WTOP Announces Newsroom Contract Buyouts
The contract buyouts are a Voluntary Separation Program for all full-time non-managerial staff
WTOP announced to staff on Tuesday that the company is offering contract buyouts to staffers who work in the newsroom for the station, website, or website development.
The contract buyouts are a Voluntary Separation Program for all full-time non-managerial staff and are not for the remainder of the station’s departments. Furthermore, they are for staffers 55 years or older and whose tenure with WTOP would add up to 65.
“During the pandemic, in DC and across the country in all Hubbard markets, there was downsizing. WTOP programming did not downsize. We hoped that the economy, radio listening in DC, radio listening at WTOP and our revenue would all come back close to 2019 levels. In 2021 we made some progress, but in 2022 both listening and revenue have gone backwards from 2021 levels, let alone where they were compared to 2019,” Senior Vice President and General Manager Joel Oxley said in a statement (h/t Radio Insight)
“In the past number of months we have reduced controllable costs wherever we were able to in marketing, outside vendors and not replacing personnel. We felt we needed to take this additional step of offering the Program to continue to try to be more in line with the current economic landscape, while giving eligible employees the opportunity to choose whether to accept the separation packages being offered in connection with the Program. Any eligible employee who elects to participate in the Program will receive the specific separation package offered to that employee, subject to the conditions identified in the Program.”
Along with announcing the buyouts, WTOP will also see Director of Content Integration and Operations, Craig Schwalb, leaving the radio station. Schwalb had been with the station since 2020. He had previously programmed WABC in New York, WPRO in Providence, WRBZ in Raleigh and had also worked for CBS Radio and SiriusXM.
WTOP has been one of radio’s top billing stations for years, so the news is likely to leave some in the news/talk radio industry concerned. Station Market Manager Joel Oxley just won the Marconi award for Legendary Radio Manager of the Year at last week’s NAB Show.
Eduardo Razo is the Assistant Content Editor for BNM, which includes writing daily news stories on the news media industry. He can be found on Twitter @eddierazo_ or you can reach him by email at email@example.com.
Dave Rubin: Twitter Spaces Glitches ‘Not A Big Deal’ During DeSantis Announcement
“Could they have done more so that it would’ve been a little smoother? Obviously. Are they trying something that’s a cutting-edge technology and there’s gonna be some bugs? Yeah.”
On the latest episode of his podcast, The Rubin Report, Dave Rubin weighed in on Ron DeSantis’ Twitter announcement, sharing his behind-the-scenes perspective.
Rubin has been an avid and early DeSantis supporter, advocating for his COVID policies and relocating to Florida during the pandemic. Rubin began the show by making it clear he does not take any money from the DeSantis campaign, he said, “I have never been nor would ever take a dime from the campaign, I will be very clear about that right now.”
Rubin went on to address his perspective on DeSantis’ decision to launch his presidential campaign on Twitter and the technical difficulties that started it off on a bumpy road.
“Now, I do want to address the Twitter Spaces thing because I was at Twitter, I was actually right outside Twitter as the space was going on listening on my earbuds and then I was upstairs at Twitter right after with Elon and a David Sacks in the group.
“There were some technical difficulties up top. It took them about 20 minutes. There were so many people flooding the system.”
Rubin advocated for DeSantis and minimized the issue in reference to the new ground he is attempting to break.
“Could they have done more so that it would’ve been a little smoother? Obviously. Are they trying something that’s a cutting-edge technology and there’s gonna be some bugs? Yeah. I don’t think it turned out to be a big deal.”
He then described the all-facts, no-show approach DeSantis is appearing to take, in contrast to Trump, “I think that’s what we’re getting from DeSantis right now. It’s like a serious person, like here’s what I’ve done, and what I will do, and here’s why I’m going to do it.”
Rubin also addressed the widespread speculation surrounding questions being screened for DeSantis prior to being asked in the Twitter Space, “I talked to Sacks after, and he 100% did not screen the questions. I was actually in there there’s a way that you can sort of signal that you wanna ask a question.”
