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iHeartMedia Cuts Engineers Across The Country As It Begins Rolling Out New Tech Initiatives
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    Default iHeartMedia Cuts Engineers Across The Country As It Begins Rolling Out New Tech Initiatives

    From Radio Insight:

    iHeartMedia instituted a round of cuts today focusing on engineering departments at its broadcast operations.
    The cuts come as the company continues to implement operational changes that began in the wake of the widescale cuts of January 2020. As the company stated in Thursday’s annual earnings report:
    “In January 2020, iHeartMedia announced key modernization initiatives designed to take advantage of the significant investments that the Company has made in new technologies to build an improved operating infrastructure to upgrade products and deliver incremental cost efficiencies. This modernization is a multi-pronged set of strategic initiatives that we believe positions the Company for sustainable long-term growth, margin expansion, and value creation for shareholders. As targeted, our investments in modernization delivered approximately $50 million of in-year savings in 2020, and we remain on track to deliver annualized run-rate cost savings of approximately $100 million by mid-year 2021.”
    Many of these operations initiatives are beginning to be implemented and will continue to do so over the course of this year. Over the course of 2020, iHeartMedia’s real estate team earmarked studio facilities that can eliminate some of its space or be moved to smaller and cheaper locations. With less staff and the pandemic showing that many employees can work remotely, the new locations will be built with that in mind. The days of a dedicated studio for a specific station will be replaced by rooms that can be used by any station anywhere in the company. That style was implemented at the corporate offices in San Antonio a few years ago.
    These smaller studios will also have much less equipment as iHeart moves most broadcast operations into a cloud based platform built off of subsidiary RCS’ Zetta automation system. One server installed at the transmitter site will take away many functions currently filling up racks in the studios. Dubbed internally as SoundPlus, the system will allow any on-air talent to broadcast through their personal laptop or tablet from anywhere at any time.
    The company has been installing remote control systems at its studios and towers to enable monitoring of all their facilities. A Network Operations Center in Cincinnati will serve as home to a dispatch center of sorts notifying the company’s remaining engineer or contract engineers when something needs to be repaired onsite. Otherwise the company’s NOC and IT hubs will handle the issues remotely.
    iHeartMedia began implementing a regional hub and spoke system in recent years with engineers mostly shared between markets. Some made geographic sense like all of the company’s markets on the I-25 corridor in Colorado and Wyoming, or those in Upstate New York. Others like Las Vegas, Riverside/San Bernardino and San Diego were many hours apart. To help assist after the first round of cuts last January, the company created “Tiger Teams” to travel to other markets to help handle major issues and during emergencies such as natural disasters.
    The cuts that started today will see some engineers immediately brought back on a contract basis as we heard took place in at least one PPM market where they already were the only local engineer. They will now also assist with a few neighboring markets in a similar basis.
    Many of these operations initiatives are still in the build-out phase, plans are to have them fully in place by later this year. Many of these markets are planning on being in their new facilities by this fall.




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