In recent months, the Jeff Andrulonis-led Colonial Radio Group has successfully shifted the focus of its media operations from the Twin Tiers of Pennsylvania and Western New York to the Carolinas.
Now, one of Colonial’s three FMs in South Carolina is being spun.
The buyer? It’s a Maryland licensee whose behind an Oldies operation heard on an AM and a trio of FM translators due northeast of Baltimore.
Idil Cakim is senior vice president, research and insights with Entercom. Devora Rogers is chief strategy officer with Alter Agents.Idil Cakim
Life in our modern, always-on world has made for shorter attention spans as more options for information, entertainment, engagement and connection vie for our time. Today’s audiences jump from one media source to the next in a flash, giving brands only a few seconds to tell their story and call consumers to action.
When Entercom set out to discover how audio content and advertising fit into this equation, we wanted to understand how audio amplified messages and engaged audiences compared to other media. We designed a study to measure the impact of audio on audiences and define “engaged impressions.”
We employed a number of market research techniques to dive into how audiences consumed media and contextualize media choices they made as they: navigated their everyday activities; leaned in to get information about their communities; and sought entertainment.Devora Rogers
Together with market research firm Alter Agents, Entercom decided on an approach consisting of a survey of a nationally representative population of adults, coupled with an agile neuroscience study by Immersion of individuals from the major U.S markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. We compiled the data to examine consumer experiences with audio such as over-the-air (OTA), streaming OTA and podcast versus other mediums such as TV, video, social, and pureplay platforms.
Immersion, the key metric in our study, is a scientific measure of emotional connection and attention. It reveals what audiences truly love and predicts their future actions.
Using our neuroscience partner’s platform, backed by 20 years of peer-reviewed science funded by DARPA, we measured variations in heart rate in order to understand what the brain values. We then coupled these findings with our survey results to create a multidimensional picture of media audiences.Takeaways
Our findings fell into three core areas:
- Immersion, which predicts sales: Our data indicated that audio has the highest level of immersion among all the platforms. Linear TV and social media scored significantly lower. Immersion is predictive of sales at a very high analytical accuracy rate, surpassing 80%. The findings suggest audio impressions, which are more immersive, will yield sales. (Immersion is scored from 0 to 100; the higher the number, the more immersive the experience.)
Digital video 54
Linear TV 52
Social media 52
- Impact, which is rooted in trust. When measuring variations in heart rate and brain activity, our researchers were actually reading biological signals of trust. Trust triggers memorability and action and is the underlying factor in audio impact. Our engaged impressions study found that the audio portfolio (69%), consisting of OTA, streaming OTA and podcasts, is significantly more trusted than other mediums such as TV (64%), social media (56%), YouTube (47%) and even Digital Pureplays (44%).
- Action, which moves business. Audio has a winning formula that moves people to take action. For example, we found that one-third of broadcast OTA listeners have taken action after hearing a host recommendation as part of a commercial (34%) or as part of their show (32%). Audio portfolios that blend local content and host recommendations to consumers create a ripe environment for advertisers and positively impact consumer action.
The findings from this study are critical for the audio industry, as they lay a data-driven foundation to “make the case” for the strength of audio.
As more and more mediums compete for audience attention, this study proves that audio can effectively reach, engage and mobilize audiences. Audio leads all other media formats in its natural ability to guide listeners into spaces where they are hyper-connected, open and receptive. Immersive audio experiences trigger memorability, trust and connection. Listeners are drawn in with a sense of community and belonging. And advertisers see consistent results.
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Idil Cakim is senior vice president, research and insights with Entercom. She has devised marketing and communication strategies for Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations for 20 years.
Devora Rogers is chief strategy officer with Alter Agents, a strategic market research consultancy. She has led research teams, developed the methodology deployed for Google’s groundbreaking ZMOT research, and worked with dozens of global brands.
John Burtle has died. His career included stints at technology companies Automatic Tape Control (ATC) and Broadcast Electronics, where he once held the position of VP of product development.
He was 80, according to an obituary on the website of Hansen-Spear Funeral Home in Quincy, Ill.
