Layoffs Leave iHeartRadio Listeners In A Culture Wave Shock
- iHeartRadio has laid off several employees impacting hip hop DJs
- Black audiences are more likely than the general population at 27 percent to visit a radio station’s website
A seismic shift in the broadcasting industry that saw consumers transition from traditional AM/FM airwaves to streaming platforms has left iHeartRadio feeling the pinch. The radio conglomerate owned by iHeartMedia (IHRT +0.51 percent) has laid off several employees impacting hip hop DJs, in its efforts to direct cash flow to more profitable platforms and apps. Removing local talent from the airwaves means less representation of culture and content that matters to marginalized audiences.
Why This Matters: iHeartRadio has cited the move as necessary to develop resources and technology that better serves its listeners; however it could be too little, too late. Especially when you consider that local hip hop radio DJs have been affected by the staffing culls, including D’Edwin “Big Kiosh”, who catered to “mid-major markets” such as Ohio and Richmond. When it comes to music artists and news commentators who would not normally be given the opportunity to achieve exposure on national radio, this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s important to note that 31 million African-Americans listen to the radio everyday, therefore downsizing the number of shows that appeal to this market, programming that is rooted in relevance to the local community, would be detrimental to iHeartRadio’s endgame.
It’s important to note that 31 million African-Americans listen to the radio everyday
Black audiences are more likely than the general population at 27 percent to visit a radio station’s website due to the radio personality, which makes it even more of a risky move. Previously, Apple (AAPL +2.37 percent) was reported to be considering investing in iHeartRadio, when the firm sought to buy an equity stake in the millions of dollars range, to rescue them from the brink of bankruptcy. This move would have cut its debts from $16 billion to $6 billion. Losing audiences will not help its case for future investment opportunities.
This month, the first U.S. Black News Channel launched to cater to Black audiences, covering culturally specific news to break Black stereotypes, and this ethos will no doubt extend to radio and inspire iHeartRadio competitors Liberty Media or Townsquare Media to fill in the gaps. By relying on generic, automated programming to entertain regional communities, the “human” connections iHeartRadio made with listeners through its on-air personalities will forever be lost.
Situational Awareness: iHeartRadio will find it challenging to hold onto its claims of being “the #1 audio company in America” with the decreasing lack of focus on regional radio. The reshuffling of on-air talent, producers and management is a big bet attempt to create ground-breaking platforms that catch-up to other big players in the market.
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