(By Ed Ryan) COVID-19 has now infected 785,000 people globally, claiming 37,686 lives. In the United States 3,000 people have died, 900 of them in New York. CNBC is reporting that the unemployment rate in the United States could top 30%. Commerce has come to a screeching halt, every industry is being impacted. Radio is no different.
With no clear end to the crisis in sight, advertisers are understandably worried about how to keep employees, pay their bills, and still be in business when this all ends. Many have no reason to advertise if they were forced to close and with all of their potential customers told to stay home. Radio relies on those advertising dollars to survive.
Several radio CEO’s made major moves yesterday to keep their companies running as smoothly as possible during this national crisis.
At iHeartMedia, CEO Bob Pittman will not be taking a salary for the remainder of 2020. He will also give up any incentive bonuses. Senior managers at iHeart, including CFO Rich Bressler, will have their pay cut from 30% to 70% through the end of 2020.
In addition to the senior level cuts, iHeart is also furloughing a number of employees for 90 days. Those employees are related to iHeart’s live events business which has shut down due to the virus. The company made it clear that these are not layoffs and those that are being furloughed will be hired back as soon as possible. iHeart is also temporarily suspending its 401K match.
At Townsquare, 65 employees have been let go, 26 of them from the corporate office. CEO Bill Wilson and others from corporate have all volunteered to take a 10% pay cut. And, Townsquare has temporarily suspended its 401K match. Unless the crisis improves quickly, additional changes may be coming to Townsquare.
JVC Broadcasting CEO John Caracciolo announced to his team that he also had to temporarily furlough a number of employees with hopes of bringing them all back when the crisis ends. Caracciolo also terminated his own employment as paid CEO. He will voluntarily run the company during this crisis.