Entercom, iHeartMedia announce layoffs and furloughs

Thanks to coronavirus pandemic, tough times for radio just got together

Two of radio’s biggest chains announce layoffs and furloughs as the economy continues to collapse amid the coronavirus epidemic infecting the globe with Entercom and iHeartMedia announcing a reduction of their workforce, suspension of 401k contributions and pay cuts.

Entercom announced Thursday morning numerous layoffs across its clusters nationwide, including here in Chicago. Notable names being cut include WUSN-FM PD Kenny Jay and WSCR-AM host Julie DiCaro.

Entercom’s Milwaukee cluster has also laid off WSSP-AM host Chuck Freimund after an eleven-year run.

Connor Knight announced on Twitter today was his last day at WSCR.

Others released from Entercom Chicago include WUSN afternoon host Kasper and B96 afternoon host Eric Tyler. Promotions people from the company were also laid off.

The cuts weren’t limited to the Midwest, of course. In Buffalo, WGR’s Paul Hamilton and WKSE-FM’s DJ Anthony were furloughed. Other Entercom markets experiencing layoffs (so far) include Detroit, Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia. I’m certain there’s more included.

For what’s it’s worth, CEO David Field is taking a 30 percent salary reduction.

Meanwhile, iHeartMedia has furloughed more than thirty employees locally, according to Robert Feder. This comes on the heels of several key exces forgoing pay for the rest of the year, including CEO Bob Pittman. This comes on the heels of earlier layoffs this year.

Suburban radio owner Alpha Media has also laid off personnel, including two-decade veteran Carol McGowan, who was let go from Joliet’s WCCQ-FM.

This come as advertising revenue is drying up as clients are cutting spending since stay-at-home orders have closed businesses in over 80 percent of the country, affecting all of the top ten TV and radio markets. As a result, more than six million people have filed for unemployment in the month of March, a new record.

So far, television has been spared from major cuts and furloughs as homes-using-television usage has surged. But like radio, advertising spending has slowed as major retailers and others have sat out. A greater concern is what happens in the future if the pandemic continues and ends up not only wiping out the rest of the NBA and NHL seasons, but the NFL season as well. Live sports is a huge money maker for the broadcast networks and cable sports networks, as it is the only form of programming not affected by streaming.

Another concern is if the pandemic continues is the 2020-21 television season and whether it could start on time. The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered television production around the globe, including all scripted programming. If the pandemic lingers into summer – and there’s a decent chance it could – many programs could not return until late or even well into 2021. Pilots aren’t able to shoot and there is a possibility prime-time programming could go into reruns soon if the pandemic doesn’t ease up. Some reality programming has also been affected, as The Bachelorette and the next season of Survivor were forced to suspend production. Already, the Canadian version of Big Brother had to suspend production due to coronavirus.

When you add all of this up, it could cost the major broadcast networks more than $2 billion in lost revenues. Any layoffs and furloughs could occur in the fourth quarter if the football and fall television seasons are affected.

While radio and newspapers are the ones baring the brunt of these job losses so far in the media industry, remember…we’re only getting started.

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