KEEP YOUR COMMENTS COMING…

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We received quite a few reader comments about the recent round of layoffs at iHeart. We continuously update our original story and we read all of your comments (and respond to some). Let’s keep the discussion alive.

iHeart announced its division leaders on Wednesday which you can read from their press release HERE.

Here’s our continuously updated coverage of the layoffs taking place around the country:
1/16/2020
St. Louis:
Maurice Devoe and others were let go according to The Post Dispatch 
Milwaukee:
The Journal Sentinel reports Mike Lucas is out
Toledo
: The Toledo Blade reports 9 people lost their jobs in that market.
Baton Rouge: Four were let go according to WAFB
Erie: YourErie.com says there were many layoffs in that small market.
Poughkeepsie: WPDH’s John Rutigliano is out according to the local paper
Quad Cities: Longtime WOC host Jim Fisher out according to Quad-City Times 
Kileen/Waco: “The Babysitter” out after 34 years according to the Killeen Herald
1/15/2020
Chicago:
Robert Feder reports three on-air hosts were affected.
Indianapolis
: The Indianapolis Business Journal reported about WNDE-AM.
Des Moines: KCCI TV reported on several layoffs at KXnO
Syracue & Rochester: Syracuse.com reports on jobs lost in those two markets.
Louisville: The Courier Journal reports about hosts let go in the Louisville market
Lexington: Kentucky.com reports Leland Conway was dismissed as host on WLAP.
Cincinnati: Cincinnati.com reports on the iHeart cluster in that market.
Eau Claire: WQOW reports the morning show in that market will be less one person.
Grand Rapids: Several hosts were let go in Grand Rapids accordint to Channel 8.
Sports: Jason Barrett is keeping a running list of sports hosts who’ve been sacked.

(By Ed Ryan) In a January 2020 Radio Ink cover story, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman said one of his two major goals was transforming the company “by stressing technology to make this company look and operate as a company that started in this era, instead of 50 years ago.” This week the company took another big step in that direction.

In addition to restructuring divisions and management responsibilities (see next story), it certainly appears the company will also be relying more on automation and syndicated talent. The industry was certainly buzzing Tuesday trying to come up with the actual number of on-air jobs that will be lost as a result of iHeart’s latest announcement. Social media posts from all over the country made it clear many markets were affected and most of the jobs lost are coming from the programming side. The iHeart editorial team is also revamping the company’s websites which, many noticed, had local talent no longer listed on the sites.

Unlike previous years when a lot of radio jobs were cut, this time around it seemed those losing their job were taking it in stride, hardly in shock that they were let go. Perhaps this has become routine to those on the air and they are always aware that they too might hear the words, “we’ve decided to go in another direction.”

As radio turns 100 years old in 2020, it is far from what it once was when the airwaves were filled with local voices and artists tried to sneak into the studio to get their record played. Everyone is glued to their mobile device, artists release songs on YouTube or Spotify, and former local radio hosts are turning more and more to podcasting to try to keep their shows alive and local listeners with them. Radio has to compete for ad dollars with technology behemoths Facebook and Google, which means they have to also claw their way into the programmatic buying game. Ah yes, even more automation.

iHeart says it is helping as many former employees as possible by providing outplacement assistance. If you have lost your position at any radio station and we can help, in any way, please reach out to us by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

This story will be continuously updated

55 COMMENTS

  1. If you were making wise business decisions you would beg Leland Conway to return or pray that Mandy Connell returned. I think you are trying to perform a conservative cleansing. It will never work. Whoever that is talking in his slot now is a LOAD!! It sounds like being in a barnyard listening to some old country dude talking to his cows and knows they are not listening.

  2. PLEASE inform all employees working for WHAS radio to pronounce Louisville. Ky properly. It is prounced “LOUIE-VILLE” not louaville not Lewisville not louiville not looouvel. Our city was named after Louis XVI of France. Also tell Dwight G and Tony V. to quit putting themselves in first place when they are including others in sentences. Even their commercials are presented “Me and my wife”… Where were those men when grammar was taught when they were in school? Also crap is a terrible word and should not be used to describe things they disagree with. Even though he was not a favorite I would gladly welcome Leland doing the broadcast. Dave Jennings is fine but he does not have control over Dwight and Tony. I rarely tune to whas @ 9:00 am since it is so childish. They sound like two 12 years old kids talking about bathroom humor and thinking it is so funny. Move them to their old time slot.

