Entercom joined the growing list of radio companies that have made significant cuts in expenses during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Radio and Television Business Report, Entercom’s President and CEO sent an internal memo to staffers on Thursday morning announcing that many employees were being either laid off or furloughed.
“We are fortunate to work in an industry that plays such an important role in our country at a time of crisis, providing a critically important and trusted local voice for news and information as well as entertainment, companionship and respite during these uncertain times,” Field wrote.
But that important role isn’t enough to save a lot of people’s paychecks. Field called the moves “deeply painful” and “necessary under the circumstances.”
In an internal memo obtained by Radio Insight, Field justified the cuts by pointing out “This is having a very large impact on advertising revenues. We must take hard but necessary actions to ensure that we endure the crisis and emerge as a strong, healthy and competitive company.”
Entercom is also forcing all full-time employees earning over $50,000 annually to take 10% or 20% pay cuts. Field will take a 30% pay cut himself, making him the latest radio company executive to forego part of his own salary in solidarity with his staff. Previously, Beasley Media Group announced that Caroline Beasley would take a 20% pay cut. iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman will give up his salary for the remainder of the year.
Among the affected by the layoffs are two sports radio hosts in Milwaukee. Afternoon host Bill Schmid, who had worked on The Big Show with Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer, Leroy Butler and Gary Ellerson has been let go. He confirmed his departure via Twitter.
Longtime host Chuck Freimund who spent over a decade with 105.7 The Fan and had been teaming with Bart Winkler in mornings was also let go. He also shared the news of his exit on Twitter.
On a positive note, Freimund returned to social media two hours later and shared that he’ll have positive news to share soon. It appears that 97.3 The Game in Milwaukee has been in touch about adding him to their operation.
The layoffs also impacted Julie DiCaro in Chicago. She confirmed on Twitter that her position at 670 The Score has been eliminated.
DiCaro isn’t the only Score staffer effected. Midday co-host Connor McKnight confirmed on Twitter that his position was eliminated. The show’s producer Rick Camp says he was also let go. So too was longtime reporter and host David Schuster, and weekend host Maggie Hendricks.
In Detroit, 97.1 The Ticket parted ways with longtime host Dennis Fithian and update anchor Ryan Wooley.
The cuts impacted two notable programmers too. 92.9 The Game PD Terry Foxx, who was voted the 15th best programmer in sports radio as part of the BSM Top 20 of 2019, and helped build Atlanta’s sports station into a ratings winner after doing the same in Pittsburgh at 93.7 The Fan was a victim of the company wide layoffs.
The second programmer impacted was in Sacramento where ESPN 1320 PD Brian Lopez, who also programmed 96.9 The Eagle was laid off. Lopez had been with the company for 27 years.
Longtime update anchor and host Joe Altamonte had his tenure come to an end in Philadelphia. Altamonte spent 22 years contributing to SportsRadio 94WIP and KYW Newsradio.
Also in Philadelphia, longtime anchor and weekend host Rob Charry was let go after three decades with the station. So too was anchor Sue Schilling. The news was first reported by Crossing Broad.
A little further south in Charlotte, WFNZ lost a pair of producers and on-air contributors. Wilson & Parcell’s producer Ryan Chell and Kyle Bailey’s producer Julian Council confirmed they had both been let go.
One sports station that Entercom has tried to avoid hitting with cutbacks is WFAN. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post tweeted that the company has made keeping the station in tact a priority.
However, longtime update anchor John Minko is exiting the station. ‘The Mink Man’ who has been a part of The Fan since July 1987, accepted a contract buyout. He’ll continue to call St. Johns University games.
Longtime update anchor Harris Allen chose to follow Minko out the door, announcing his retirement from WFAN as well. Allen had been with the station since 2006.
WFAN also lost its digital managing editor. Ryan Chatelain confirmed on Twitter that he was out of work.
According to a report from Marchand, Entercom asked Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti to take 20% pay cuts and forgo bonuses through near the end of July. Station employees making $100,000 to $250,000 will be asked to take a 15% reduction in pay. Those in the $50,000 to $100,000 range will be asked to give up 10%.
WFAN and the CBS Sports Radio network already had their lineups altered on the weekends. Full-time staffers from both outlets are pulling Saturday and Sunday shifts. That includes Francesa. The weekend lineup is being simulcast across both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio.
In Houston, producer Brian McDonald confirmed he was laid off from his job at Sports Radio 610. McDonald had worked for the station for 6 years.
BSM also learned that Zack Duarte, Trevor Murray and Kevin Rogers were affected by the Entercom layoffs in Miami. They had contributed to 790 The Ticket/560 The Joe (WQAM), both owned locally by Entercom.
In San Francisco, KCBS Sports Reporter Joe Salvatore was notified of his release. Salvatore spent two decades working for the legendary station.
Buffalo sports station WGR lost Sabres reporter Paul Hamilton. Radio.com Sports took a hit as well with producer Joey Gelman being let go.
As more details become available we’ll continue to update this story so be sure to check back.
Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo Returns With New Season of ‘Digging Up The Past’ Podcast
This season of Russo’s podcast focuses on great MLB teams that fell short.
Few people in sports media love Major League Baseball like Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, and that love just got a new avenue for expression from Sirius XM. Russo will return to the podcasting arena for a second season, hosting a 10-part podcast series on what he believes are the ten best major league teams that didn’t win the World Series.