Maddy Troy serves as a writer and editor for Barrett News Media, with a specific focus on media business, advertising, and podcasting. You can find her on Twitter @Troy_Maddy.
Nick Kayal: There’s A Battle Brewing Between Fox News and MSNBC
“I’d love to be in one of those meetings where they say ‘Ok, how do we balance — we wanna make more money, but I’d love to have 2.7 million viewers and not 1.6 (million).”
Fox News has been subject to a ratings dip after it unceremoniously fired Tucker Carlson late last month. 1210 WPHT morning host Nick Kayal noted there’s a fight brewing between the network and MSNBC.
“This is interesting with Fox News. Now, it’s still early, so I’m not going to say ‘Oh my God, Fox News is dead. Bury ’em, they’re gone, forget about ’em’, but MSNBC is beating Fox in last week’s ratings,” the Kayal & Company host said Friday. “They’re beating them in many different demos and dayparts. And not just at night. Morning Joe beat FOX & Friends by almost 100,000 viewers…Sean Hannity gets crushed by Rachel Maddow, and Laurence O’Donnell is beating Laura Ingraham.
“So, if I’m Fox, and I’m looking at my primetime ratings right now, Hannity is losing to MSNBC, Ingraham is losing to MSNBC, I’m beating MSNBC with a bunch of rotating fill-in dudes, and gals. The only thing I feel good about is Jesse Watters at 7:00 PM ET, is doubling up Joy Reid. I feel good about 8:00 PM ET. I have no consistency in that spot, and it’s still beating MSNBC in that 8 o’clock spot.
“And we gave you that story about how a lot advertisers coming back to Fox in that 8 o’clock spot, because Tucker Carlson wasn’t deemed to be advertiser-friendly ’cause he had the most stones to say stuff that others won’t say and go into topics others won’t go into.”
Kayal then noted that the network could be pulled in two directions due to an increased revenue but a decrease in total audience.
“It’s interesting because if you think about the balance, you’re making more money, but you’re not getting as many eyeballs. I’d love to be in one of those meetings where they say ‘Ok, how do we balance — we wanna make more money, but I’d love to have 2.7 million viewers and not 1.6 (million). Very interesting dynamic. MSNBC has picked up in some other spots, not named the Tucker Carlson spot. I don’t know if that has sustainability or lasting power. But it seems there’s a little bit of a battle between Fox and MSNBC.”
Mark Arum: Less Than 10% Of Our Audience Listens on AM Radio
“The decline of AM radio listenership has been substantial.”
The potential demise of AM radio has been a hot-button issue in news radio circles, despite a recent victory with Ford announcing it would resume placing the band back into its 2024 models. 95.5 WSB host Mark Arum noted that while AM radio has been an important part of the station’s past, it doesn’t hold much weight in 2023.
“WSB Radio is 101 years old. You’ve heard amazing stuff on AM 750 throughout the years,” Arum said, as the station played the clip of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.
“So many amazing and historical moments happened on AM 750. Now, I know the majority of you are probably listening to the FM stream at 95.5 online or on the app. There’s a million ways to do it. The decline of AM radio listenership has been substantial. I believe, at last check, less than 10% of our listeners listen on our AM signal. The future of AM radio has been in doubt,” Arum said.
“I am an unabashed lover of AM radio. I used to listen with a little transistor radio underneath the covers. I’ve been fearful of the future of AM radio.”
Jeffery Gilbert of Newsradio WWJ 950 in Detroit joined Arum to discuss the situation, and when asked if the move to remove AM radio from vehicles was a political one, he said that was a shortsighted view.
“I think it’s a money issue, not a political issue. Because carmakers are always looking for every cost advantage they can get. It’s why you don’t see CD players in vehicles anymore. They cost money, they add weight, and people don’t want them anymore. I think Ford was getting a little ahead of everybody else, feeling that AM radio was something like that, that it was something they could get rid of easily…Quite frankly, until we as broadcasters give people a lot more on AM, it’s going to continue to be an issue.”