  3. Maybe it’s just me, but Mark Wallengren really stood out as a personality where other radio voices seem benign. I used to listen to him in the mornings before Ellen K replaced him and was very disappointed to loose his presence. Sometimes he seemed a little saccharine or coy, but he made a mark! Liked him as Santa in the month of December! Listening to him afternoons wasn’t a good time for me and I rarely did, but today I processed him gone with another radio voice in his time zone who didn’t say she was filling in for Mark so I looked it up. Don’t pay much attention to other DJs but Mark made me feel good, rising above the other more generic broadcasters. I think the exit of Mark Wallengren is a loss to KOST and a mistake.

  4. I’m shutting my iHeart radio off I listen to Jim Fisher every single day 5 days a week. He’s been on this radio station for 40 years and you just turned off his microphone and made him leave the building. You have no respect for your listeners so I have no respect for you. You came into my living room he came into my car he was a good friend of me just by listening to him everyday you people took that away from me and didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye. iHeartRadio you want to be in the radio business?? YOU HAVE A LOT TO LERN!!!!!!!!!.. and in a lot of ways. You’ve just cut your own damn throat financially you just don’t know it yet!!!!!!. Wait till your next rating evaluation comes out. Your advertising will be a HELL of a lot less valuable!!!!. You might have saved some money by laying off all these good people but you’re going to pay for it in the end.!!!!!!!!!

  5. Since Leland left there’s nothing for me at IHeart till noon when Rush comes on and I can get him on other stations so they have lost one listener.

  6. I really miss Leland Conway keeping us up on local and state government. Now it is just insane conversation for 3 hours. I’ve tuned out. Waiting for Rush at noon.

  7. IMO, the way Clear Channel handled these lay-offs, was pretty crappy! I’d bet if any employee was choosing the leave WHAS, they would expect a two week notice, something these folks never received! BTW, Leland Conway should feel pretty good, since it seems to have taken 2 people to replace him. I’ve tuned out.

  8. This hurts me so much.

    I grew up with Kost 103.5 and to see both Mark and Ted gone…my heart is shattered. Thanks a lot “iHeart’Fake’-io”…

    I swear, if they let Karren Sharp go, I’ll end up never listening to kost again…

  9. Can someone please tell me why and how can a media company such as yourself show no respect for a long-time radio host personality Mark Wallengren that has touched and graced our cars, home, offices and living rooms for years with his amazing talk and entertainment. He is kind, truthful, loyal and most of all respects America and as you can see he respects you. He has not said one unkind word, so please give him the same respect.
    We are struggling as a country and Iheart just proved we are a nation that doesn’t care. No dignity is given to him. He was talented and got the people to listen and enjoy life for he was real.
    I have never ever stepped in to express my opinion on a matter like this but I can’t help but say something. Respect starts with respect.
    All you needed to do was allow him to say good-bye to his thousands and thousands of listeners him the dignity in leaving.

    sincerely,
    Taraiakia Swanson

  10. Mark Wallengren at KOST was much more than a DJ. He indentified with most of his listeners and made the evening commute enjoyable. I have phoned in many times. Now it will be boring and if the station wants to go to streaming why listen.I like my traffic updates. I want personality in my DJs.

    • Other DJs ARE boring and benign, no offense. Mark was more. He had a personality and identity. He was a kind of friend. Learning today he is gone has me feeling a little empty…

  11. This is very similar to what happened to the newspaper business a decade ago as publishers started to clear out their newsrooms. In the long run it wasn’t good for the publications or their readers. iHeart Radio seems to be going down that very same path.