Digging Up The Past, Russo’s podcast series, will launch a brand new season with full deep dive episodes for every one of these teams, starting with the 1954 Cleveland Indians, which is available now. Russo and specific guests discuss the magic those teams created throughout the season and what ultimately felled their chances of lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy when it was all said and done.
The show is scheduled to debut episodes on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the coming weeks as the baseball season ramps up for the October playoff push.
The trailer for the series says, “Throughout the decades, Major League Baseball has produced several great teams that fell short of winning the World Series for numerous reasons. Some were taken down by improbable heroes, or hall of fame talent. While others suffered the indignity of bizarre occurrences and self-inflicted wounds. Join Christopher as he tells the tales of these gut-wrenching collapses and heartbreaking losses in a way that only he can.”
The other nine teams slated to be on the show are as follows: 2001 Mariners, 1969 Cubs, 1991 Pirates, 1965 Twins, 1995 Indians, 1978 Red Sox, 1994 Expos, 1977 Royals, and the 1993 Giants. Every one of these tales is available for listening over the coming months on most major podcast platforms.
Study: Easier To Reach Sports Bettors Through Radio Than TV
The study was conducted in Michigan this past winter and then expanded nationwide in the spring.
Westwood One and Cumulus Media have crunched the numbers on reaching sports bettors and found some interesting data.
The company discovered that sports bettors are more reachable through AM/FM radio advertising than television advertising. The study began in Michigan this past February and expanded into all 12 fully legal gambling states in April.
Westwood One commissioned the study from MARU/Matchbox, which surveyed 718 adults over 21 years old in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The study discovered that 71% of adults 21+ are aware sports betting is legal in their state. When the surveyors asked study participants how likely they are to place a legal wager, 23% of adults 21+ said they are very or somewhat interested in online sports betting.
The numbers tailed off the older the participants got. Around half of the adults, 21-34, say they would be interested. Interest drops to 30% amongst adults 35-54. For people 55 and older, there isn’t much interest in online sports betting.
When looking at gender specifically, twice as many men (32%) versus women (15%) say they would be interested in online sports betting.
Advertising is paying off for the brands willing to go all in, namely DraftKings and Fanduel, who have strong brand recognition in this study. Participants selected any sports betting websites they have heard advertising from in the prior month, and those brands dominated.
Among participants, 36% recognized DraftKings, and 32% recognized Fanduel. The next closest brand was BetMGM at 15%, followed by Bet Rivers and William Hill at 8% and 6%.
Every small study can be taken with a grain of salt, but these numbers show that the best way to reach sports bettors is through radio advertising. In a time where money is pouring in left and right from sports gambling, this is welcome data for station managers across the country.
Dan Patrick Appreciates Radio Success More Than ESPN Tenure
“I just kept thinking let me look at what I’m doing wrong instead of what I’m doing right. I really missed an opportunity to just sit back and enjoy it.”
If you watched ESPN from 1990 to about 2007, Dan Patrick’s face is one you most likely saw often on an 11 PM ET edition of SportsCenter. While it seemed like Dan Patrick was having fun hosting SportsCenter with Keith Olbermann, that wasn’t always the case.
Patrick was the guest on a recent episode of The Ryen Russillo Podcast and talked about many different topics. When Russillo asked Patrick what he would consider the best work he has ever done, Patrick had a tough time answering the question and he was more focused on mistakes than the great work he was doing.
“Even when Olberman and I were doing SportsCenter and we were at the top of our game, I just kept thinking let me look at what I’m doing wrong instead of what I’m doing right. I really missed an opportunity to just sit back and enjoy it,” he said.
Although Olberman and Patrick were the faces of ESPN during the early and mid 90s, the SportsCenter legend said there was a time when he thought they would be fired.
“We were dressed down one time and it was really bad because management, I think, thought we were full of ourselves and we might have been. I thought I was going to get fired. To think I had just won a Sports Emmy, I was feeling pretty good. There was talk that Keith and I would host SNL. We’re thinking they got to love us, they didn’t. They worried we were going to be out of control. I think that led to the breaking point with Keith. I tell people Keith is the best teammate you could ever ask for.”
Dan Patrick is more proud of the success he has now with his radio show compared to when he was on SportsCenter. He says that is largely because of how the show was built from the ground up.
“I had guys who I had worked with at ESPN and I asked them to take a leap of faith. We had 12 radio affiliates. I didn’t have any TV partner. I had nothing. We were doing the show in my attic and those guys gave up their jobs at ESPN and they joined me. I didn’t know what I had, but I knew what we could be.”
DP reflected on the growth of the show. He told Russillo that he feels lucky that there was immediate interest from a major market. That emboldened him to make bigger moves that turned the show into the go-to model for radio/TV simulcasts.
“I truly believe if I don’t get on KLAC in Los Angeles, I don’t know if we are anywhere near the success that we are. That helped save me. We were going bankrupt and I told Paulie, my producer, “dude, we’re in trouble”.
“I couldn’t let these guys down. I walked out to the parking lot and I cold-called DirecTV and I called Chris Long (former programming director). I don’t know why I called DirecTV. I just thought they carry sports, but they don’t have any name attached to it. To do that and build this to where it is today, we did that on our own.”
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