One of the biggest players on the U.S. radio scene is iHeartMedia, which currently has 855 stations (more than anyone else). That company filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 and has been doing some restructuring since then, and the latest round of restructuring includes significant job cuts at stations across the country, including many people in sports. Here’s more on that from Jem Aswad of Variety:
iHeartMedia today announced a “new organizational structure” and “technology transformation” as it modernizes the company, and as often happens during such moves, layoffs are taking place. According to Country Aircheck and All Access, there have been multiple layoffs in the country and other sectors of the largest radio network in the U.S., including top roles at WPOC/Baltimore, KAJA and KRPT/San Antonio, KASE and KVET Austin, WSIX/Nashville and others.
The company addressed both moves, saying the number of layoffs are “relatively small,” in a statement provided to Variety. “We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in,” it reads. “This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness and our efficiency with all our major constituencies.
“During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function,” it continues. “But the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500. That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.”
As per All Access, the pages listing on-air talent at most stations have been removed for the time being, making it difficult to see who’s still there. But All Access has a running list of layoffs across these stations, and Jason Barrett of Barrett Sports Media has one focusing on sports talent laid off, which covers markets from Des Moines to Jacksonville. And it sounds like these are going to be pretty significant cuts in many markets; Sarah Ladd of the Louisville Courier-Journal has a piece on what that looks like for local sports station 790 KRD (a broadcast partner for the Cincinnati Bengals and Louisville Cardinals, and affiliated with Fox Sports Radio).
Several Louisville personalities have announced their shows have been canceled. Those include “Ramsey and Rutherford,” Paul Rogers, Amy Nic and Leland Conway.
Paul Rogers, the University of Louisville play-by-play announcer, said he was told Tuesday that “my position was eliminated and my services were no longer needed.”
“When I left yesterday, I had no idea I wouldn’t be going back,” he said.
Rogers, 68, was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014 and said of losing his gig of 47 years, “I’ve done mornings for so long, I’ve sort of been thinking about the time when I wouldn’t have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. That part is appealing. The loss of income was not, but sleeping in certainly is attractive. Hopefully things will settle down and I’ll find a little something.”
Rogers had been doing a morning show there since the 1980s. He’ll continue as the Louisville play-by-play announcer, but that morning show is now gone. And the Ramsey and Rutherford afternoon show (featuring Card Chronicle founder Mike Rutherford and John Ramsey) is gone despite being the highest-rated show in the market. Ramsey told Ladd that news caught them by surprise Tuesday morning, something Rutherford also illustrated in a tweet about how what wound up being their final show was live from a Hooters:
As it turns out, yesterday was my final radio show with 790.
If it had to end, I'm glad it ended at a Hooters in Jeffersonville.
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) January 14, 2020
Those are only a few of the layoffs here in just one of the affected markets, and it sounds like similar stories are playing out at plenty of iHeartMedia stations across the country. So it seems like there will be some big changes at a lot of sports radio stations nationwide as a result of this. And this also means there will be a lot of radio people looking for work, which adds to the numerous layoffs we’ve seen across many media companies in the past few years. It’s not a great time to be in any sort of media business right now, and these layoffs just add to that.