  12. I was walked out of the building 4 years ago after 24 years. I was devastated at the time, but in hindsight, it was the best thing they could’ve done for me. Radio won’t ever be what it used to be. It’s cookie cutter mentality; no individual market input, no live personalities, everything is voice-tracked. I listen to Sirius because I can get whatever format I want and don’t have to suffer through all the commercial spots. I feel for all those who have been affected by this last round of “dislocation” (seriously, dislocation?). Best of luck to all of you.

  13. Los Angeles – KOST 103.5 lost two of their long term DJs. Mark Wallengren and Ted Zigenbush. Won’t listen to KOST anymore. I had stopped listening to it in the morning when Ellen K took over the morning show. I’ll start listening to KBIG MYFM 104.3 instead

    • I’ve discovered Ellen K is a good, professional broadcaster. The hype was that people were very excited to see her come to the station, but I would rather listen to Mark Wallengren.

    • Yes, it is odd. Two thing: I think we all love Radio Ink, and appreciate the hard work of the Radio Ink staff… clearly they love the business and believe in the people in the business, as is evidenced by RI offering to help those many individuals recently fired. Second, Ed Ryan pointed out that RI selected Bob Pittman as Radio Executive of the Year In November, before this all happened.
      But today, Pittman being recognized as Radio Executive of the Year certainly seems cruel and ironic, and an affront to the many professionals who were fired by Pittman and iHeart. He may blame others for doing it, but he is the individual leading the company.
      It would be a fantastic gesture of support to thousands of radio professionals, and to the industry, if Radio Ink now revokes that award they gave to Pittman. …Similar to how many are saying that MLB should revoke the Houston Astros World Championship. Only this is worse, much worse.
      As Pittman collects his $14 million, his actions now demonstrate that he does not think that local talent, local personalities, and localism are necessary in radio anymore. He thinks that an app (the iHeart app) and voice-track automation is the future. His rhetoric may deny this, but his actions clearly prove it. Heck, iHeart isn’t even putting the stations’ personalities on the stations’ web sites!!!! That says it all.
      Seriously, Radio Ink should revolk the award. Letting that award to Mr. Pittman stand, is just not at all appropriate now and is a slap in the face to the beliefs, values, and professionalism of 50 years of radio.
      Thank you.

  14. Whoever was behind the cuts did so irresponsibly, heard how one station fired most/all the staff and didnt even have anyone to run the board for a broadcast that evening having to use an inexperienced sales person. That tells me this is just someone slashing names without any regard to what it does to the station and its needs for actual operation

  15. The crisis is not with radio’s product, its audiences. 292 million Americans listen to the radio
    each week in a nation of some 330 million people.
    Radio’s financial problem is that its customers, brick and mortar retail advertisers, are experiencing major challenges from the massive growth of online shopping and thus are moving much of their budgets to digital ad platforms. Remember John Wannamaker’s famous
    comment that half of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half.
    Now, with digital ads, they think they do.

  16. Listening to the radio in my market, you can definitely hear how the advertising has hit a very big slump. As you listen for any length of time, you can count on one hand the amount of different clients they have in their rotation during their prime day parts. It’s nothing anymore to hear the same commercial twice in one stop-set. So, as that goes, there goes a stations revenue, and local radio hosts and producers will go by the wayside. Locally, we have about four local “untouchables” and that’s all. And even for them, the clock might be ticking. There’s no shortage of satellite programming and now podcasts that the stations can run instead.

  17. FCC created this situation when they killed the 7-7-7 rule. End result cookie cutter stations….little relevance to the listener. And too many commercials. No one has the guts to say “raise the rates and cut the number of spots in an hour”. Yet corporations wonder where listeners went. A hard drive does not make a radio station. Air talent does. Problem is most corporate managers and program directors are in the business for what they can make in the short term….they are not in it for the long haul.

  18. You can say anything you want about the health of radio as an industry, but this single announcement speaks louder than all those words. Technology and audience trends have gotten ahead of the radio industry, something that I and others have seen coming for the past 20 years. This is not the last such announcement from IHM and others. I hate to say this, but “local” isn’t as important as you think it is. Being differentiating and being valuable are two different things. And the average voice on the air situated in a box down the street is not more valuable than the best voices in the nation, such as they are.

