As first reported by Inside Radio, Urban One has mandated COVID-19 vaccines for its employees. But while Cumulus Media, which got the vaccine mandate rolling at radio, has taken a hard and fast no exceptions approach, Urban One is showing some modest leeway for employees who have certain medical conditions or religious beliefs that would preclude them from getting inoculated.
“As we implement our mandatory vaccination policy, we will follow the law, and where possible, we will make reasonable accommodations for those with medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs,” Karen Wishart, Urban One’s Executive VP & Chief Administrative Officer, said in a statement provided to Inside Radio.
That stands in sharp contrast to the policy communicated to employees at Cumulus Media last week by CEO Mary Berner. “Exceptions to the return to office plan will not be considered except as legally required,” she said in a message to employees. “It would neither be fair nor do we have bandwidth to make exceptions based on individual preferences.”
The goal with both companies is to keep employees, their families and the communities in which they live, healthy and safe. “Urban One is committed to the safety and well-being of all our employees, their families, and the communities we serve,” Wishart said in the statement. “We did not make this decision lightly, but we felt we had to act given the rapid spread of the Delta variant and scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations help protect against serious illness.”
As Inside Radio reported earlier, Urban One is currently in phase one of its return-to-work plan, with 25% of employees already back in the office. Most of them are essential workers who have been back to work on a full or part-time basis throughout the pandemic. Urban One employees who have already returned to work who are not vaccinated will be required to test weekly until they have been fully vaccinated.
While no other radio companies have publicly announced vaccine mandates for employees, the issue is a top concern among industry conference organizers. On Tuesday the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced that CES 2022 will require in-person attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. CES 2022 will take place in Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022. And on Monday, the National Association of Broadcasters emailed a survey soliciting input from NAB Show attendees and prospects on what requirements the trade group should take to protect the health of attendees. Survey questions revolved around possible vaccine mandates, proof of a negative COVID test and mask wearing policies.
The latest actions come as the surge of the highly contagious Delta variant is forcing Americans to recalibrate their activities. According to the New York Times, more than twice as many new cases are being reported nationally compared with last August and hospitalizations have reached their highest levels since winter.