Radio Layoffs: WHAT HAPPENED!?
Updated: Jan 17
That is the million dollar question a lot of people are asking. My years at the company can be a source of information, however it may not tell the whole story. Note that for the last 6 years I have been on weekends only, so I come in when everyone else is not in the office. Also, THESE opinions are MINE and do not represent HNN, UH or any other entity I have done work with.
[NEWS] On January 6, 2022, Summit Media Hawaii laid off more than 20 employees from four radio stations consisting of Hawaiian 105, KCCN FM 100, Power 104.3 and KRATER 96 FM. [HNN Story] Some management, most on-air staff and the rest, Sales Account Executives.
[FACT] KCCN FM 100 started on May 14, 1990. Music Director: Billy V., Program Director: Skylark Rossetti, General Manager Micheal Kelly, Owner/President: BJ Glascock
Since being owned by the original owner (BJ Glascock) out of Texas, we were owned by the Anderson Ohana (helped with the beginnings of PCC Laie), then COX Enterprises then SummitMedia.
[INFO] First thing to address is money. This kind of sweep-through isnʻt done lightly. Itʻs a pretty heavy hand. For reasons that I donʻt know, income has not been well and the word has been for awhile that the stations have not been making money. This is consistent with a sweep; if the station isnʻt making money, then you need to bring in people who can make it profitable. It is a BUSINESS, just like if it was your business, if it wasnʻt working for you, you would make a change.
But isnʻt there something you can do that wonʻt affect people? Yes, but the staff was thin as it was already. Also a week or two before the firings, about 7 people NOT behind the microphone left the station. Already a sign of things not well. What does something like this do? If the person has been there for a long time, their salary is probably large and is a big expense. So they are just let go? Not really. They probably have a severance package, and is dependent on the agreement or the length of time in the company. If they are under contract, theyʻll get paid for the rest of the length of the contract. This kind of sweep also allows your programming department to do a refresh. What that means can vary, but it gives you a chance to "clean house" on-air. It can be great, but it does take time, especially since they donʻt have the manpower with skeleton crew on staff and only so many hours in the day. If you are working an airshift, it takes six hours out of your day, so your working some LONG hours to get the work done.
Problem: There was already difficulty between personnel. Hawaiian radio station announcers and programmers felt left out when lots of the big prizes & promotions went to the non-hawaiian format stations. Even when Hawaiian 105 climbed to the #2 spot in Honolulu and stayed there for a long while, the situation remained the same with few prizes and promotions to Hawn 105 and KCCN FM.
[This part Iʻve seen first hand] So what does Mele Apana do? She pulls up her big girl panties and says, “Well let me talk to some of my friends”, many of them being sponsors of her HIGHLY successful Motherʻs Day Show. She brought in all the sponsors. Mele received NO compensation for bringing them on as station sponsors. When announcers were asked to do emcee jobs outside of the station; the station didnʻt pay them for their services. Iʻm sorry that is just wrong. If you do it because the sponsor is a non-profit…ok I can see itʻs part of the deal, and its helping the community. But regular remote location emceeing, concert emceeing? You need to add that expense in. It shows the worth of these announcers who are taking time out to promote station and sponsor. If groups/musicians are asked to play at a gig, they should be paid. Something. Give them a honorarium, but GIVE THEM SOMETHING. Show both radio talent and entertainer talent that they are appreciated and are members of worth.
There was that and other kinds of pilikia I saw in my last days as a full-timer at the station. In talks with other members of the staff, it continued right up until the full sweep at the station.
Summit Mediaʻs mainland headquarters saw some red flags and decided on this action. Money and personnel needed to be managed and it looked like it wasnʻt happening here at the local level. From all that I see and some of what Iʻve experienced; that is a very possible explanation.
Notice none of the former radio announcers are attacking corporate on this one? We are united in making sure you know this: In our years of working radio, we know what the priority is. Making sure ways to listen to our Hawaii music continues here in the homeland. This means giving corporate the time to get this right, and getting the right people in the right places at the station. Not just on-air, but behind the scenes too.
Iʻm saying it here and now.. You can quote me on this.
THIS clean sweep may be the BEST THING to happen to our Oʻahu radio stations in the last 10 years. The future begins NOW. Imua!!
Remember though: It is a BUSINESS. Itʻs not a non-profit. If we want Hawaiian music to WIN, then the business needs to THRIVE which means we all have to support it and all the sponsors that back the station.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO NEXT?
For my radio family, Iʻll deal with that in my next post, which should be as soon as....tomorrow! Rather than just point at a problem and say “HEY thereʻs a problem over there ->”; Iʻd like to give possible options. We start focusing on the future tomorrow!
Everyone has been telling us, "You guys should go digital; you should make your own podcast!
Join me for my livestream called Billy V LIVE! Every Aloha Friday at 3:00pm HST. You can watch it on Billy Vʻs YouTube Channel. Also on the Billy V LIVE FB page, HNNʻs Facebook Page & Billy V Sunrise FB page.