By SCOTT FYBUSH
You’ve seen the national news by now – around the country, iHeart is reorganizing its local operations to make itself more of a nationally-programmed broadcaster, eliminating many of its remaining local broadcasters and building a smaller number of super-regional hubs that will originate voicetracks, music scheduling, traffic, billing and a lot of the other functions that once had to be handled in each local market.
We don’t know yet exactly how many iHeart broadcasters will lose their jobs as a result of today’s cuts; there are lots of rumors flying from the usual sources, of course, with outlandishly high numbers. On what happens to be our 26th anniversary of launching NERW (it was January 14, 1994 when the first “New England Radio Watcher” appeared on USENET), we remain committed to the facts, and so here we’re only going to list the cuts we can confirm. We’ll be updating this list as more news breaks; check back here (and on our content partner, RadioInsight) for ongoing updates. (iHeart hasn’t made this an easy job; as the news was breaking this morning, the company scrubbed all its local talent info off all its local station websites.)
And of course our thoughts go out to all the good broadcasters affected by these latest cuts, both directly and downstream.
*It appears there was only one job cut in Hartford/New Haven, where Wendy Steele is out of the midday shift at country WWYZ (92.5).
*In Boston, Anngelle Wood is out after a long run at WZLX (100.7), where she hosted weekends and had continued the local music show “Boston Emissions” as a podcast-only offering. Wood was also heard on weekends at WGIR-FM (101.1) up in Manchester, where we haven’t heard of any other cuts yet.
At WJMN (94.5), Mavrik (Kahleil Blair) is out of middays.
On the AM side of the building, WRKO (680) cuts yesterday included assistant PD Jarred Diglio and producer Matt McElwain.
At WBZ (1030), the overnight slot usually filled by local talker Bradley Jay was instead five hours of a repeating loop of recorded local newscasts, network features and traffic reports. If you imagined that might prompt protests, we’re hearing it indeed did – WBZ’s social media and switchboard have been lit up all day, and the “SaveWBZ1030.com” petition site has been reactivated to call for Jay, morning anchor Deb Lawler and others to be reinstated.
(Can pressure from listeners and advertisers reverse some of these decisions? It did in Des Moines, where iHeart reinstated the local sports talkers at KXNO this afternoon after an intense backlash – but then, they were reportedly all set to get snapped up by one of two sports competitors in town.)
*We’re still looking for updates from Pittsburgh, where DJ Scottro is out as creative services director and night jock at WKST (Kiss 96.1), but was apparently far from the only casualty.
*The first job loss from New York City was announced Wednesday night: Joe Concha, who’d been hosting “WOR Tonight” from 6-9 PM for just shy of a year, is out.
*The cuts appear to be reaching deeper into large markets: in Boston, there’s word that 35-year veteran Deb Lawler has lost her morning anchor job at WBZ (1030), a role she’s held since 1992. Lawler was the last original anchor remaining from WBZ’s start as an all-news station.
The cuts at WBZ also include Bradley Jay, the station’s overnight talk host, as well as two outside contributors to the station: veteran sports anchor Tom Cuddy and political commentator Jon Keller, whose “Keller at Large” features dated back to the days when WBZ radio and TV were under the same roof and ownership. (Keller remains at WBZ-TV as its political analyst.)
At classic rocker WZLX (100.7), morning show executive producer Jackson Burnes is out after six years. (“I can be reached at email@example.com and my cell is 617-669-5242.”)
*We’re starting to get word about cuts in Providence, and they include veteran staffers, too. Geoff Charles was on rocker WHJY (94.1) for well over two decades, and weekender Pete Silva was with WHJY for 30 years. They’re both out, and we expect more sad news from the Providence cluster in tomorrow’s updates, alas.
*Another veteran who’s out is Tony Bristol in Worcester, who served as PD of AC WSRS (96.1) and news-talk WTAG (580/94.9) since joining the cluster in 2015.
Also gone in Worcester is WSRS morning co-host Greg Bedard – and when you then add in the cut down the Pike in Springfield that claimed the job of WHYN-FM (93.1) co-host Kera Burk, you have to wonder whether the next step will be to combine the remaining halves of their shows, Suzanne Lewis at WSRS and Chris Zito at WHYN-FM, for a regional FM morning simulcast similar to the one that’s already happening between WTAG in Worcester and WHYN(AM) in Springfield.
*On Cape Cod, the “Dan and Stephanie” morning show is gone from WCOD (106.1) after 25 years, leaving Dan Mahoney and Stephanie Viva looking for work. (Reach Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org).
*There were also still more cuts in Erie, where almost no live jocks are left in the Boston Store building. At top 40 WRTS (Star 103.7), PD Chuck Rambaldo (who also programmed sister stations WTWF and WRKT and did afternoons on Star) is out, and so is midday/weekend jock Kyle Hendricks (reach him at email@example.com.)
