Last week, iHeart Radio, owned by Bain Capital, remember Mitt Romney, and Thomas H. Lee Partners, furloughed a chunk of its staff, once again. It’s called a reduction in workforce. Let's just call it what it is, a big company laying off the everyday women and men that make its radio stations actually run.
iHeart Radio is so close to Chapter 11 Bankruptcy that it is teetering on the edge of a very tall cliff. So what does it do? It fires a bunch of people to save a few bucks, too stave off the end of its corporate life, but give multi-million contracts to some of their star personalities, including Bobby Bones, Elvis Duran and Ryan Seacrest.
Here's one thing I don't get. Ryan Seacrest is the new co-host, with Kelly Ripa, of Live with Kelly and Ryan. They are going to build him a radio studio where the television show originates, that is, in New York City. This way, he can record his voice tracks for his Los Angeles based radio show on KIIS-FM.
Loyal readers know that I am not a fan of voice tracking. Those shows can be downright boring, with no personality injected and no local time or weather. Voice tracking is vacuous radio.
Here’s the next surprise. Seacrest is once again going to host American Idol, on the ABC-TV Network, next season. Idol will film in Los Angeles. How is he going to be in New York and LA at the same time?
The answer is he won't. I'm sure he'll be missing a lot of time, from Live with Kelly and Ryan, once American Idol comes back. Live, yet again, will have a series of guest hosts filling in for the absent Seacrest.
I'm not a fan of the Live, but my wife likes it. I thought the best guest host they had was actor Jerry O'Connell. He was thoughtful and funny. He would have made a great permanent host, with Kelly, especially that he lacks all the baggage Seacrest brings.
Enough of Kelly Ripa, let's get back to the troubles at iHeart Radio. It is crumbling under huge mountains of debt and unless it can somehow refinance those billions of dollars, again, it is going to crumble. The iHeart Radio stock is worthless, now; no other radio company would or could take over iHeart.
The best thing iHeart can do is dump their small and medium market stations to operators such as Saga, Townsquare, Alpha and Beasley. Those companies are healthy enough to take on some fire sale debt, add worth and, hopefully, people to those stations.
Corporately, Saga, Townsquare, Alpha and Beasley seem to believe in live and local personalities from 6 am to midnight. Syndicated shows, wall-to-wall music and voice-tracked shows air after midnight.
What happens between midnight and 6 am if there is some sort of breaking news or disaster in the communities that those stations service? Not much, as the building is usually empty, during these hours. Maybe, if the Operations Manager or the Programme Director is awake, by some chance, for that disaster, she or he can get into the computer and switch to the all-news sister station or the local Emergency Broadcast Station, all from the warmth of their beds.
It's not easy to find a job in radio, anymore. I’m sure it ever was easy to find a job in radio. Moreover, the older you get, the harder it becomes to find radio work.
It's not usual for someone to be on the beach for a year before finding another radio gig. That new radio job often comes at the expense of someone losing that job. It's a viscous circle, which repeats.
Some of these women and men, just laid off, had been on the job for five or ten years when all of a sudden, poof! They're out of a job, hopefully, with a nice severance package to hold them over until they find their next job, if they do.
What needs to change at iHeart Radio are all the over payed managers at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, they forgot where they came from; that is, from the ranks of the people that they are firing. I believe that iHeart Radio needs a transplant, STAT.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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