iHeartRadio Replaces Hundreds of Workers With 'Technology and AI'

iHeartRadio Denver (photo: Jeffrey Beall CC by 4.0)

Yesterday, we on iHeartMedia’s mass layf 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 the threats feel like they’re in the distant future.

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

Yesterday, we first reported that iHeartMedia and its iHeartRadio unit was across its organization, with potentially hundreds impacted.  Initially, we reported that dozens were losing their jobs, but that number soon increased.  A source to Rolling Stone has since pegged the number cut employees closer to 850, while a source to Billboard simply called the mass-layf a ‘bloodbath’.

Radio publication All Access has named nearly 60 DJs out 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 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, while pointing to the “unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.”  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 its technology improvements to help its employees.

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

“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 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 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.”