The social distancing restrictions to try and limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus have led to a lot of economic impacts, including in the media sector. With advertising affected by what’s going on at other businesses, many media companies are going into heavy cost-cutting mode and announcing reduced wages, furloughs and layoffs. One of those is Entercom, which has 235 radio stations (the second-largest number in the U.S.) across 48 markets. Lance Venta of Radio Insight obtained an internal memo from Entercom CEO David Field about the company’s actions: here are some key quotes from that.
Thank you for your resilience, dedication and fortitude as we manage through the extraordinarily challenging and disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all doing our best to ensure that our loved ones remain safe and healthy while working tirelessly to serve our listeners, customers, and communities. I am deeply appreciative of everything you are doing to keep us moving forward under these difficult conditions. We are fortunate to work in an industry that plays such an important role in our country at a time of crisis, providing a critically important and trusted local voice for news and information as well as entertainment, companionship and respite during these uncertain times.
Unfortunately, the severity of the situation necessitates us making significant cost reductions in order to cope with the realities at hand. Our nation is facing unprecedented disruption that has shut down countless businesses and entire industries, including many of our customers. This is having a very large impact on advertising revenues. We must take hard but necessary actions to ensure that we endure the crisis and emerge as a strong, healthy and competitive company.
I am deeply saddened that we need to make these painful moves at this time, but they are necessary under the circumstances. We are doing everything in our power to minimize the number of layoffs through shared sacrifice across the organization, but we will still need to eliminate or furlough a significant number of positions.
It’s unclear exactly how many people will be laid off as a result of this, but it sounds like it’s going to be quite a few. And there have already been several notable names impacted by this. One is long-time Milwaukee sports radio host Chuck Freimund, who had been at 105.7 The Fan there for over a decade, most recently teaming with Bart Winkler on mornings.
Well it happened!!!!After 11 years,Sportsradio 105.7 FM The Fan/1250 AM let me go 5 minutes after my show today.. I had a great run ,and to be honest,not surprised this happened..The company ,Entercom ,sent out an email this morning that cuts were happening.. and it happened
— Chuck Freimund (@ChuckFreimund) April 2, 2020
Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score in Chicago also tweeted that she had been let go:
Welp, my position at @670TheScore has been eliminated. Another women in sports in Chicago bites the dust.
— Julie DiCaro is writing a book (@JulieDiCaro) April 2, 2020
That also spells the end of The Julie and Maggie Show, a weekend show DiCaro hosted with Maggie Hendricks:
So as some of you may have guessed from @JulieDiCaro's tweet, the @JulieMaggieShow won't be on the air this Saturday, or any upcoming Saturdays. I am so sad I won't get to hang with Julie or the amazing producers I was so privileged to work with every weekend.
— Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) April 2, 2020
Connor McKnight and Rick Camp were also let go from The Score:
These are tough and uncertain times. Moreso for others than myself, that’s for sure.
Today’s show was my last on The Score. As a result of the pandemic, plans had to be altered and my position was eliminated.
— Connor McKnight (@C1McKnight) April 2, 2020
My 8+ year tenure at the Score came to an end today. I was lucky to work with and learn from so many great people.
I’m proud I was able to work at the station that got me into the medium but it doesn’t make the reality any less painful that I had a job I loved & now I don’t.
— Rick Camp (@RickCCamp) April 2, 2020
At 790 The Ticket in Miami, Zach Duarte and Trevor Murray are among those laid off:
Among those in local radio let go today in mass Entercom cuts: Zack Duarte, 790's evening host, and a good guy. Very tough time economically in media business and virtually every other business.
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 2, 2020
The TL;DR version: I'm done at 790 pic.twitter.com/GAifIKBN4J
— Trevor Murray (@TrevorMurray) March 30, 2020
And at Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket, Ryan Wooley has been laid off:
I have some unfortunate news that I need to share…. pic.twitter.com/k3MiKcLlel
— Ryan Wooley (@WooleyMammoth85) April 3, 2020
And there will undoubtedly be more names that emerge. But there are also impacts even for those who haven’t been fully let go. As Adam Jacobson of Radio + Television Business Report writes, Entercom is also implementing 10 to 20 percent paycuts for those who make more than $50,000 annually (CEO Field will take a 30 percent paycut), and they’ve eliminated Q1 and Q2 bonuses and their 401(k) match program. Jacobson also reported Wednesday that Entercom has drawn $146.5 million under the revolver portion of its credit agreement over the last few weeks; it’s notable that they’re conducting these layoffs and paycuts even with that cash in hand. And it’s certainly a dark day for many in sports radio.