Entercom today enacted widespread layoffs at its country and alternative radio stations as part of a new programming strategy that involves expanded use of its top air talent and programmers. What the company calls “an innovation venture” has resulted in numerous on-air hosts and programmers being let go in both formats in favor of more in-house produced national and voice-tracked content.
CEO David Field said the changes stem from challenging Entercom’s top programmers to apply “fresh thinking” to provide the best content experience for listeners while taking advantage of the company’s full arsenal of resources.
All of the company’s 21 country stations will air new national, Entercom-produced shows in middays and nights. At alternative, the company’s top shows are being expanded to other markets, resulting in fewer locally-based hosts, while a new national show will be heard in nights.
“As we make the necessary changes to best serve our listeners and customers, it is difficult to part ways with members of our team who have made significant contributions to our company over the years,” Field said in a memo to employees. “We are grateful to them for their service.” The company would not disclose how many employees are being let go as part of the new approach.
The new programming strategies are the result of a task force formed this summer that included Mike Kaplan, Senior VP, Alternative Format Captain/Brand Manager; Michael Martin, Senior VP, Programming, Head of Music Initiatives; and Tim Roberts, VP, Country Format Captain. Their mandate was to “reimagine our programming strategies in Country and Alternative,” Field said. “We encouraged them to take full advantage of our outstanding breadth of premium audio content and other capabilities to deliver the best possible listening experience for our audiences.”
Shared Programming at Alternative
At alternative, KROQ’s “Stryker and Klein” morning show will now also be heard in San Francisco, Dallas and Kansas City. The “Church Of Lazlo” afternoon show from “The Buzz” KRBZ Kansas City will also air in Las Vegas and Dallas. The “Cane & Corey” morning show from “Alt 92.3” WNYL New York will be heard in Miami, Orlando, Buffalo and Baltimore. And the “Dave and Mahoney” morning show from “X 107.5” KXTE Las Vegas will also air in San Diego. WNYL night jock Kevan Kenney will host a national night show from 7pm-midnight across the 15 alternative stations. Some dayparts will retain local hosts.
“This is not a one-size-fits all, cut-and-paste strategy,” Martin said. Talent are being placed on stations “where we feel they thread the best or have a connection with the market.” For example, Kevin Klein from “Stryker and Klein” has a radio history in San Francisco.
As part of what the company says is a commitment to putting the listener first, the “Two-Minute Promise,” which keeps spot breaks to no more than two minutes, is being expanded to all its alternative stations.
National Midday and Night Shows At Country
Meanwhile, all of the company’s 21 country radio stations will carry national shows in middays and nights. Katie Neal from WNSH New York will anchor middays across the platform. A “Superstar Power Hour” will be part of the midday block, featuring a different music artist as co-host for a week, starting next week with Luke Bryan.
Having big name artists as co-hosts will “drive a better listener experience through contact with the artists they love on a daily basis,” said Roberts. The ACM Award winning duo of Rob Stone and Holy Hutton from WYCD Detroit will host nights across the 21 stations.
Roberts said the country stations will “continue to have a live and local presence in morning drive” and that afternoons will have either a regional host or a local talent.
The company says its alternative and country stations will “still be live and in the moment” and the talent won’t hide the fact that they are broadcasting from New York or L.A. or another non-local market. “As we learned from our current environment, you can be broadcasting remotely from anywhere and still delivering a superior product and relating to local communities,” Kaplan said. Talent will work with local staff to “make sure we’re connected to the pulse of the community,” Kaplan added.
Martin said the new strategy isn’t a “nationalization” and that each station will still program a unique music mix based on local research and tastes and carry its own station imaging and local content pieces.
Both formats will also carry in-house produced specialty shows, developed in tandem with artists, labels and managers that can be sold to clients on a national basis.
Field also said that Entercom is aligning and unifying its national sales teams “to make it easier for clients to do business with us while creating more flexibility for national client integration with our brands – locally and at scale across our platform.”