In this week’s issue… iHeart: the aftermath – EMF adds in central MA – Leadership change at Entercom Buffalo – Retirements in Maine – Remembering WINS’ Chaseman, Philly’s Stevens, Montreal’s Lockwood

By SCOTT FYBUSH

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*There’s a lot to say about what happened last week at iHeart’s radio clusters around the country and around NERW-land – and judging by the explosive traffic to this site last week, a lot of interest in what happened, too.

We’re still trying to make sense of a confusing, disruptive, exhausting and often depressing week spent updating our list of job cuts as best we were able. And yes, we’re late getting this week’s column up.

We’ll have a special edition of NERW sometime Tuesday with full analysis of the “why” of the latest iHeart moves, and what it means to the industry (and in the meantime, you can and should read Lance Venta’s “Hotline” column from Friday with his cogent analysis). So check back here tomorrow (or, better yet, sign up on the right side of this page for our free email alerts) for that.

In the meantime, though, here’s our brief summary of the “what” as it pertained to NERW-land – and then, of course, read on for everything else that happened in what was actually a fairly busy week in all the corners of the industry that aren’t iHeart:

We don’t know, even know, just how many jobs actually went away last week. Maybe you read that there were 1,000 jobs, or even 1,200. We did, too. At best, those numbers are educated guesses. At worst, they’re completely uneducated guesses meant to spread fear through the industry. We know what we’ve been able to verify, and right now, NERW and RadioInsight have a list of over 300 confirmed names nationwide, 57 of them in NERW-land. The real number is surely higher than that, especially as it grows to include positions in engineering and sales that get cut away from the spotlight.

We do know that the cuts tended to fall into a few specific categories. If you had a job as a program director for a music format in a market outside the top 50, your job probably went away. If you were on the air in one of those markets doing middays, afternoons or evenings, your job was probably in danger, too, as iHeart seeks to centralize a lot of those stations’ operations. (Its heritage AC station in Syracuse, WYYY, was a good example – it lost all of its programming and airstaff with the exception of half its morning show, piped in from Rochester.)

We’ll talk more tomorrow about what iHeart thinks it’s doing with those stations, and why it might or might not work.

If you’d been with the company (and its predecessors) for a long time, you were in danger – but that’s true at just about any company these days. (Ask Roger Christian in the non-iHeart market of Buffalo, ousted last year from Entercom’s WTSS after decades on the job.) Deb Lawler in the morning at WBZ in Boston? The morning team of Dan and Stephanie at WCOD on Cape Cod? They were some of the more veteran names in our sad headlines last week, and each of those names of course carries a human toll with it.

And we do know that the decisions about who was staying and who was going were dictated by corporate, often coming as unwelcome surprises to local managers who had to carry out the cuts and figure out what to do next. We hear the local management at WBZ, for instance, was scrambling to fill the overnight hours left empty by Bradley Jay’s ouster – and that they didn’t expect the listener and advertiser backlash that followed. (But then WBZ is a unique outlier in the iHeart ecosystem, with literally not a single counterpart anywhere in the 854 other iHeart stations that’s running the same kind of news and talk hybrid, much less live and local 24/7.)

There’s so much more to say about what happened last week, and what’s coming next. Join us back here in this space Tuesday for more of our analysis…but first, read on for all the rest of last week’s news.

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You don't have to stop reading here! Each week's NorthEast Radio Watch is packed full of exclusive, in-depth reporting and analysis from across the nine states and five provinces we've been serving since 1994. You won't find anything like it on any free site - and you can read the rest of this week's column for just $2.99 by clicking on the "Purchase Only" link below. 

Or click here to subscribe and enjoy full access to current NERW and Tower Site of the Week columns and two decades of searchable archives -- for as little as 25 cents per day.

If you are already a member, please login to view the rest of this column. (If the site does not recognize your username, don't panic! Either your subscription has expired and we need to reactivate your account, or your username and email do not match our payment records and we need to link them. Please email Lisa,  or call her at 585-442-5411, for instructions.)

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the update, Scott. I’m anxiously awaiting to see if the consolidation and centralization will work. NBC tried it in San Diego by importing Fritz Coleman into San Diego from KNBC. (Fritz was “Jay Fredericks” on WKBW back in the 70s). He’s a great talent, but it failed because of the competitive nature of the other news-oriented stations. No doubt it’s the answer for those stations less inclined to keep a ton of shareholders happy and more likely to serve their listeners and advertisers. This new radio chapter is just beginning to be written. Let’s hope there’s no final chapter.

  2. Last week’s cuts are essentially a re-run of the first wave of consolidation that happened circa 2000 when remote voicetracking was phased in. The difference here is technology advances (including artificial intelligence) plus administrative changes (i.e. no more main studio requirement) made the cuts deeper this time. As the esteemed Mr. Mason says – let’s hope this isn’t radio’s final chapter.

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