“He was the force behind the BE automation products including the Control 16,” wrote his friend Chuck Kelly of Broadcast Electronics on social media.
According to the obituary, Burtle served in the U.S. Air Force and graduated from Chicago DeVry Tech School.
Andy Rector met Burtle while making a sales trip for ATC in the mid-1960s. Burtle eventually joined ATC, which would be purchased by Gates Radio, and he moved with the company from Bloomington to Quincy, Ill.
“John followed Larry Cervon when he purchased Broadcast Electronics and was instrumental in moving the BE operation [in 1977] from the Washington, D.C., area to Quincy,” Rector recalled.
Later in his career Burtle worked at ETC Computerland in computer training prior to retiring.
“John was a good friend and a fellow conservative,” Rector said. “He helped me put together a history of the broadcast tape cartridge machine which we presented to the Madison Broadcasters Clinic in 2008, the 50th anniversary of that device.” He called Burtle a great friend and fellow broadcaster.”Information about graveside services on Friday are on the funeral home website.
The iHeartMedia Region Senior Vice President of Sales for the Kentucky-Indiana Metro has been selected to serve as Market President for its Indianapolis radio stations.
Earning the promotion is Kristy Beebe.
As Market President, Beebe will work closely with the programming, business and sales teams and oversee all of the station’s on-air and digital programming as well as create new revenue opportunities.
She will report to Earl Jones, President for iHeartMedia Kentucky-Indiana Metro.
Beebe will be based in Indianapolis.
“I am so excited for Kristy’s well-deserved promotion to Market President,” said Jones. “She has earned the opportunity to lead our Indianapolis market. Kristy has been an incredible sales leader, coach, and major contributor to the success of iHeartMedia Kentucky-Indiana Metro.”
Beebe has held various sales leadership positions throughout her career, including Local Sales Manager and General Sales Manager for iHeartMedia Toledo and iHeartMedia Louisville. She began her career in sales at iHeartMedia in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio and is a graduate of Lourdes University.
“I am so thankful to Earl Jones and the iHeartMedia team for this new leadership opportunity,” said Beebe. “I am ready to lead the Indianapolis team to new heights as we work together to provide unmatched service to our listeners, advertisers and the community.”
On Sept. 17, 2019, East Arkansas Broadcasters (EAB) — the radio broadcasting company owned by Bobby Caldwell — agreed to a transaction that would bring a local newspaper back to life.
There’s just one problem: His plan to purchase the Stuttgart Daily Leader in Stuttgart, Ark., and resume daily print publications at present runs afoul of media cross-ownership rules that the FCC rewrote, but were remanded by the Third Circuit federal court of appeals.
With the Supreme Court considering whether to uphold or toss the Third Circuit decision, Caldwell has moved forward with another deal — one that doesn’t involve cross-media concerns.
Each year at Radio World we receive hundreds — if not thousands — of press releases about radio executives, general managers, air talent and sales people. We get very few about engineers. I like to celebrate them when I do.
Leighton Broadcasting in St. Cloud, Minn., wants us to know that it has a very special director of engineering and IT. He is Tony Abfalter, K0VSC, recipient of its MVP Award for 2020.
CEO Bob Leighton writes on his blog, “When the government called for a shutdown to protect against the coronavirus, we, like many others, had to quickly rethink how we worked … Our account executives were going remote but still needed access to company resources and new ways to connect with their clients. Our on-air announcers needed a safe environment to broadcast in and when they were self-quarantined due to potential exposure, they too, needed to be able to work from home.
“With the clock ticking, we called the department all station managers call when things aren’t working: engineering. … Tony Abfalter was already formulating a plan.”
I contacted Abfalter to ask him to describe how he approached the pandemic.
“We had been focused on taking a look ahead on what could become problems in the future. While COVID-19 obviously was not something seen, our planning was easily adapted to it,” he replied.
“Over the past few years, broadcasters have had to take a look at some new challenges, like, ‘What if we can’t access the studios but still need to delivery timely, quality content? How do we do that cost-effectively? How do we make the process easy to implement on the fly?’
