Yet more corporate radio group cuts

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The wave of cuts being made by corporate radio continue to evolve resulting in more station lay-offs & cuts to corporate executives & their pay.  Today’s Radio Insight reports that Entercom has become the latest radio operator to announce a series of layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts for employees. The company has announced cuts of on-air staff at stations in Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee & Miami.  CEO David Field announced the lay-offs & reduction in pay today in a letter to staff & management.  Beyond the people that will be exiting or furloughed of whose numbers have not been disclosed, the company is suspending its stock dividends and 401K matching and implementing salary reductions in the second quarter between 10 and 20 percent for any employees with a salary above $50,000 per year. Field himself will take a 30% cut to his income.  A majority of the cuts were also focused on the promotions and local digital departments within the company. Locally, Smokey Rivers who has been PD at soft AC “94.1 The Sound KSWD” has been terminated.

The Beasley Media Group is also downsizing as announced on Tuesday.  Chief Communications Officer Heidi Raphael confirmed in an emailed statement to Paul McLane at RadioWorld “Our company, like other broadcasters and our clients, is being directly impacted by the recent unanticipated economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like so many others in our industry, we must adjust to the new and unforeseeable circumstances we now face.”  67 positions have been eliminated, including furloughed 18 full-time employees and several part-timers & engineering staff.  The company also reduced salaries for full-time employees by 10% for the second quarter, unless prevented by contractual obligations. CEO Caroline Beasley is taking a 20% reduction. It reduced the hours for full-time hourly employees to 36 hours.  Raphael told “Radio World” “We anticipate bringing back all furloughed employees at the end of the second quarter or sooner if circumstances permit.” 

Meanwhile, north of the “dotted line” we’ve learned that BC’s first station casualty due to the COVID-19 induced economic downturn is Kelowna’s soft AC “Soft 103.9” CKOO.  Kelowna is the third largest city in the province with a population of 220,000.  It is located in the southern interior part of BC on Okanagan Lake in the dry belt that extends down into central Wash.  through Wenatchee, Ellensburg, Yakima & the Tri-Cities. It relies on summer tourism to it’s lakes & wineries & in winter, skiing & back-country snowmobiling. The city has 1 AM station & 10 FM stations (6 commercial, 4 public/non-commercial).  CKOO signed on in 2017 & was just turning the corner on profitability when the bottom fell out of advertising in the region & elsewhere.  The station is signing off for good this Friday, all staff have been let go & owner Glacier Media is turning in the license to Canada’s broadcast regulator, the CRTC.  Just last year, CKOO-FM was sold by original “indie” owner Avenue Radio to Glacier Media for $2 million.  Glacier Media is primarily a newspaper publisher in a number of Canadian cities with few broadcasting holdings.

 

Some in the broadcasting industry have been speculating that the days of talent in both radio & TV working from home signals a “new normal”.  There’s speculation that once the pandemic subsides,  the ability & skills to host on air from one’s home will become part of the expectations corporate broadcasters will demand of it’s on air personnel.  Some truly professional looking home backdrops have been created by many TV newscast hosts as recently shown in Scott Jones’ FTVLive.  This includes TV as well as radio hosts working at home studios & TV personnel using the truly remarkable cameras built into current hand-held digital devices.   Always on the look-out for ways to cut operations to the bone, broadcasters may have a game plan to reduce usage of corporate station studios & offload this expectation of technology investment onto it’s long suffering air staff.  Of course, this also means an investment in IT services & increased engineering in an industry that attempts to function with as few employees as possible. “Work from home” may become a permanent part of the broadcasting industry at a not too distant future. 

  

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Mike Cherry

Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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