I’m surprised by iHeart’s recent ‘dislocations’, but not shocked. Word is that 1,000 souls were sacrificed at the altar of bottom-line profit.
The first to go is always the air talent, radio’s most precious asset and only hope for survival. While iHeart saved money for investors, they’ve mortgaged their future. Live and local? Yeah, right. Your favorite station is probably a hard drive, stored in a closet. Before long, they’ll have a handful of DJs in each format. Identical stations, flavorless replicas.
Dear iHeart, If you want your stations to thrive, staff them with great personalities. Fire the card readers. Cut the clutter. Drop the hollow slogans. Forget the contests. Love the music. Bring back fun and entertain us.
Look, reducing expenses is a part of business. But there’s a humane way to handle terminations – and it starts with owning it.
Here’s my take. This brought back bad memories from when I led the programming for Westwood One. When the word came to make deep cuts, I flew to each city and stayed just long enough to ruin people’s lives. I fired dozens of committed folks that I’d recruited, hired and mentored.
I lived the movie, Up In The Air.
However, we felt it was important to let people go with dignity. So, we met with everyone privately. We openly explained the changes, gave them severance pay and 30 days advance notice. We also paid bonuses to all who finished their final month in style. Everyone did.
Still, there’s nothing more soul crushing than sitting across from a dad, a mom, a breadwinner…and making them cry. Some people can take that in stride. Not me. I resigned shortly afterward.
I followed my heart.