Univision Radio cuts have arrived


Univision-RadioWe told you first on 3/22: “Univision Radio is set for a wave of internal consolidation which may include a relocation of HQ from NYC to LA with local staffs being minimized. It was apparently discussed 3/21 with Univision Radio President Jose Valle in NYC at an X96.3 (WXNY-FM) staff meeting.  “One jock for several markets. No more local stuff” was one takeaway from the meeting. Layoffs and displacement are said to be in the 300 range.  ‘They are going to go into a super-model of pumping all of the broadcasts out to the stations…what will that mean for local sales and local operations and local touch points? That’s what the other station operators in these markets could spin locally and perhaps see an increase in local revenues because of it,’ said a source.”

Now the news is coming in. Univision Radio laid off some 100-150 staffers, especially across programming and local content generation. They include Alex Quintero, PD for Univision’s Spanish Tropical WXNY-FM NYC,  Jesse “El Grandote” Becerra, WOJO-FM Chicago on-air talent, producer, and production assistant. Also released in the Windy City was Miguel “El Mostro” Vasquez, a weekend personality for WVIX-FM/WVIV-FM.

Noted a Chicagoland Radio and Media story: “…those changes had included the release of Chicago radio veteran Cesar Osmar, who was hosting the morning show on WPPN-FM/Pasion 106.7 (now Amor 106.7). One of the main reasons for the layoffs has to do with Univision’s plans to nationalize its radio programming. The company wants to have the majority of its on-air talent and programming coming from its centralized Uforia Studios hub, located in Los Angeles. Some Uforia programming will also come from content teams in Miami and San Antonio. Very little will now be coming from local programmers or on-air personalities. Some stations will still have one or two shifts that have a local talent, such as WPPN-FM’s longtime midday host Vicky Aguilera, while most others will soon be entirely “piped in” from Los Angeles, with little local input heard.”

On 4/1, Univision Radio President Jose Valle posted up an open letter on Univision’s website:

“I can directly connect most of my life to very specific music, but even more so, to radio stations, formats and morning Djs who introduced me to that music.  From listening to Humberto Luna on KTNQ with my father in the late 70’s and Richard Blade introducing me to new music on KROQ during 80’s to my kids constantly reaching for control of the dial (or phone/ipad) today- radio has always been a part of my life.  A constant companion – playing the soundtrack of my life.

Technology and consumer preference has given radio an opportunity to expand and connect beyond our signal strength.  We are no longer limited by our coverage map.  Listeners still want to stay connected to the over-the-air brands they love – of that there is no doubt – but they want to do it on their terms.  And we, as an industry, must adapt and make the needed changes to ensure that we continue to deliver for our listeners and advertisers.

That is why Univision Radio began a journey over the past two years to transform our offering to best meet the needs of our listeners today and in the future.

As has always been the case, content is still king.  To that end, we have assembled best in class “brand teams” to create content across all platforms.  The brand teams include some of the nation’s best programmers, digital/promotion/production leadership, and on-air talent, each specializing exclusively in one genre or brand of music.

The content teams, based in Los Angeles, Miami & San Antonio, will provide customized and localized content across all of our markets, digital, and beyond.  Local promotions and activation teams, as well as local DJs, will continue serving clients and local audiences in each and every market.

We also believe in and will continue to invest and develop quality talent.  Morning shows like Raul Brindis, Omar & Argelia, Enrique Santos, Javier Romero and Luis Jimenez have consistently connected with our audiences and performed for our partners.  Many of our shows will see expanded coverage into multiple markets. We have early signs of success with this model.  We recently launched “El Bueno, La Mala y El Feo”, a new program from our regional Mexican brand team in Los Angeles and it already ranks #1 in Spanish language daypart for adults 18-49 in 5 key markets, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Antonio & DFW.

We will be extending our brands digitally via Uforia 4.0 – recently released on both iOS & Android.  This extension of our brands – is a digital music service that puts the power in the customer’s hands, letting them experience their favorite music and brands on their terms.

As part of the digital investment, Uforia Studios will generate, produce and distribute audio and video content to all Uforia Music Platforms. These content creation sites will maximize every opportunity available with celebrities and artists to create exclusive content for our consumers.  From intimate performances to entertaining segments. Uforia Studios will make it available across all platforms while facilitating the flexibility to localize this content by brand and market.

Uforia Studios will also leverage the power of Univision Communications Inc’s (UCI) platforms starting with our local radio stations and including network and local TV, digital properties in addition to our tent pole events to drive music premieres for existing and upcoming artists. Our competitive advantage in the marketplace is our ability to tap into the power of a unified and integrated UCI.

As part of our ongoing transformation, we will also be investing in traffic and production centers of excellence that will generate efficiencies, quality control, and facilitate collaboration around content creation. Change is always difficult, but as the industry, we must continue to lead, experiment, learn, and recalibrate quickly, or else, we will lose audiences. This means, to continue to win we must pull back resources in some areas, to invest in areas of growth.

Radio is much more than a coverage map.  It is a partner that can now travel with you everywhere and anywhere.  And music isn’t just music.  It is a way of life.  It is still the universal language – but it is now customized and personalized.  At Univision Radio we see ourselves playing the role of curator, and host that connects and powers those soundtracks – everywhere.  Our strategy and focus is clear – to be everywhere our audience is with the quality and musical experience that they are looking for.

If you are an emerging artist looking to connect with the biggest Hispanic audience in Radio, we have a program to develop your brand and reach across broadcast, digital, and live events.

If you are a broadcaster looking to capitalize on the growth and strength of the Hispanic audiences, we have the top mornings shows, music formats and content services available for your syndication.

The new Univision Radio is looking forward to working with you.”

RBR-TVBR observation: As we said on 3/22, Univision Radio is following the Clear Channel model and that includes Uforia as CCME leverages iHeartRadio. Meanwhile, Clear Channel/Premiere is gobbling up a big chunk of the Hispanic Radio marketplace with the recent deal with Grupo Radio Centro and El Mandril—along with the recent deal with Stardome Artist Development Group, (a division of Stardome Media Group) a media and entertainment company focusing on the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American marketplaces. It’s a revenue-sharing deal that will allow artists represented by Stardome to share in revenues from CCME’s radio stations and digital streams. A longshot is Univision Radio may be consolidating the radio division before putting it up for sale. Who knows, but they will likely see if this consolidation model brings up revenues first before any other contemplations. Noted one industry source: “Univision along with everyone else in the Hispanic radio medium is taking big hits.  We see Univision lowering rates and aggressively going after every dollar.  Several big clients have left the medium, some for World Cup sponsorships others have just left for a variety of reasons mostly dollars being converted to digital. Walmart, State Farm, GM, Clorox,  along with budgets cuts Allstate, NAPA, etc…”

An RBR-TVBR source tells us they have been flooded with calls not only from talent but by veteran sales execs. The model, while exciting and building out on a digital path, is the brainchild of Evan Harrison who started this at Clear Channel. Thinking that mom and pop and national (single or multiple market) advertisers will follow remains to be seen, but the source is sure there will be a shoring up of local sales teams by competitors to catch the accounts left in lurch. “Think: if Evan Harrison was successful in the Clear Channel space with this model, why was we he let go? This is a big gamble. Competitors love this chaos.”