Down the hall at “Rocket” WRKT, night jock Danel “Baxter” Irving is out.
*And we’re starting to hear of engineering department cuts around the country; in the Sussex County, N.J. “Tri-State” cluster, that includes Tony DeNicola (“Tony Dee”), who’d been with the company 16 years.
*In Syracuse, WYYY (94.5) morning host Pat McMahon is out; his “Pat and Pauly” show was a two-market simulcast with Pauly Guglielmo, who’s still standing at WDVI (100.5) here in Rochester at last check.
Jim Dunagan, who did middays on WYYY and newscasts on sister station WSYR (570/106.9) as “Big Jim Donovan” is out, too.
Also in Syracuse, “DJ Kobe” (Cory Fargo) is out; he’d been programming WWHT (Hot 107.9) and was also on air at New Haven sister station WKCI (KC101).
Daryl Thomas (Ledyard), who’d been on air at WBBS (B104.7) and WYYY, is out.
And we’ve learned Tuesday morning that Kenny Dees, who was PD of urban “Power 620” (WHEN), is also out in Syracuse.
*Down the road in Rochester, Billy D’Ettorre is out as producer of the Brother Wease show on WAIO (95.1).
At sister station WHTK (1280), Carl Falk’s local sports talk show is gone from afternoon drive, replaced by Fox Sports Radio.
Rochester veteran J.P. Hastings is also out after 14 years; most recently, he’d programmed WDVI (Mix 100.5) in Rochester, WYYY in Syracuse and WMXW in Binghamton, as well as tracking evenings on Mix and middays on WNBL (107.3 the Bull) in Rochester.
One more Rochester cut: WHAM-TV (Channel 13) anchor Doug Emblidge won’t be doing morning news anymore on Wease’s show.
*”Chris Warren” (Warren Garling) spent 18 years doing production and part-time on-air work at WTRY (98.3) in Albany, and is now out.
So is Joe Gallagher, who was a weekend host at WGY (810) and a station institution, having worked there since the 1980s, including a stretch as the afternoon host.
Randy McCarten, the operations manager in Albany, is out, too, as are production director Duke Mussman and Ken Place, who’d been a producer on sports talker WOFX (980).
*There are no cuts, so far, to the very small staff remaining in Binghamton.
*But a tiny staff is no guarantee jobs won’t be cut at a cluster – look to Hudson, where Bill Williams has been effectively a one-man band at the little iHeart outpost that includes WHUC (1230), WCTW (98.5) and WZCR (93.5). Bill was doing all the local content on those stations – mornings on WZCR, afternoons on WCTW and local news and public affairs for an area with no other commercial radio station of its own. And now he’s gone.
*In Poughkeepsie, Cameron Hendricks is out as WKIP (1450) news director, and Jaleel “J-Will” Williams is out as PD/afternoons of WPKF (Kiss 96.1) and PD of WBWZ (93.3).
WBWZ appears to be especially hard hit, also losing afternoon jock John “Tigman” Rutigliano, who’d just moved over to iHeart a year and a half ago after a long run with Townsquare.
*Gary Cee is out as senior VP/programming for iHeart’s “Tristate” cluster based in Sussex County, N.J. (Where, among other things, he was tracking middays on WBWZ.)
Other cuts in Sussex include 40-year veteran weekend/fill-in jock George Fuller; Tony Paige from WNNJ (103.7); and Mel “Andrews” Ajero, who’d been doing weekends on WSUS.
*Matt Leonard is out in Portsmouth, N.H., where he’d been on the air and doing production for WHEB (100.3) for the last five years.
Jadd Naamani, who’d been in Portsmouth before moving to a PD role in Tulsa, was cut today – he’d been tracking for WKCI in Connecticut and for WSNE in Providence as well.
*The one cut we’ve confirmed in Boston is Ginny Brophey, who’d moved from WKLB over to become PD at iHeart’s country rival, WBWL, in 2018.
*On Cape Cod, Marylee Kelly is out as production director; she was also an afternoon jock at the cluster’s WCIB (Cool 101.9).
*John Allers, who programmed WRFF (104.5) in Philadelphia and oversaw the company’s alternative formats as VP for Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Reading, is out. (He also held a national programming coordinator role for the format.)
Wendy Rollins used to be based in Philadelphia and was still heard weekends on WRFF (104.5) there; she was APD and middays on iHeart’s Alt station in Atlanta, WRDA.
*In Erie, the Tuesday cuts included Bill Page from WXBB (94.7 Bob FM) and Sammy Stone and Carrie Leigh from WTWF (93.9 the Wolf), as well as Alex Wormer, who was the cluster’s assistant production director and host of afternoon drive on sports talk WFNN (1330).
This is a developing story; updates to come. If you’re affected, or you know of colleagues who have been, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your confidentiality will be protected.