“Some of the solutions we implemented in building out this plan was moving to cloud-based services that can be accessed easily. The use of Microsoft 365 services, especially Teams, allowed staff to communicate and keep things moving. For remote studio live studio work the Comrex Opals we installed three years ago proved to be extremely valuable.” A secure VPN also was part of the process.
Bob Leighton said, “Tony accomplished all of this seamlessly and swiftly, which we considered exceptional and instrumental to our success, as an organization — a real MVP.”
Leighton presented the award in the original KFAM building in St. Cloud, Minn, recently refurbished in a retro style. “The remodel not only looks cool, but it allows our director of engineering to monitor and maintain all of our company signals from one location,” Leighton noted.
The family owned company has 190 employees, 64 RF/streaming audio sources, 26 format brands, six markets and one engineer.
Kudos to Tony Abfalter — and a tip of the hat to Leighton Broadcasting for highlighting the important contributions of radio engineering.
[Related: Read the Radio World ebook “Remote Radio Phase II.”]
It was developed to help entertainment providers improve content discovery and viewership KPIs on their platforms.
Introducing “Personalized Imagery,” a Gracenote platform the Nielsen-owned entity says brings linear and streaming TV providers the ability to display program images capturing different aspects of a TV show or movie based on viewer consumption.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s broadcast TV stations will now be using air chain technology that comes courtesy of a South Korean software company expressly designed to assist the company as it deploys NEXTGEN TV across the U.S.
Frequency control remains one of the biggest pain points in TV advertising.
Now, three major broadcast TV station owners are addressing this issue. It involves the use of a “full stack solution” — an infrastructure-as-a-service adtech platform designed to increase local reach.
Consider it a programmatic vitamin now in place at FOX Television Stations, properties owned by The E.W. Scripps Co. and at TEGNA TV stations, courtesy of MadHive.
FOX, Scripps and TEGNA are now tapping MadHive’s full stack solution to address this problem.
MadHive’s platform has incorporated tools for fraud detection, attribution, audience based-buying and delivery guarantees. Now, MadHive is offering the clients its “Audience Forecaster” platform.
The company says it can help the TV station owners in measure and control frequency across providers and DMAs.
There’s also the lingering issue of transparency for OTT and Connected TV, areas where broadcast TV companies are growing thanks to the availability of local news programming through station apps and platforms including Haystack TV and NewsOn.
MadHive CEO Adam Helfgott says, “The concept of delivery guarantees is a longstanding tradition in the world of linear, but delivery can be difficult to predict in the programmatic landscape. Developing an accurate forecasting methodology involves building a robust technical infrastructure capable of ingesting, organizing, and optimizing billions of signals.”
A Tampa Bay-based live event broadcast production firm and its streaming-for-broadcast tech subsidiary are teaming with a veteran WFTS-28 news anchor by having her newly launched business handle all local marketing and PR services.
Total Traffic & Weather Network (TTWN), the iHeartMedia-owned provider of traffic, weather, news and sports content, has signed a new partnership agreement with “the world’s largest road-facing camera network.”
That’s Vizzion, and the new pact ensures its visual transit coverage reaches TTWN broadcast partners without cessation of service.
Vizzion’s nationwide aggregated traffic camera network encompasses imagery and live-feeds for use in traffic and weather reports.
The live look-ins are used by TTWN traffic reporters in more than 120 U.S. markets.
“Live imagery acts as a visually appealing add-on to the high-definition maps and graphics available through TTWN’s traffic presentation systems,” said Sean Beaudoin, Account Manager for Vizzion. “It’s important for broadcasters to deliver the most accurate data to their viewers, and the combination of TTWN’s hand-collected, real-time traffic and weather partnered with Vizzion’s 35,000 US-wide cameras makes for engaging and informative reporting.”
Michael Panarello, Vice President of TV Affiliate Sales and Operations for Total Traffic & Weather Network, added, “Live video enhances traffic storytelling. TTWN partners with Vizzion to give presenters the video content they need to create compelling, solutions-based reports showing viewers and digital users the real-time impact of incidents, congestion and weather on commute times.”