    We are headed towards a future where there are relatively few radio formats that matter to audiences and advertisers. They will feature mostly an identical playlist across markets. They will feature the same talents between the songs or the same talk talents instead of the songs. They will be much more like K-LOVE – with one stream of content and hundreds of distribution channels.

    You watch and see. It’s coming.

    Because the only future for radio is one where costs are slashed faster than revenues diminish.

    Advertisers will move on no matter what. What other choice do they have?

    It’s not the radio you grew up with. But it’s the radio that a generation of leaders have made inevitable.

  19. What truly surprises me, is the number of veteran hosts (like myself) that got axed. I’m over 40 and have been in radio for over 25 years, only to lose my job like this. My numbers were solid for my daypart. In my market, there are younger air personalities that remained on the air in my cluster. Wondering if anyone will step forward and file a complaint against #iHeartMedia with the #EEOC in this matter. I’m curious about what the criteria was for selection was for those of us that were “dislocated”. It all seems a bit suspect to me. #iHeartMedia may be thinking that the future is youth and THAT my friends, is discrimination.

  20. I just said the same thing out loud! If Radio is competing with Satellite radio, then why make radio so “impersonal”? Hell, I’ll even listen to Sirus because I won’t have to hear commercials!

  21. IFART Radio is the same company that owns Rush Limbaugh – just extended his multi-multi-million dollar contract. They need a way to pay for it.

  22. Well what I dont like is the words noheart is useing in this pathetic move. This isnt a savvy move for the future. Why cant that just say what it is? A money grab to extend stock price and a bow down to the lenders. Do the actually belive the BS in there press release?
    The rally cry for last 10 years is be local and relevant, yesterday we saw there truth flowed by arrogant quotas.
    It time to sweep the leg on no heart, theres good talent avalable, make the move that’s best for your market and let’s finish the job and eliminate these clowns.
    The time is now

  23. Even as the equity(?) holders – at least on the radio side – are squeezing the company dry, they will still end up with an empty sack.
    Should be easy pickin’s for someone who knows how to run a radio station.
    What’s that?
    Oh.
    Never mind.

  24. As I read through these comments, I see a lot of the same attacks on Pittman & Bressler, that they’re to blame for all this, and they should be replaced. What all this ignores is they don’t run the company any more. Yes their names are in the press releases and they have the titles. But after bankruptcy, the lenders got over 97% equity in the company. This is the first act by the new owners to get their money back. When the bankruptcy was announced, a lot of people wrote here how these lenders had been shafted, and saw their investment wiped out. That wasn’t true. The lenders got control of the company. This is what it looks like when lenders run a company. The next step is they’ll sell their stakes to someone else. That’s what this is all about.

    • So what are the names of these people that you allege are now running iHeart? … Bressler is CFO, Pittman is CEO. And if there is anything well known about Pittman, it is that his massive ego would never allow him to be there as CEO, unless he is CEO and calling the shots. Period.
      So your defense that there are other people actually running the company… no. If that was the case, they’d fire Pittman and Bressler and replace them with their own people.

      • Replace them with their own people who would then fire hundreds of employees and face criticism? Why would they do that when they can keep the same people and make THEM do the dirty work. Then the new people come in with no negative baggage. If you don’t believe me, do a search on the iHeart bankruptcy settlement. It will tell you who the lenders are and how much equity they have. The people with the money call the shots, not the people with the titles.

    • Clear Channel had to sue two banks to finance the original deal to go private. Over the years since, those banks–as well as what was now IHeart–sold off that debt to a myriad of bond funds, hedge funds and the like. Coming after the debt was crammed down in Chapter 11, those lenders ended up with stock in the new IHeart…the largest shareholder was PIMCO, a bond fund, with about 7%. And most of those shares were non-voting shares, you had to have a certain % to elect the new board of directors–which ended up being a bunch of Pittman pals with no broadcast experience. Hence John Malone’s strategy–he has about 5%, and he is buying shares to get control of the board.
      The bottom line is this IS Pittman and Bresler’s bloodbath. If Malone’s proposals survives antitrust scrutiny, expect the empire to be broken up to create a much smaller but profitable radio group.

