iHeartMedia decided to promote from within after its Atlanta president Drew Lauter was fired last October following the release of video of him saying racial slurs around fellow employees.
The new president is Spencer Bynes, who has been president of IHeartMedia’s Texas region since 2021. He officially starts in Atlanta Feb. 1.
“Spencer has done a superb job in his leadership role in Texas, where he drove positive changes in culture and performance,” said Kim Guthrie, iHeart division president in a press release. “In addition, his talents on how best to recruit, develop and coach a leadership team make him a wonderful fit for our needs here in Atlanta.”
In a memo to staff, she wrote: “It was critical that we take the time to be very thoughtful about this next leader and find the absolute right person for this role. Our ‘new and improved’ culture in this building is so important and I have all of you to thank for your contributions to this culture and your own efforts to be open and transparent with your fellow teammates these past few months.”
She added, “We all have worked so hard to redefine our brand here in Atlanta and I am incredibly proud of you and your leadership in turning a very important corner for our team.”
iHeartMedia Atlanta owns radio stations 94.9/The Bull (country), Power 96.1 (top 40), 105.3/The Beat (hip hop), El Z105.7 (Spanish pop), 96.7/El Patron (regional Mexican) and news station 640/WBIN-AM.
Its stations have been largely underperforming in recent years compared to their competitors. The two largest stations ― the Bull and Power ― have largely lagged behind their direct rivals though the Bull did pull slightly ahead of New Country 101.5 toward the end of 2022.
In the memo, Guthrie said ratings were “on the upswing and we just finished the financial year of 2022 and outpaced the market in revenue growth for the first time in 7 years. We are getting our swagger back!” She said Bynes in Texas “generated some of the best financial results in that division.”
He also has experience in Atlanta, she wrote, having “worked at Coke for five years on their talent team.”
iHeart Atlanta offices and studios last year moved from its home off Peachtree Road, where it was headquartered for decades, to a trendier new space at 1255 Makers Way off Chattahoochee Avenue.
The video of Lauter was taped in August 2021 but he only lost his job after WSB-TV aired it. The video clips show Lauter using a common slur against Black people multiple times in front of other iHeartMedia employees in a car after a charity event. In another video segment, Lauter, who is in the back seat, appears to be groping the male driver for several seconds.
Lauter has not made any public comments regarding the situation since he was fired.
Credit: HBO MA
Credit: HBO MA
HBO Max is ending “Doom Patrol” after four seasons.
The show about a team of traumatized and downtrodden superheroes was shot in metro Atlanta.
The ensemble cast includes Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, April Bowlby, Diane Guerrero, Joivan Wade and Michelle Gomez. Timothy Dalton was part of the series its first three seasons.
The series started on the now defunct streaming service DC Universe and moved to HBO Max for its third season.
According to Variety, this series ending was not connected to all the cost cutting happening at the recently merged Warner Bros. Discovery, which has more than $3 billion in debt to trim down.
The Peabody Awards ceremonies are moving from New York to Los Angeles for the first time.
Jeffrey Jones, executive director for the Peabody Awards out of the University of Georgia, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution that this move was planned in 2020 but the pandemic postponed it. The past three years of Peabody Awards were given out remotely.
“It’s easier to produce a show in Los Angeles,” Jones said. “There are so many celebrities there that can serve as presenters.”
He noted that celebrities can help shine light on some of the great work that was done by documentarians and TV stations and podcasters that otherwise wouldn’t get as much attention as scripted series. “It’s a nice benefit to have the bright light of celebrity shine on stories that matter,” he said.
The annual awards show had previously been held in New York, going back to 1941 when it only handed out prizes for radio recipients. Even after TV arrived and the power centers for television moved to Hollywood in the 1950s, the Peabody management remained loyal to New York until now.
The Peabodys, which honor a wide variety of media including TV series, podcasts, news specials and documentaries, did have a ceremony in Atlanta once in 1990 to celebrate its 50th year in existence.
This year, the ceremony will be held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Sunday, June 11. Tickets go on sale in April.
The ceremony, he said, will be about the same size as it was in New York City, fitting 700 people in the hotel ballroom.
This will also be the first year the Peabody Awards will honor the best in immersive media including video games and virtual reality.
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