Shane Toven, CSRE CBNT, is senior broadcast engineer at Educational Media Foundation.
This article appeared in Radio World’s “Trends in Codecs and STLs for 2020” ebook.
Radio World: What’s the most important trend you see in the design and performance of codecs for remote or STL use for radio broadcast facilities?
Shane Toven: I see a trend toward combining multiple codec channels in a single unit. This helps with consolidation of facilities where multiple content streams and locations are involved. I also see codecs becoming more powerful as newer and more efficient encoding options are available.
The most exciting development that I see is increasing quality with less bandwidth usage. As broadcasters shift toward consolidating more facilities and interconnecting remote talent, this will be an important consideration for balancing quality versus bandwidth cost.
RW: How are today’s technologies solving problems in creative ways, or being deployed in your own facilities?
Toven: Codecs have been an invaluable tool for me, going all the way back to the original POTS codecs. Unfortunately, ISDN was not an option in rural Minnesota where I started my career. I purchased a Comrex Vector at my first station when that technology became available. It made a significant improvement in the quality of remote broadcasts when the options for connectivity in rural areas were limited.
Once IP connectivity started becoming more ubiquitous and there were an increasing number of IP codec options on the market, I took advantage of that to execute some very complex remotes, one of which involved live events at two different venues, and full talkback facilities between the studio and the two venues.
The latest application for codecs at my current facility has been converting multiple channels of audio on the AoIP network at the studio to encoded audio for carrying across lower bandwidth links. This conversion is done entirely inside the codec itself without any actual transition to AES or analog audio. Livewire I/O on one interface, codec I/O on the other interface. It really makes for a very nicely integrated solution.
RW: What role are codecs playing in this new world of at-home broadcasting?
Toven: Codecs have been critical in this role, though not in the traditional hardware sense. Some broadcasters have chosen to deploy hardware codecs for this purpose, but many others are using services such as CleanFeed or ipDTL. Both have advantages and drawbacks, but the biggest advantage of a software-based solution is ease of use and reduction in hardware costs. I could also envision a scenario where the codecs themselves become an integrated software component of a virtual infrastructure. Your smartphone becomes your codec and the talent can work from anywhere with very little hardware.
RW: How have AoIP technology developments been reflected in the look and function of codecs?
Toven: AoIP has made implementing multichannel codecs much simpler. Instead of a rack full of AES or even analog audio wiring, the codec has no traditional audio I/O at all. One such product that we currently use is the Telos iPort. This streamlines the installation and implementation of codecs in our AoIP based facility considerably. The codec has very few physical controls and metering on it. Instead you have a 1RU box that can handle eight or more channels of encoding and decoding with all monitoring and control performed via the network.
RW: What will the codec of the future look like, if we use one at all?
Toven: As connectivity continues to improve, we may in fact not require codecs anymore. I can envision a time where we are able to pass multiple channels of uncompressed AoIP between facilities directly. This would further simplify installations by eliminating one more step in the chain and improve audio quality by reducing the number of cascading codecs, a problem that has plagued engineers since the early days of bit-reduced encoding. I think what will become more important rather than codecs in this scenario is precision timing sources synchronized to GPS.
WideOrbit is out with a new version of its WO Automation for Radio.
Version 5.0 includes important enhancements for broadcasters with “distributed operations,” aka remote work.
It said these improvements help users manage station operations with a decentralized staff; run programming from home or elsewhere via mobile devices; manage content and playlists remotely; and integrate with other systems like MusicMaster and WO Traffic.
“WO Automation for Radio version 5.0 modernizes remote voice tracking capabilities to extend the complete in-studio experience to remote users,” the company said.
“Native apps can be installed and operated from virtually anywhere there’s an internet connection, on almost any device, including desktop environments running macOS, Windows or Linux, as well as on iOS mobile devices.”
Also new, a “Stop Media Asset Workflow Action” allows on-air assets to be stopped automatically or on-demand. And “Content Import Prioritization” streamlines the downloading of important content first whether from local drives or FTP sites.
