Disney Branded Television president Gary Marsh announced the news Thursday, which impacts 36 part-time and full-time employees. The move comes as Marsh’s division looks to emphasize the production of kids and family content for streaming service Disney Plus and the linear Disney Channels.
Radio Disney first debuted in Nov. 1996 as a terrestrial broadcast network, aimed at kids, who would pick music playlist by calling a toll-free phone request line. The station was key to amplifying a bevy of musical artists, including the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Hilary Duff, Aaron Carter and others.
Radio Disney Country launched in 2015 as a digital platform, expanding two years later with two Los Angeles terrestrial stations.
Per a statement from Radio Disney:
Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country will cease operations in the first quarter of 2021. The announcement was made today by Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Branded Television, who today addressed the 36 full- and part-time employees who will be impacted by the closure early next year.
Radio Disney in Latin America is a separate operation and is not impacted by the announcement today.
The difficult decision to close these two radio networks coincided with Disney’s recently announced structural changes that call for Disney Branded Television to sharpen its focus on increasing production of kids’ and family content for Disney+ and Disney Channels. Division leaders also took into account the fast evolving media environment that provides more personalized music choices than ever to a generation of young consumers, and the ongoing public health crisis that continues to affect in-person music events.
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