The largest radio conglomerate in the country, iHeartMedia, initiated a round of mass layoffs this week, cutting enough people that one former on-air host described Tuesday as “one of the worst days in on-air radio history.” The layoffs were concentrated in small and medium markets, where staffs had already been reduced, striking another major blow to local radio.
Some employees began to suspect that cuts were coming last week. “There was a very urgent, emergency meeting called in New York City for market presidents and higher level local management,” says one former iHeartMedia employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize a severance package. (Many declined to comment, citing the same reason.) “We heard a lot of different rumors, including talk about automating certain markets depending on the revenue [they generated].”
For other iHeartMedia employees, the first sign of trouble came early Tuesday morning, when the company sent employees an email announcing a “new organizational structure.” The memo, obtained by Rolling Stone, seemed plucked partly from a corporate culture parody like Office Space. It opened with chest-puffing (“we are the #1 audio company in America”) and then slathered on numbing layers of business jargon (new institutions include “the Integrated Revenue Strategies Group” and “Excellence Centers”).