In the last few weeks, we’re seeing more and more layoffs in media as companies such as Roku and Disney are cutting employees as the economy – three years into the Covid era – continues to slow down. And radio, of course isn’t immune.
The latest local name to be cut is WGCI program director Johnnie D., whose position was eliminated after eight years. “My journey leading 107.5 WGCI at iHeartMedia was nothing less than amazing”, he told radio trade All Access. “Utilizing my Programming Strategies over the last 8 years we were able to consistently be the #1 Hip Hop and R&B Radio Station in Chicago. In addition, through my unique efforts we were able to make millions of dollars from NTR Events, create several great ratings stories, and make a positive impact in the community.”
The departure is the second from the heritage iHeartMedia-owned Hip-Hop station in recent weeks. Two months ago, longtime morning personality Kyle Santillian departed WGCI to join a nationally syndicated radio show. Alpha Media recently laid off voice talent and combined its three Hot AC stations into one suburban “superstation”, targeting women 25-54.
The moves come as Hip-Hop stations are struggling in numerous big markets, Chicago included. In the last PPM book both WGCI (tied for 18th) and competitor Power 92 (WPWX) (tied for 25th) underperformed. In New York City, all three major Hip-Hop stations ranked near the bottom. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s KRRL (Real 92.3) is outperforming heritage station KPWR, who two months ago hit its lowest share in years.
Thus it’s no surprise iHeartMedia announced Thursday it struck a linear TV deal with BET and VH1 to air the final hour of The Breakfast Club, the nationally syndicated morning show to expand its reach and hosted by DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God. Moreover, the deal enables the show to reach people where Breakfast Club doesn’t air on terrestrial radio including Chicago, where (for now) WGCI airs its own morning show despite the iHeartMedia co-ownership as Chicago is the only major market with a significant Black population not to clear it. Of course, The Breakfast Club is available to stream live or on-demand on iHeartMedia’s app and website in all areas.
“We’re thrilled to partner with iHeartMedia to bring The Breakfast Club and their unique brand of entertainment and cultural commentary to our audiences,” said BET CEO and President Scott Mills. “We recognize the show’s influence and popularity, and we are confident that the partnership will be meaningful to our viewers and to our partners. Hosts Charlamagne and DJ Envy are long time members of the BET and Paramount family, so we couldn’t be more excited to welcome The Breakfast Club home to BET.”
Paramount Global is currently entertaining offers to buy a majority stake in both BET and VH1 as suitors so far included Allen Media Group, Tyler Perry, and Hip-Hop mogul Sean Combs, whose Revolt network aired the video version of Breakfast Club until 2021.