Radio clusters in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis hit hardest; TV side spared (for now)
It was Minneapolis-based Hubbard Broadcasting’s turn to trim its workforce due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic – and Chicago was hit very hard.
Robert Feder reported Friday afternoon of a dozen cuts at Hubbard’s cluster. Among those whose jobs were eliminated include evening personality Phil Manicki and overnight host Greg Easterling from classic rock WDRV-FM (The Drive); evening personality Brian Middleton and producer/on-air personality Robb Rose from WSHE-FM; and producer Cynthia DeNicolo and social media manager Melissa Dever from WTMX’s Eric In The Morning.
Six other employees in other various roles were also eliminated.
The moves come as radio companies are being hit hard nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic as businesses were forced to close due to numerous stay-at-home orders, drying up crucial advertising revenue (though according to some listeners, the amount of commercial time on radio stations has somehow remained the same.) Entercom, Cumulus, and iHeartMedia are among those big radio chains who announced layoffs since March. Earlier this week, iHeartMedia forced any employee who earned more than $50,000 in salary to take two weeks unpaid leave – and that’s on top of the ninety-day furloughs many iHeartMedia employees were forced to take.
Chicago wasn’t the only market affected by the cuts.
In Hubbard’s flagship market of Minneapolis-St.Paul, ESPN affiliate KSTP-AM has dismantled its experimental “Skor North” format, leaving six personalities out of work. Content director Phil Mackey explained more in this letter he posted to listeners. In the interim, KSTP plans to rely more on ESPN-syndicated content though an hour of Minnesota Vikings content (where the “Skor” name originated from) from 5-6 p.m.
In St. Louis, sports talker WXOS-AM let morning personality Bernie Miklasz go, but is retaining its live and local format for most of the day. Three other on-air personalities were dropped from the St. Louis cluster, as was the program director for country station WIL-FM, Danny Montana. In all, twenty employees were let go from the cluster.
Also, eleven employees were let go from Hubbard’s Cincinnati cluster, though none were on-air staff. Cutbacks were also reported at Washington D.C.’s all-news powerhouse, WTOP-AM. Layoffs were also reported in Phoenix and Seattle. Last month, Hubbard fired Seattle-based syndicated morning host Jubal Fresh after going AWOL from his job after three months. His former Brooke and Jubal morning show – now retitled Brooke and Jeremy In The Morning – airs on WSHE.
Even though Hubbard’s radio properties were decimated by layoffs, the television side – including Minneapolis ABC affiliate KSTP and independent KSTC among others, were not affected.