as an industry. We should not give up and die. Too many good people to keep employed. We need to adapt, look reality in the face and find ways to be better.

      • I give you a ton of credit for the response. At some point, Many of us find value in calling the pig ugly… not because we (radio veterans) are pessimists, but things usually get exposed, then get addressed, then get better… of course, they need to be exposed first. I’d recommend a feature called Radio’s Biggest Failures. For two reasons this would be beneficial: 1) Let’s recognize the people who are actually allowing their team to really swing the bat… the folks who aren’t scared of edgy, non-pragmatic answers 2) Let’s take a look at what simply doesn’t work… what shows either never catch traction, what promotions are a waste of time, what strategies are simply just failures. Sure, some people will want to continue dressing up the pig… but the real value is in learning, and doing so authentically. I’m sure having nice studios are great, but it’s just not relevant in today’s cut throat media world. Some of the biggest podcasts are done in airport terminals, at a bar or in a car. A nice studio is like a pat on the back… nice to have, but doesn’t have anything to do with winning, leadership etc. Also, it’s great to see how the Auto business is on a boom, but when that happens as radio continues to struggle, the message is “Auto thrives as Radio dives”… maybe Auto doesn’t need radio?! Can Radio survive without Auto? How did Radio screw up Auto? Failure is not a bad word, and when confronted, it will lead to more success than continuing to paint the pig.

        • Agreed,
          Clearly you understand the value in failure and learning from it, I love the concept and you are the perfect person to write it. I’ll look forward to the article and will publish it (assuming it doesn’t suck).

          Regarding studios. Hey, most of us would love them and if you’re working in one every day a nice new studio is great for self esteem, not to mention looking great and sexy to an advertiser. But, content is all that matters and you’re correct that one can use their iphone and an app and do a killer podcast with big audiences. I know some of those guys and they all WISH they could have nice studios, and if and when they get rich, plan to build them. Many want to be like us. Lets not discount that most of the digital players in radio are doing it because they want to take radio’s audiences and revenues and be like us. (There are exceptions of course.)

          Regarding auto business, when I discovered the problem about three years ago I addressed it to the industry head on and lots lots of friends who thought I was wrong. Then I launched the DASH conference with partner Fred Jacobs. In year one the auto people were so taken back by our argument they decided to keep radio in the cars. I am hopeful this continues and we continue to fight that battle. (next radio ink my article is about my wonderful experience with apple car play.)

          No heads in the sand here and my role is to help others see what is coming so they can make decisions. Beyond that its out of my control. But in spite of all the people you or I might find fault with, there are some amazingly great broadcasters in business today worth celebrating.

  6. Rome is burning. Big radio operators like Emmis and Clear Channel/iheart, in addition to other reasons, are having huge problems because they refuse to acknowledge the huge churn on local advertisers, and that new local,advertisers are not coming on board. Why? Local advertisers are getting smart; they are realizing that radio advertising is ineffective when stations continue to run 6, 8, 10 commercials in a row. Listeners are not sticking around and are not tolerating such long breaks, but radio’ s leadership” refuses to acknowledge this huge flaw in their product.

    • Rome isn’t burning…. though clearly there are some giant issues with a lot of giant radio companies. Bob, you are ABSOLUTELY right that radio MUST acknowledge the huge churn based on driving listeners away with long spot sets. We also have to understand that a lot of change is happening in the world, which some in radio refuse to acknowledge or invest in. BUT… there actually are many bright spots where things are actually being done very well, where stations are finding new and interesting ways to be fresh and different. I do think its hard for some of the buy operators to move in different directions, though some actually are investing heavily in some new ways of doing things while trying to dig their way out of debt (which, may not be possible). I’d love to see someone chime in with specifics about “listeners are not sticking around” with some evidence one way or the other. Clearly this is a challenging time to be in a legacy media, though there seems to be some strong evidence that radio erosion is minimal compared to most legacy media.


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