Years ago I took a firearms safety course. I remember the instructor saying, “The safety on a gun is a mechanical device. And any mechanical device can fail.” I’ve learned that this admonition about mechanical devices was true.
I think we can all agree that seemingly mundane matters involving our devices and tools are often ignored. The problem is that minimizing them can create glaring, noticeable problems.
I like to call these “mechanical distractions.” Our broadcast gear is electronic, yes; but these are machines that produce a product. In a concert venue or a church or any place with an installed sound system, the best sound system is the one you never notice. The system is built in such a way that the mechanical distractions are minimized.
A radio broadcast is much like an installed sound system. We want a listener to tune in and consume our product, not making mental notes about a technical aspect of the broadcast. This article presents examples of such minutia.The Most Obvious: Processing
If 40 people provide 40 differing views on processing, that’s normal. It is a passionate and subjective topic.
If a loudness war is raging in the market, we may be pulled into doing things with processing that defy basic fundamentals. On the flip side, if we’re the only format in the market, we might be aloof about the processing.
Both are bad practice.Processors like these are at their best when listeners can’t hear them working.
If we have achieved the “loudest” station in the market, is it smoking the final clipper? Is the multiband working so hard that listener fatigue is inevitable? Has audible distortion taken the place of clarity?
On the other hand, suppose we have a country format. Do listeners continually turn the station up and down because the processing is hardly doing its job?
Final processing is the hallmark of the station’s persona in the market. Set aside regular times to do some critical listening. Whether loud and aggressive or relaxed, the processing must serve your demographic without noticeable mechanics.RDS and PAD
Metadata quality control should be within the purview of the programming department. However, an extra set of eyes never hurt anyone.
As radios evolve into virtual dashboard computers, RDS and PAD become more important. Over the last two years I became the self-appointed RDS and PAD czar at our cluster. Our engineering department works endlessly to make sure these ancillary services work properly.This car radio stays in the TOC. If RDS looks bad here, it looks bad in someone’s car.
So when “Laddy Gaga” appears on the radio, or “020121-MU10004” or “Solitaire FT. Gucci Mane & Migos w./ Lil’ Yachty RADIO EDIT CLEAN VERSION,” it drives me insane.
In response, I’ve practically written a book for our programming staff that spells out artist and title formatting standards. Additionally, I’ve manually instituted these standards in our 13,000-song database.
“It’s not my job!” Well, that’s most likely true, but poorly formatted, misspelled or inconsistent RDS and PAD data is an embarrassing distraction that reflects poorly upon the station. When a listener looks at the name of a song, they shouldn’t start laughing about a spelling error.Little, Little Tiny Edits
Now that we’ve put our noses in programming business, let’s go down the hall to the production department.
When orders stack up, the production team becomes the busiest group in the building. They churn out spot after spot.
That is when editing slip-ups happen. They are usually slight, but if they go unchecked, they can become an unnecessary mechanical distraction. Should engineering mention production issues to production? This is tricky territory, requiring an open, friendly environment for dialogue.
One example is cutting off a breath or editing a file in such a way that a breath happens unnaturally. This does the product a disservice. Also, splicing together the same voice from two recording sessions is a noticeable distraction. Some production folks add compression and dynamics in post that cause a regular and familiar voice to sound unnatural.
If the midday guy voices a spot that plays during one of his stop sets and the processing is spectacularly more aggressive than the regular studio mic processing, the listener will hear a mechanical change — a distraction.
One last thing that pertains to production and air staff is mic placement. Ever see the ad where the girl talks into the end of a side-address mic? So talk periodically with the on-air and production people. The mic is a mechanical device that can cause mechanical distractions when used improperly.Stop Hurting Ourselves
Ssometimes we engineers get in our own way. Whether through complacency, lack of knowledge or lack of funds, we “let things go.”
I know of an RJ-45 connector right now in our TOC that needs replacing. It causes problems when it fails. Have I replaced it yet? Well, by the time you read this I will have!Radio broadcasting has become data transfer before our eyes. One of these RJ-45 jacks going bad can ruin the day. Periodically check to make sure they’re seated and that the cable-connector junctions are not pinched or strained.
