iHeartRadio Just Replaced Hundreds of Human Workers With ‘Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI)’

iHeartRadio Denver
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iHeartRadio Denver
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iHeartRadio Denver (photo: Jeffrey Beall CC by 4.0)

Yesterday, we first reported on iHeartMedia’s mass layoff of employees nationwide.  Now, the company has explained why those people were let go.

We certainly hear a lot about machines replacing humans in the workforce. And there are certainly some in-your-face examples, like self-checkout aisles at supermarkets. But most of the threats feel like they’re in the distant future.

Unless you’re a laid-off iHeartMedia or iHeartRadio employee.

Yesterday, we first reported that iHeartMedia and its iHeartRadio unit were laying off a massive amount of employees, with potentially hundreds impacted. Initially, we reported that dozens were losing their jobs, but that number quickly increased. A source to Rolling Stone has since pegged the number of laid-off employees closer to 850, while a source to Billboard simply called the mass-layoff a ‘bloodbath’.

Radio publication All Access has named nearly 60 DJs out of work.

Now, iHeartMedia has released a press release trumpeting the move, while crediting its “significant investments in technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI).”

The statement was sent just hours after employees were sent packing.  “As it enters the new decade, iHeartMedia today announced a new organizational structure for its Markets Group as it modernizes the company to take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace,” the company declared.

In an internal memo sent to iHeartMedia and iHeartRadio employees, the company pointed to the “unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.”

The memo to staffers, sent by iHeart’s top executives, characterized the ‘dislocations’ as necessary for growth. “There will be some employee dislocation — some by geography and some by function — which is the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company,” the memo stated. The memo was signed by iHeartMedia CEO & Chairman Bob Pittman and President, COO, and CFO Rich Bressler.

In true dystopian fashion, the release also emphasized the ability of its technology improvements to help its employees.

But of course, that only matters if you weren’t just laid off.

“The company has made significant technology investments to change everything from how it sells advertising to how it utilizes data and builds new businesses like its digital platform, podcast platform and robust data platform – all of which have given it an undisputed leadership position in the audio world,” the release continues.  “Additionally, the company’s technological advancements increase its ability to support its employees and its customers through world class systems and innovation.”

In the company statement, Pittman reiterated the company’s embrace of technology, as well as the benefit to employees:  “We are now using our considerable investments in technology to modernize our operations and infrastructure, further setting us apart from traditional media companies; improving our services to our consumers and advertising partners; and enhancing the work environment for our employees.”



16 Responses

  1. David Rawlings

    When I die I want to come back as Bob Pittman and live the good life!

  2. ben

    OMG!! the AI disatser for humanity has already started.. what a mess!

    As sound engineer in a major EU radio network, I hope my company won’t follow the same path…

    bottom line, from 2020 “we’re gonna modernize” = “you’re gonna get fired”

    • Bill Thomas

      I think, if you really want to retaliate, all Radio and TV Engineers across the span, should, REFUSE, to work on any piece of gear owned by iHeart Media. Since Liberty is purchasing iHeart, maybe they’ll think twice about the Broadcasting workforce if they work against them. No, changing tubes, no repair or replacing circuit boards, No Nothing!

  3. Ted

    Company name should change to just “i” as there doesn’t seem to be a heart left in it.

  4. Gabs

    I heart radio has truly turned into a heartless machine. Taking the human element out of radio is senseless. Why is it always about the bottom line. Stop listening to heartless radio.

    • Linda Bretherton

      Yes I think that if everyone stopped listening to the station, then it would all have been in vain. Modern technology is good but not when iteradicates food away from families who have dedicated their time and labour into building iheart radio station into what it is ttoday. I would definitely not support this station

  5. In The Know

    The mass public will simply ‘Tune-Out’ FM Radio across the country. They want real people running the stations and over the air dialogue. There are plenty of alternatives now to listen to music. I find it hard to believe that AI can replace the current dynamics of real people on the air.

  6. Tom Hendricks

    For you who thought RADIO was not ROBOTIC ENOUGH, take HEART!
    The rest join the music revolution.

  7. Peter Hearne

    Music is not a statistic it requires an emotional response to succeed
    If AI Heart Radio is listening responding and distributing the music who is going to buy the advertising? Have you thought about that?

  8. Stephen Craig

    FM radio sucks anyway and Iheart is horrible, what they’re forgetting is very soon all new cars will have built in internet capabilities which will allow the end user to stream whatever platform they wish directly in their vehicles and iheart will be a afterthought.

  9. Anonymous

    As a fan of real radio with personalities and HUMANS this feels like the true end of an era. We are already isolated enough socially. Now we are like individual bots with no human interaction with our earbuds and headphones As a radio personality/contributor I hear first hand how people need on air humans to connect with and to connect us as a human community This is a sad trend

  10. Anonymous

    I can’t wait for the PRO’s to feel the bite of the a.i. Hammer.

  11. Tom Thumb’s morning breakfast

    When need a Pirate Radio revolt, the anti Pirate Bill is just another way for people like ”I (don’t have a) Heart Radio” to monopolise the FM band.

    American radio and the licensing regulatory system is so anti competitive and anti freedom for individuals to setup their own LPFM LPAM stations.

    Commercial radio is America is mostly horrible…