The axe fell Friday at Hubbard Radio Chicago, terminating the jobs of 12 employees, including several on-air personalities.
It marked the latest reduction in staff among Chicago's major broadcast groups attributed to the coronavirus shutdown and its effect on advertising revenue. But unlike the other publicly traded companies, the Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting is a privately held, family-owned business.
Jeff England, Hubbard Radio Chicago market manager, was unavailable for comment. But in a memo to employees, he wrote: "This was an extremely tough decision and one that was delayed for as long as possible. Please know that this decision was driven solely by our ability to continue operating our business in an extraordinarily difficult economy and environment."
On-air firings included evening host Phil Manicki and overnight host Greg Easterling at The Drive, and evening host Brian Middleton and morning show producer and on-air host Robb Rose at SHE 100.3.
Even "Eric in the Morning," the longtime cash cow on 101.9 The Mix hosted by Eric Ferguson, was not immune. Producer Cynthia DeNicolo and social media manager Melissa "Mel D" Dever, two regular contributors to the morning show, were cut.
Also out are digital media director Jeff Buti, content production manager Todd Ganz, art director/graphic designer Teddy Harris, receptionist Dale King, promotions manager Heather Torey and public affairs manager Susan Wiencek.
"The mark of a great company is one that sticks by their employees — and Hubbard Radio made it the longest while others cut weeks ago," Rose wrote on Facebook. "I will miss my former teammates and wish them all tremendous success!"
Here is the text of England’s email to staff:
This was a difficult day, in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19, we made changes that include a reduction in staff. This was an extremely tough decision and one that was delayed for as long as possible. Please know that this decision was driven solely by our ability to continue operating our business in an extraordinarily difficult economy and environment.
We are all aware of the impact Covid-19 has had on our health, work environments and lifestyles. In less than three months, this global pandemic has created unexpected and unfathomable challenges to everyone. Like other businesses, we at Hubbard Chicago, have to adapt and work through these challenging times. However, as the pandemic continues, it is clear we needed to do more to adapt to the new business environment we face.
I want to take a moment to recognize and thank our friends and co-workers who were affected and have contributed so much to our culture, our performance and our past success: Jeff Buti, Cynthia DeNicolo, Melissa Dever, Greg Easterling, Todd Ganz, Teddy Harris, Dale King, Phil Manicki, Brian Middleton, Robb Rose, Heather Torrey, and Susan Wiencek.
I know these changes are difficult for everyone. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me to set up a time to talk.
Thank you for the continued amazing work you do serving our listeners, clients, and community through these difficult times. I am confident in you and our collective ability to “weather” this storm and emerge even stronger.