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iHeart Restructuring, Departures

The nuts and bolts of iHeartMedia restructuring and how it affects Country is becoming clear as the day progresses. Officially, the company has detailed its new operating approach – more on that below. Unofficially, widespread layoffs appear to be underway, with on-air lineup portions of station websites having been wiped clean of personality names and schedules. 

Among the early confirmed departures are Baltimore SVPP & WPOC PD Mike Preston; KAJA & KRPT/San Antonio APD/MD/on-air personality and KASE & KVET/Austin APD/MD/on-air personality Bree Wagner; Little Rock SVPP/OM, KSSN PD and iHeartCountry Brand Coordinator Chad Heritage; WSIX/Nashville and iHeart Custom afternoon personalities Tige & Daniel; and KKXY/Oklahoma City PD/personality, KTST MD/personality and 26-year company vet Bill Reed. Other affected staffers can share personal contact info via Country Aircheck's ongoing coverage by sending it here.

Preston joined the company in in 2017 (CAT 12/4/17) following time with KKWF/Seattle, CBS Radio/San Francisco & Seattle and Hot AC WPLJ/New York. Reach him here. Wagner joined KAJA in 2001 as a part-time promotions assistant, rising in San Antonio in 2014 and adding duties for Austin in 2016 (CAT 5/6/16). Reach her here. Heritage was named KSSN PD in 2002, rising to OM in 2008 (CAT 9/5/08); he was named to the Brand Management team in 2011 (CAT 11/3/11); reach him here. Tige & Daniel joined WSIX in 2015 (CAT 1/5/15) after stops at WGTY/Myrtle Beach, SC and WTQR/Greensboro; reach Tige Rodgers here and Daniel Baker here.

Touting its transition from traditional media to a "21st century media company," iHeart's restructuring is primarily in three areas. The Markets Group, continuing to be led by Greg Ashlock, is now broken into three divisions. The Region Division encompasses iHeart's largest markets including New York and Los Angeles, led by Division Presidents Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck. The Metro Division of large markets is under the direction of Division Presidents Tom McConnellTony Coles and Linda Byrd. And the Community Division, which will group markets into geographic or culturally similar areas where local advertising dominates, led by Shosh AbromovichNick Gnau and Dan Lankford

Concurrently, Julie Donohue rises to President of the new Multi-Market Partnerships Division, which will work across the aforementioned divisions to empower sales teams. The Integrated Revenue Strategies Group has been merged into the Markets Group, with Hartley Atkins named COO working with Ashlock. 

The second initiative is creating Centers of Excellence, intended to consolidate functional expertise in specific locations, with the previously announced digital center in Nashville as an example. Finally, as "people are our company's most important asset," the company has pledged major steps toward board and employment diversity, with details to unfold over the year.

Regarding the layoffs, an internal memo signed by Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman and President/COO Rich Bressler refers to them as "the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company. We have had to make some tough decisions, and in the process some employees have been affected. Please know we were thoughtful in this process and have provided enhanced severance benefits as well as outplacement assistance for any impacted employees, and we want to thank them for the valuable contributions they have made."

Read the full press release here.