An iHeart Confirm of Furlough-to-Layoff Transition


With the radio industry continuing to experience economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s No. 1 owner of radio stations saw its two top C-Suite leaders update employees on “some steps” it is taking to position the company for the post-COVID future.

In short, iHeartMedia will be welcoming back only a portion of those furloughed earlier this year.

The news was shared by CEO Bob Pittman and COO/CFO Rich Bressler in an internal memo first published by AllAccess Music Group.

In the memo, Pittman and Bressler acknowledge the “difficult step of furloughing some employees” in March, just as the novel coronavirus was rampaging across North America.

Most of those furloughed, Pittman and Bressler said, “were in jobs that we did not believe would be essential until business operations reverted back to their former state.”

Clearly, they now note, “the downturn has been deeper and longer than originally expected, although advertising is beginning to recover and we are doing better than most in our areas.”

It is in sharp contrast to some of the company’s peers in the broadcast TV industry, where retransmission consent revenue and political dollars, along with the return of professional sports, has greatly assisted in buoying battered revenue.

Further, Pittman and Bressler state, “It is also apparent that as result of changed work habits and so much work still being done from home, we will not need all the jobs we once had; we will be working in new ways going forward and must align our organization with the future.”

This suggests that, until any sort of return to pre-COVID office organization, the jobs being eliminated won’t be coming back anytime soon.

Bressler and Pittman note that some furloughed iHeartMedia staff members are still en route to returning to their jobs, along with furloughed team members already back on the job. However, they add, “We will unfortunately be eliminating a number of our furloughed jobs. These decisions were not made easily or quickly — and they are all painful. These are good people who really care about our company, and to lose any is hard.”

The iHeart leaders concluded the staff memo by saluting iHeartMedia staff for their dedication to the company and its mission, “and all the hard work you are doing to keep us on the path of recovery and growth — not just back to where we were, but beyond.”