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Big Radio Shows Their True Colors During, You Guessed It, More Small-Market Downsizing
"'Definitely a move away from the live and local,' says one source. 'I just don't think you can have a market of this size without any local talent – if you want good quality radio, anyway.'" –Conversations In Advocacy #73
Big radio broadcasters and their Washington, D.C. trade association the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) like to claim that they’re committed to protecting the little guy, the small local radio station. But every day we see more news that radio stations are turning to technology and automation instead of local radio to adjust to the landscape changes.
For example, on Jan. 14, an iHeart Media employee, who was laid off as part of the company's downsizing efforts, stated that the company is focusing, "On their app and podcasting and not as much on local markets and terrestrial."
And there are many stories of radio mainstays being let go due to iHeart Media’s reconfiguration.
Take the six people from a Des Moines station, including their morning and sports on-air talent, or the many other sports broadcasters in smaller markets who were among those who were let go by iHeartMedia. But wait, there's more. Consider the firing of "Donuts" from B95 and Hanna from Z100 in the Chippewa Valley, which triggered a change.com petition calling for iHeart to reverse their decision.
These firings are indicative of the larger trend by big radio to replace the very little guy NAB claims to protect, with their actions in Washington further highlighting where their loyalties lie. As the NAB prepares for its big-dollar move—they’ve announced that they will be relocating to a $62.76 million new headquarters in D.C— the trade lobby recently came out against the Ask Musicians for Music (AM-FM) Act, a new bill that would actually protect small and local broadcasters, while also benefitting musicians.
It’s time for radio to start worrying more about those who create their content instead of their stockholders and executives. If not, it may be your local station staff who are next to get let go.