iHeartMedia employees face severe wave of job loss amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has already put a tremendous burden on the economy and, more precisely, on the music industry. The detrimental impacts cost more and more jobs to be lost, and iHeartMedia is no exception to the rule as it continues with layoffs, a critical step the company has taken earlier this year.

The American radio conglomerate implemented the furlough of “non-essential” employees on April 4, a decision that has been extended for an additional 90 days in June. It was also disclosed that the chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Bob Pittman, would forego his $23 million salary. In a statement, he said the following:

We moved quickly to respond to the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in order to mitigate some of the business impact and to better position ourselves to take advantage of an eventual recovery when normalized demand returns.

The company’s senior management team had to face a cut on their compensation between 30-70% for the remainder of the year. Additionally, long-term on-air personalities were dismissed, such as Cities 97.1 morning host Hunter Quinn and KDWB’s Steve “Steve-O” LaTart. Chief People Officer of iHeartMedia, Lorna Hagen, sent an email to the employees in April saying:

“As we’re sure you’ve read, the lockdown of businesses and communities across the country due to the COVID-19 virus and related restrictions has lasted far longer than anticipated and has had a significant impact on advertising revenue.”

However, job reductions are nothing new for the company. What they addressed as an “employee dislocation” was their solution to modernize and restructure its business from a traditional radio station with live radio DJs to a digital or streaming service run by AI.

With more than 850 live broadcast stations in 153 markets across the United States, iHeartMedia is one of the most dominant players in the media industry, so it will be worth looking at their Q3 financial report, which will be released on November 9.


Image Credit: Jeffrey Beall via Flickr | License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)