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Entercom Announces Nationwide Layoffs, Pay Cuts

“Staffs are being trimmed, and full-time employees earning over $50K annually are taking 10-20% pay cuts.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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WFAN also lost its digital managing editor. Ryan Chatelain confirmed on Twitter that he was out of work.

https://twitter.com/ryanchatelain/status/1245837388208730114?s=21

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.

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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.

Sports Radio News

Mike and The Mad Dog Reunion Set For First Take on February 1

“I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that.”

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It’s not a rumor or a wishful thought anymore. According to Chris Russo, we are getting the long-awaited Mike and the Mad Dog reunion. Russo and Stephen A. Smith will be joined by Mike Francesa for the entire two hours of First Take on February 1.

Russo made the announcement on his SiriusXM show Thursday afternoon. It is possible that it was a mistake though.

“Did anybody catch the reunion we’re going to have on February 1?” he said. “Did everybody see that? Stevie did say it on Howard, didn’t he?”

Stephen A. Smith told Howard Stern earlier this week that he intends to reunite Mike and the Mad Dog, but he did not set an official date. Chris Russo acknowledged that he may not have been authorized to say it yet either, but now that the cat was out of the bag, he gave more details.

“It sounds like the big guy will return and we’ll have the three of us in there,” he told the audience. “I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that. You talk about me being a fraud, Mike hated ESPN for 100 years!”

If Russo is correct, that means no rotating analysts and no Molly Qerim. If the goal is to give the audience more Mike and the Mad Dog, then ESPN is making sure nothing gets in the way.

An interesting question now is what is Stephen A. Smith’s role in the reunion. He likely played a pivotal role in closing the deal to get Francesa on ESPN for a day, but what will he do on camera on February 1?

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Sports Radio News

Shan & RJ Defend GBag Nation After Christian McCaffrey Comments

“Somewhere we lost the ability to know what irreverence sounds like.”

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It’s no secret that San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has been injury prone during his NFL career. 105.3 The Fan’s GBag Nation said it would benefit the Cowboys for McCaffrey to come down with an injury ahead of the team’s NFC Divisional Round playoff matchup this week, and that message wasn’t well received by 49er fans.

A Twitter user –calling the comments “pathetic” — captured a 15-second clip of the show discussing McCaffrey, in which hosts Gavin Dawson and Bryan Broaddus said “We could use an injury, we really could” followed by saying “a hamstring would be good”. The clip has since garnered nearly 50,000 views.

On Thursday, Shan Shariff of Shan & RJ defended his colleagues by calling out 49er fans.

“Want another example of how soft and whiney these Bay Area fans are? Check out the complete meltdowns and crying over @gbagnation joking about Christian McCaffrey. Charles Barkley was right about everything he’s every said about your city and fans”, before tagging 95.7 The Game –sister station of 105.3 The Fan — and that station’s morning host Bonta Hill.

RJ Choppy, Shariff’s partner on the 105.3 The Fan morning show, continued the defense of the station’s afternoon show. He believed the comments from the show were sarcastic in nature.

“I would say I’m surprised that people are unable to pick up on the clear sarcasm” of the two hosts, before saying “but I’m not. Somewhere we lost the ability to know what irreverence sounds like”.

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Sports Radio News

Colin Dunlap: Coaches Will Never Eliminate Sideline Interviews From TV Contracts

“They absolutely could resist with the TV rights deals and say ‘we’re just not doing it,’ but they know part of their bread is buttered by having that access.”

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Melissa Stark’s sideline interview with Ravens coach John Harbaugh during the team’s Super Wild Card Round loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week has received plenty of attention. Harbaugh was less than pleased with being asked what it would take to change quarterbacks.

Erin Andrews addressed interactions with players and athletes like that on Calm Down, the podcast she co-hosts with Charissa Thompson. While Andrews never mentioned Stark by name in her profanity-laced rant, she did say that coaches and players know when someone is trying to make a name for themselves.

“You don’t have to be an asshole,” the FOX Sports sideline reporter said. “How about this? Stop trying to make a name for yourself or be clickbait with these questions that tie these guys down or put them in a bind where you want to be the person in the press conference. Don’t do that. They’re not animals. They’re not pieces of meat.”

On Thursday’s edition of The Fan Morning Show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, Chris Mack objected to the idea that the interview was Stark trying to get attention.

“Melissa Stark has been doing this for years and I think is pretty good at it and I think those questions were all fair,” he said.

Co-host Dorin Dickerson saw it a little differently. In addition to his role on The Fan Morning Show, Dickerson is also a sideline reporter for the Pitt Panthers’ football radio network. He did not think Stark respected the reality of sideline interviews.

“What Melissa Stark did there, she was prying too much,” he said. “You know that you’re gonna get the run-of-the-mill answers when you ask a coach. The last thing a coach wants to do is talk to you after a bad first half.”

Colin Dunlap added that sideline interviews have value but are not necessary. He said that he enjoyed having access to coaches in the middle of a game, however, coaches could make a point of eliminating sideline interviews from future NFL TV contracts if they are a real problem. He doesn’t expect that would ever happen though.

“They could resist. They absolutely could resist with the TV rights deals and say ‘we’re just not doing it,’ but they know part of their bread is buttered by having that access. That’s built into the television contract.”

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