      • Good point Tom. This IS Pittman behind this, 100%. The fairy tale that “The Big A” is spouting… that the new stockholders “made Pittmsn do it” is an insult to readers’ intelligence. Then again, based on thr history of The Big A’s comments, you have to think that The Big A IS Bob Pittman.
        Most disconcerting is that this Pittman/iHeart behavior to decimate the local radio stations of proven LOCAL personalities – the DNA of successful radio stations – is the same behavior that Lew Dickey undertook at Cumulus. Look at that turned out…Dickey literally destroyed legendary radio stations. Sad.

        • You need an enemy to focus on, and Pittman serves your purpose. But you refuse to see the bigger picture. Pittman has been there for ten years. He could have done this a long time ago. Ask yourself one question: Why now? What changed in the last 6 months?

          • There’s no hate. Your word Bob. Just stating facts.
            And what has “changed” to use your word, is now there is total desperation. 7 billion dollars in remaining debt will do that.
            When CEO’s like Bob Pittman have to resort to laying off thousands of long time company personnel, sadly there are never good outcomes. Usually the CEO also winds up fired (can you say Lew Dickey?) and the company fades away.

          • Who does the company owe $7 billion? Shouldn’t those people get their money? As I said the lenders now own the company. Pittman works for them. Look it up. It’s the truth. And while you’re looking that up, do a search on John Malone.

  25. IHeart no longer shows the station personalities on the station’s web site. IHesrt continues to lay off local personalities and replace them with voice tracking. So Bob Pittman by his actions is saying that local radio personalities are not necessary.
    If an FM radio station is nothing but music and some pre-recorded generic audio content, how is that any different than the audio streaming apps? (Other than the meaningless, not local voice-tracking snippets). And why would anyone choose the FM station over an app, when they have to suffer through 8 or 10 or 12 commercials in a row on the FM station?
    Pittman’s actions – not his words, but his actions – clearly demonstrate that he has zero intention of investing money in the local stations, that he has zero confidence in the stations’ long-term viability. He may say differently, but his actions prove that, indisputably.
    And this is Radio Ink’s Person of the Year??!!

      • Ed – Regarding your naming of Mr. Pittman as Radio Exec of the Year. I understand the timing thing you point out, but I feel now with the advantage of hindsight, if RI is standing up for the industry, would it be time to study just how many personnel cuts Mr. Pittman has been responsible for during his tenure? I’m not talking about the individual terminations within all iheart operations, just the announced major cuts company-wide that have been implemented under his watch. I would guess the numbers would be staggering. How do those numbers relate to other entities in the industry? Other industries? Is there really any bench strength left to grow tomorrow’s talent? How much local is still available on iheart frequencies?

        As far as the cuts, automation has been part of the radio landscape for decades and should be in many instances (I was a jock but also a station manager, I empathize with many of the arguments presented). But people have to be part of the equation at some point if this industry is to have any future at all.

        For RI to continue to spotlight this individual while he slashes careers seems to celebrate this behavior.

    • I just said the same thing out loud! If Radio is competing with Satellite radio, then why make radio so “impersonal”? Hell, I’ll even listen to Sirus because I won’t have to hear commercials!

  26. You cannot continue doing business in the red forever! The consequences will finally catch up with you. Unfortunately, their mistakes are costing jobs. From bankruptcy to poor management and everything in between, it has lead to this. Their latest action probably will not save them as well. It may, at best, bought them a little more time for their swan song.

  27. If Pittman and Bressler had taken a 50% cut on their salaries, then no one would have been let go. $10,000,00 would have saved those jobs and they would have still made $6,000,000 and $4,000,000 respectively. That is where the problem is….

  28. Joke here, which I-Hurt management does not get, apparently, is that advertising revenue increasingly comes from local direct. If your local presence is reduced to a sign on an office suite and a receptionist (part-time), time to sell out.

    • Less people = Lower Rate Cards. The advertisers will snatch up that time. I’m sure the company has that all weighed out and is already prepared with similar scripts, provided to sales execs from corporate for when they make those calls to concerned advertisers.

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