America’s Top Radio Company Refocuses On ‘Common Needs’

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In an announcement distributed to select trade publications and posted to its investor relations web page, iHeartMedia revealed “a new organizational structure for its Markets Group.”


As first reported by Streamline Publishing’s Radio Ink, jobs will be lost. The exact number is unknown, but 18 high profile names were already public by mid-afternoon Tuesday.


“[T]here will be some employee dislocation — some by geography and some by function — which is the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company. In short, iHeartMedia will now group its markets ‘by common needs and characteristics’ — and into ‘three distinctly different divisions to make sharing of resources and experiences easier and more targeted.'” — CEO Bob Pittman and COO/CFO Rich Bressler, in an internal memo sent to iHeartRadio employees on Tuesday and obtained by AllAccessMusicGroup


 

At the top is iHeartMedia Markets Group President Greg Ashlock, who will continue to lead the operation.

Under Ashlock are four divisions — including a newly created one.

The first described by iHeart in the announcement, which the company did not distribute on business wires and only through its own recipient list, is the “Region Division.”

This comprises the company’s largest markets, including New York and Los Angeles. This division will be led by Division Presidents Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck.

LeGrett is presently Los Angeles Market President; Hopek is New York Market President.

Then, there is a “Metro Division,” comprised of mid-sized markets and led by Division Presidents Tom McConnell, Tony Coles and Linda Byrd.

McConnell has led iHeart’s Midwest/Southeast Division, while industry veteran Coles is a EVP/Programming who joined the company in January 2004 after successfully programming KRWM-FM & KLSY-FM in Seattle for 4 1/2 years.

Byrd is a division president based in Orlando and has overseen the Central Florida for iHeart and predecessor Clear Channel since 1999.

Logically, these changes result in the creation of a “Community Division,” which iHeart says “includes markets that focus on the shared needs of one community and one trading area for most businesses and advertisers.” It will also group markets into areas which are “geographically close and culturally similar.”

The Community Division will be led by Division Presidents Shosh Abromovich, in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio; Philadelphia Region President Nick Gnau and Dan Lankford, who is President of iHeart’s Allentown and Harrisburg, Pa., stations.

The Community Division appointments give a glimpse into some of the consolidation that Radio Ink is likely to come. For instance, Denver and Fort Collins-Greeley could combine forces.

Lastly, iHeart is creating a new division that cuts across all markets — the Multi-Market Partnerships (MMP) Division.

This will headed by Julie Donohue, who is elevated to President of MMP with responsibility for this business. She has been based in Chicago since 2015, focused on these duties for the stations iHeart owns and operates in the nation’s No. 3 market.

What does this mean for iHeart’s Integrated Revenue Strategies group, led by President Hartley Adkins?

It is merging into the iHeartMedia Markets Group, with Adkins taking the COO role of the Markets Group, working closely with Ashlock.

Meanwhile, iHeart’s technology- and AI-enabled “Centers of Excellence,” which the company explains “consolidate functional areas of expertise in specific locations,” will be used across all markets.

Commenting on the moves is iHeart Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman. He said, “iHeart is the rare example of a major traditional media company that has made the successful transformation into a 21st century media company – one with unparalleled scale, reaching 91% of Americans each month with our broadcast assets alone, more than any other media company. We are now using our considerable investments in technology to modernize our operations and infrastructure, further setting us apart from traditional media companies; improving our services to our consumers and advertising partners; and enhancing the work environment for our employees.”

On the topic of employees, AllAccess Music Group noted Tuesday morning that a memo sent to iHeart staff from Pittman and COO/CFO Rich Bressler discussed “employee dislocation.”

Specifically, the internal note states, “there will be some employee dislocation — some by geography and some by function — which is the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.  We have had to make some tough decisions, and in the process some employees have been affected.  Please know we were thoughtful in this process and have provided enhanced severance benefits as well as outplacement assistance for any impacted employees, and we want to thank them for the valuable contributions they have made.”

By 3:15pm Eastern, the list of casualties across iHeartMedia had become lengthy.

Departing as SVP of Programming are Mike Preston in Baltimore; Chuck Knight in San Antonio; Gary Cee in Sussex, N.J.; and Tom Travis in Oklahoma City. Also out: Chad Heritage, the SVP/Programming of KSSN/Little Rock and a Country Brand Coordinator.

The Country format was hit particularly hard. WSIX-FM/Nashville afternoon hosts and syndicated evening personalities Tige & Daniel are gone. In Oklahoma City, PD/afternoon host Bill Reed and morning host Shawn Carey exit KXXY-FM, a Classic Country station.

Among the bigger air personalities parting ways with iHeart are WWHT-FM “Hot 107.9” in Syracuse PD/afternoon host Kobe, a.k.a. Cory Fargo; and Wendy Rollins, Asst. PD/middays at WRDA-FM “Alt 105.7” in Atlanta. Rollins also voicetracked weekends at WRFF-FM in Philadelphia and hosted middays on an iHeart “premium choice” plug-and-play Alternative feed for several of its stations across the U.S.

In Huntsville, Ala., programmer Johnny Maze is no longer in charge of WTAK-FM and two FM translators. Over in Louisiana, KVDU/New Orleans and WFMF/Baton Rouge PD Jeff Haber is out. Jacksonville’s WKSL “97.9 Kiss FM” said goodbye to PD Skip Kelly.

In Dayton, Dent has departed WTUE-FM and WZDA-FM’s programming chair. Wichita’s KTHR-FM & KZCH-FM no longer has Manny Cowzinski in the PD slot.

From Miramar, Fla., RBR+TVBR has learned that Anne Urist, an on-air talent at WMIA-FM and WMIB-FM “103.5 The Beat,” is gone, as is WMIB and WBGG-FM “Big 105.9” Asst. PD/MD and imaging director Ed Nieves.

As of 3:25pm Eastern, iHeart shares were at $17.24, just shy of its post-bankruptcy high of $17.32 seen on Jan. 6.

1 COMMENT

  1. Wow we are seeing the Fourth Industrial Revolution in action. This is exactly what that man Andrew Yang is talking about. First the manufacturing workers getting replaced by robots, now creatives getting replaced by software. This is only the beginning. Best of luck to those who lost their jobs, we can only hope our government takes some action to help out these people and the millions of others who are likely to see their jobs automated in the next few years.

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