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KFBK lays off news director as corporate shuffling continues

Former KFBK News Director and on-air host Mike Hagerty. (Photo: Twitter)

Sacramento’s news radio station KFBK has laid off its long-time news director as the station’s corporate parent continues to issue pink slips as part of a company-wide restructuring.

Mike Hagerty was released from his position this week, according to two sources, including a station employee. In addition to serving as the station’s news director, Hagerty co-hosted “The Afternoon News with Kitty O’Neal” during the afternoon drive-time.

Hagerty modified his Twitter account this week to remove mentions of KFBK in his social media handle and biography. He channeled HBO comedian John Oliver in a post where he wrote he was “moving on,” later linking to a Facebook note where he confirmed the news of his layoff.

“This was my home and these people,” Hagerty wrote in a photo album filled with photos from his time at KFBK. “Thanks for the love and laughter! The next chapter awaits.”

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It was not immediately clear who would fill the role of news director at the station. Wendy Goldberg, a communications executive with iHeart Media, said the company had no specifics to offer on Hagerty’s position.

Additional on-air and behind-the-scenes staff members were released from other iHeart-owned stations in Sacramento, according to people familiar with the situation, but The Desk could not corroborate their names and positions.

The layoffs come as parent company iHeart Media began a corporate restructuring this week that saw hundreds of positions eliminated or consolidated across its wide national network of 850 radio stations. Those eliminations and consolidations have led to hundreds of people receiving layoff notices.

Employees at some of these stations began suspecting layoffs were forthcoming after executives from various station groups were called to an urgent meeting at iHeart Media’s corporate office in New York earlier this month, according to an account published by Rolling Stone on Wednesday.

“We heard a lot of different rumors, including talk about automating certain markets depending on the revenue [they generated],” an unidentified station employee told the news magazine.

Other employees became aware of the restructuring after a company-wide memo cited by Rolling Stone was distributed on Tuesday. A former host said shortly after the memo went out, “as many as 850 people” were laid off, with additional cuts coming through the end of the week.

On Thursday, Goldberg provided The Desk with a copy of the company’s statement on its restructuring efforts and associated job losses:

“We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in.  This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness and our efficiency with all our major constituencies. 
During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function – but the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500. That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.”

This story was updated from an earlier version to include comments made by Hagerty.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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