iHeartMedia today announced a “new organizational structure” and “technology transformation” as it modernizes the company, and as often happens during such moves, layoffs are taking place. According to Country Aircheck and All Access, there have been multiple layoffs in the country and other sectors of the largest radio network in the U.S., including top roles at WPOC/Baltimore, KAJA and KRPT/San Antonio, KASE and KVET Austin, WSIX/Nashville and others.
The company addressed both moves, saying the number of layoffs are “relatively small,” in a statement provided to Variety. “We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in,” it reads. “This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness and our efficiency with all our major constituencies.
“During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function,” it continues. “But the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500. That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.”
In the announcement, the company notes that its Markets Group, which will continue to be helmed by Markets Group President Greg Ashlock, will now consist of the Region Division (including New York, Los Angeles and the other major markets), headed by Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck; the Metro Division (large, multi-community areas that are not regional hubs), led by Tom McConnell, Tony Coles and Linda Byrd; and the Community Division (single-community markets, with markets grouped by geography and cultural similarity), headed by by Shosh Abromovich, Nick Gnau and Dan Lankford.
It will also launch a cross-market division, the Multi-Market Partnerships (MMP) Division, led by Julie Donohue. The Integrated Revenue Strategies group, led by President Hartley Adkins, will be merged into the iHeartMedia Markets Group.
The announcement also speaks vaguely of “Centers of Excellence,” citing new technology- and artificial-intelligence-enabled sectors that “consolidate functional areas of expertise in specific locations to deliver the highest quality products and services – for every Market, enabling each to take advantage of the company’s scale and shared resources across programming, marketing, digital, podcasts, sales and sales support to provide a better experience for listeners and business partners and a more efficient process for all of its employees.” It says these centers “are the result of the great strides the company has made in improving its technology backbone and the hundreds of millions of dollars in investment it has made in building out the company’s core infrastructure,” along with recent acquisitions of podcasting and tech platforms like Jelli, RadioJar and Stuff Media.
“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,” Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman says in the announcement. “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.”
Regarding the layoffs, Country Aircheck cited an internal memo in which Pittman and president/COO Rich Bressler termed them as “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.”