iHeart Layoffs are the New Broadcast Norm, What It Means for Voice Actors.

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Bad Guys, Compensation, New Paradigms

Face it…humans are just an unnecessary expense in today’s corporate environnment…except the CEO’s and important officers, of course.

When iHeartMedia laid off an estimated one thousand employees nationwide last week, they spun it as “maximizing performance”, “unique scale”, and “expertise in consumers”.  There was more tripe in their press release, but it was all justification for making huge cuts in human capital.

Nothing new here.  Move along now. 

Growing up in the St. Louis radio market, I was inspired by morning DJ’s, radio newsmen, and the antics of “ChickenMan”…and that was AM Radio!  

When FM came along, with the likes of WolfMan Jack, and Shotgun Kelley, celebrities took over the airwaves, and listeners loved it.

Today, it’s all about bean-counters, hubbing traffic operations, centralizing HR & management, and automating EVERYTHING. 

Like I said, humans are just too darned expensive to allow then to have jobs anymore.  Get ’em out of there!

What does this mean to voice actors?  Hey, if iHeartMedia – arguably one of the largest broadcast media companies in the world — can’t afford its own staffers and announcers, then they sure as heck are not going to pay a decent rate for freelance work to keep them afloat.

This is the further degradation of broadcast media (and I include TV in this corporate assessment of the marketplace), as a legitimate and consistent source of income. There are exceptions, of course, but iHeart’s move further drives a stake in the soul of a once proud medium.

But beyond that…as consumers, as listeners, as those who enjoyed the creativity of human expression in the airwaves…we’re being cheated.  Taking the human out of broadcast programming takes radio to the same level of synthetic voices or robots on the assembly line…no…worse.

It’s predictable, of course.  Shareholders demand a return on their investment.  Boards of Director must make decisions that keep a company afloat.  CEO’s and Presidents have expensive mortgages and their pride/ego to uphold.  What does it matter if a handful of “jocks” lose their jobs in Omaha, Baton Rouge, or Decatur?

One man’s blog crying in the wilderness will not make much of a difference, I’m afraid.  But knowing that this is the way global market forces are changing our voice over industry is the first step in protecting yourself for the future.

New revenue streams ARE presenting:  lots of digital streaming channels, YouTube pre-rolls, eLearning, corporate opportunities. 

Take heart…a voice actor with a good sense of chutzpah and hustle will do well, of course.

Out with old paradigms, in with the new.

Will you be agile enough to adjust?






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