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Corporate Radio Will Never Learn Job Cuts Aren’t the Key to Profitability

There comes a point in time, sadly, when a self-labeled News/Talk radio station forfeits the right to describe itself as such. That generally happens when you are providing no or at least so very little actual news product that you should just call yourself a Talk station and move on.

That concept is starting to climb the staircase to reality again thanks to last week’s developments in the ever-struggling world of broadcast media.

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I was hoping to go at least six months without having to say the words Audacy or layoffs. No such luck. In fact, I get to put the two words together.

This is a company with well over 200 stations, covering nearly 50 markets across the country. What are they best known for in the last five years by my observations?

Failure.

An Audacy spokesman says the company is reducing its workforce by “less than 2%”.

Yeah okay, so that’s supposed to make us feel better somehow? That works out to nearly 100 people. All in the effort to try and reduce Audacy’s almost $2 billion in debt.

Bankruptcy and delisting weren’t enough, apparently.

In the spirit of full transparency, I worked under the Entercom and Audacy banners on two separate occasions, some 20 years apart. It seems under the old name — and prior leadership — things fared more than a tad better. Read into that what you will.

I’m no business person but I can read and I do have the ability to form the occasional coherent thought every once in a while. So, based upon what I’ve observed over the past quarter century, perhaps there’s some merit to the saying, “Bad things happen in Philadelphia.”

In most corporate settings, business ventures, and other fields of play, when the team is taking hit after hit and not recovering or regaining any ground, it’s time for an overhaul.

My dad ran a restaurant for several years and during that time he faced challenges, man-made and otherwise. And while he was no Wolfgang Puck or Toots Shor, never once did he think of adding me to the mix to try and improve the product or the business environment. Not everybody is a chip off the old block as no doubt everyone in radio has seen by now.

Interestingly, the company has once again made major cuts as it continues to tell us the focus and priorities are on streaming, podcasting, and the website. Laudable efforts, I suppose, but if you so decimate your core product there will be no platform left where you can promote all of these fabulous ventures, or more accurately there will be no audience to inform. I would think this is something a sharp or even moderately competent business person might recognize.

But the fact of the matter is no matter what you say or do, you are a radio station first. And to promote your podcasts and your website, there has to be something to listen to on your station.

These are the things that a sharp or even moderately competent businessperson might recognize.

At some point, there has to be a come about if there is to be much left at all for the radio lobbyists to fight for. The very essence of the radio product is what disappears when these slashes occur, and the voices, the names, and the people creating the content disappear. Somehow, those making the poor decisions, the individuals executing the wrong moves, or even more accurately, no moves at all, remain.

Those overseeing the poor decision-makers are themselves poor decision-makers. The proof is in the end result. Could single ownership of stations do any worse? Perhaps it’s time for the Titanic to cast off the lifeboats before they hit the really big iceberg that’s inevitably coming. They’ve hit enough of the smaller ones and perhaps at least a few of those in the lifeboats stand a chance.

I for one would give a station owned by a guy named Morty a listen or two. WKRP didn’t do too badly under the Carlson family.

In any case, if you have not surveyed the latest damage: major markets got hit, again, with this latest round of layoffs.

Just after launching their dedicated sports brand, Audacy made cuts in Pittsburgh, Boston, Hartford, and New York.

I’m guessing those now part of the new sports portfolio are overwhelmed with confidence.

Oh, and did I say Hartford?

Yes, two people I sat across from just a couple of years ago at Audacy were shown the door. Sad on a personal level and mind-numbing from a business angle as it leaves us to wonder exactly how low they can go before the station offers no news value at all to the market. Doesn’t leave much else to choose from either.

But after all, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

Bill Zito
Bill Zitohttps://barrettmedia.com
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.

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