The point is, loose ends add up and can become noticeable to listeners.
How could I have prevented that four minutes of dead air? A silence alarm could have sent an email and I could have remoted in and fixed it.
Or the main transmitter failed and now we’re off the air until I can get there and switch it to the aux. Maybe it’s time to look into an improved Burk or Davicom remote system?
The PD keeps complaining about distortion on VoxPro. “Well, she’s off her rocker.” Yes, she probably is, but she needs you to take some time and fix the audio levels in the studio!Be a People Person
When an engineer starts complaining to programming and production about how they’re doing their jobs, we can expect friction. Engineers don’t like it either.
However, reducing mechanical distractions doesn’t have to be contentious. Foster an environment of open dialogue, humor and camaraderie. That way, when we see typos on the RDS or hear a choppy radio ad or when the programming team hears a problem with the processing or something is up at a transmitter, a simple text, email or phone call won’t be an affront.
As broadcasters we present an on-air product in which the transport mechanism must be transparent. There should be nothing mechanically distracting between the jock’s mic and the listener’s speakers. Attention to detail and purposeful camaraderie go a very long way in creating a great product.
Chris Wygal is chief engineer for Summit Media Corp. in Richmond, Va.. He began a full-time career in radio broadcasting in 2002 and has been writing for broadcast trade publications since 2005.
An AoIP project helps Denver stations prepare for the new normal. Ford’s Scott Burnell says radio stations are missing an easy opportunity to compete better in the dash. John Bisset and Chris Wygal share tech tips. Entercom execs talk about audio’s power to engage.
All that and more in the March 3 edition.
The National Black Radio Hall of Fame has inducted more than 35 individuals and groups into its hall of fame roll.
Combining the 2020 and 2021 inductees into one class, these individuals are being recognized for the impact they’ve had on radio and in the wider community. The nonprofit organization, which was established in 2010, recognizes the contributions of personalities and pioneers of African-American radio.
The awards honor individuals in several categories including Community Service Artist of the Year, Gospel Radio Personality and the National Terrestrial Talk Radio Award. The awards also recognize individuals through the National Black Radio Hall of Fame Posthumous Award. This year that award was given to six individuals for their contribution to radio including former Baton Rouge radio host Guy Brody, radio host Yvonne Daniel who was part of the first all-female team on WSDM(FM) in Indiana, and Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg who cultivated a 48-year career as a Detroit R&B DJ and station owner.
Other awards include the Lifetime Media Achievement Award given to Joe Madison, known as “The Black Eagle,” who served as a talk radio host and civil rights activist who broke the Guinness World Record for longest talk show marathon when he stayed on the air 52 hours to raise funds for the Smithsonian. Talk show hosts Joyce Littel and Derek Boazman were also honored as were House Music Pioneer Award winners Bobby Holiday and Requaya Ward.
The complete list of 2020 and 2021 winners can be found below.
In addition to recognizing Black voices and promoting the historical perspective of African-Americans in national radio, the organization also offers educational and scholarship programs to connect communities to increased higher learning opportunities.
2020/2021 National Black Radio Hall of Fame Inductees:
National Black Radio Hall of Fame Posthumous Award — Guy Broady, Yvonne Daniel, Big George, Burke Johnson, Martha Jean the Queen, Irene Johnson Ware
Radio/Music Career Artist of the Year — Bobby Rush
Community Service Artist of the Year — Tony Terry
Radio Media Specialist Award — Harry Lyles, Lyles Media Group
Lifetime Media Achievement Award — Joe Madison, “The Black Eagle,” the Madison Show
Special Black Radio Original 13 Award Presentation — Given by Jill Gibson for Dorothy Brunson Family, Marshall Thompson the Chi-Lites Willie Martin “Perculator”
African-American Radio Promoter Award — Ted Astin, Arlinda Garrett, Leroy Little
African-American Station Owner Award — Mutter Evans, The Davis Group, Roscoe Miller
Community Service Personality Award — Derrick Chatman, Monica Pearson
Talented Sisters of Radio Award — Carol Blackmon, Shirley Ellis, Renee Miller
Talented Brothers of Radio Award — Mitch Faulkner, Bill Gay, Doug Steele
Gospel Radio Personality Award — Twanda Black, Melissa Summers, Larry Tinsley
Hip Hop Radio Personality Award — Dncredible Freddie Fred, Ryan Cameron, Greg Street
House Music Pioneer Award — Bobby Holiday, Requaya Ward
National Terrestrial Talk Radio Award — Derek Boazman, Joyce Littel
The post New Members Inducted into the National Black Radio Hall of Fame appeared first on Radio World.
