Largest US Broadcaster Cuts Local Radio Again

The largest radio conglomerate in the country, iHeartMedia, initiated a round of mass layoffs this week, cutting enough people that one former on-air host described Tuesday as “one of the worst days in on-air radio history.” The layoffs were concentrated in small and medium markets, where staffs had already been reduced, striking another major blow to local radio - according to an article in Rolling Stone magazine.

“We’ve gotten so far from local owners that radio is almost unrecognizable now,” said Karen Slade, vice president and general manager of the independently owned KJLH in Los Angeles, in a 2019 interview. “It’s dominated by massive corporate structures, and the communities that we need to service get lost in the shuffle between the giants.”

One former employee is quoted: “Any smaller to medium market in the country lost, in all likelihood, most, if not all, of their on-air staff. As far as the music stations go, there’s not a single local talent [left]."

iHeartMedia was able to wipe away much of its local presence thanks to a recent decision made by the Federal Communications Commission. In 2017, the FCC succeeded in getting rid of “the main studio rule,” meaning that stations were no longer required to maintain a studio or any staff near the location of their broadcast license.