Publicly traded radio and television broadcasting companies on Tuesday saw a flurry of highly divergent activity on Wall Street.
Meredith Corp., Sinclair Broadcast Group and Entercom were among the key gainers.
The decliners range from Saga Communications to Disney and Cumulus Media.
One of the stations is a Class B AM with an FM translator. The other is a Class D AM, also with an FM translator. They serve an area to the west of metropolitan Cleveland, and for fifty years had been associated with the Wilber family.
That’s no longer the case.
Another round of employee cuts at iHeartMedia last last week appears to include reductions in engineering departments at its broadcast operations.
Jerry Del Colliano in the online newsletter Inside Music Media put the number of iHeartMedia broadcast engineers cut at 39 as of Friday, with some of them expected to continue as contract help at stations.
Del Colliano reports that iHeartMedia will rely on a more regional approach to engineering staffing, in line with the company’s ongoing changes to its technology infrastructure and workflows. The company also is expected to outsource more of its engineering work as it continues to seek cost-cutting measures amid a weaker economic environment caused by the pandemic.
RadioInsight also reported on engineering cuts in a story Friday.
An iHeartMedia spokesperson declined to confirm the engineering staff cuts and offered no further comment to Radio World.
As we’ve reported before, the company has been building workflows around centralized content distribution centers that it calls AI-enabled Centers of Excellence. Its modernization initiative has resulted in layoffs in programming, sales and engineering, according to those familiar with the developments.
iHeartMedia was already sharing engineers between markets in many cases, sources have told Radio World. Following cuts in early 2020, the company created emergency response teams handle major technical crisis.
The company has never described the exact role of the regional hubs, but the technical overhaul of operations includes more remote voicetracking and a move of some broadcast operations into a cloud-based platform. It is consolidating some broadcast facilities and downsizing others, according to sources familiar with its plans.
The company has been downsizing headcount. According to its most recent 10K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as of Feb. 22, it had approximately 10,200 employees. A year ago, according to investor filings, it had approximately 11,400 employees.
Here’s how iHeartMedia described its modernization efforts to the SEC in a recent filing: “In January 2020, iHeartMedia announced key modernization initiatives designed to take advantage of the significant investments that the company has made in new technologies to build an improved operating infrastructure to upgrade products and deliver incremental cost efficiencies,” it stated.
“This modernization is a multi-pronged set of strategic initiatives that we believe positions the company for sustainable long-term growth, margin expansion, and value creation for shareholders. As targeted, our investments in modernization delivered approximately $50 million of in-year savings in 2020, and we remain on track to deliver annualized run-rate cost savings of approximately $100 million by mid-year 2021.”
Del Colliano, a skeptic of iHeartMedia’s recovery plan since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2019, was again critical. “This is an attempt by iHeart, always looking to assuage public opinion, that technology is the bad guy when in reality the actual savings are not coming from innovations in broadcast equipment or internet technology, but from sustained attempts to reduce their 10,000+ workforce by as much as possible as soon as possible,” he wrote.
The post Reports: iHeartMedia Makes Cuts to Engineering Staff appeared first on Radio World.
On November 5, 2020, Meredith Corp. revealed that it had propelled strongly into the first quarter of 2021. On February 4, the multimedia company with a local TV station group sat it enjoyed a strong fiscal Q2 2021 boost for those properties thanks to a political dollar windfall.
Do investors believe the fiscal Q3 for Meredith will be even bigger, given the company’s Tuesday stock performance?