Silvia Botello, an on-air personality at Univision Radio in Los Angeles for 18 years and César Osmar out of Chicago, were among dozens of casualties in Univision Communications’ restructuring of its radio division across the U.S. this past week.
Silvia, who started as a traffic reporter on 107.5 K-Love 18 years ago, landed her own show a few years ago on 98.3-103.9 FM Recuerdo. Univision dismissed her after finishing her show on Wednesday morning.
Chicago radio veteran César Osmar, host of the morning show on WPPN-FM/Pasion 106.7 (now Amor 106.7) was also pink-slipped.
Univision would not say how many employees were laid off, but confirmed cuts were made.
According to Chicago Radio and Media, among those laid off: WOJO-FM/La Que Buena 105.1 on-air talent/producer Jesse “El Grandote” Becerra, who had been with the company almost 10 years and Miguel “El Mostro” Vásquez, who worked at Univision Chicago since March 1998, most recently worked as a weekend personality for WVIX-FM/WVIV-FM, best known as Maxima 93.5 & 103.1.
Also from WOJO-FM, host/producer Eric García and traffic reporter Jesse Camargo are confirmed gone from the station. They were all told the company is “restructuring.”
DJ Lopez, Johnny V, MQ, and Julián Robles in Albuquerque were also let go.
Alex Quintero, program director for Univision’s Tropical WXNY in New York City, told Radio Ink he was among the layoffs. He had been with Univision for the past 12.
Reports that Miami-based host Enrique Santos and Univision Radio Chicago program director Al Sánchez were laid off are incorrect. A company spokesperson says both are all still with Univision Radio.
As part of a “transformation,” the company is eliminating local programs and centralizing its programming efforts. To that end, it created “content teams” based in Los Angeles, Miami and San Antonio that will provide “customized and localized content” for all of its markets.
By creating content for national distribution, to be shared on all of its stations and platforms, Univision Radio is eliminating the need for local hosts, thereby reducing costs.
“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,” wrote José Valle, President of Univision Radio in an open letter released as the cuts and changes were revealed.
Valle says several of the network’s shows “will see expanded coverage into multiple markets,” as there are “early signs of success with this model.”
Recently, Univision Radio launched “El Bueno, La Mala y El Feo”, a new program from the L.A. regional Mexican brand team, which according to Valle “already ranks #1 in Spanish language daypart for adults 18-49 in 5 key markets, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Antonio & DFW.”
Part of Univision Radio’s transformation includes the change of formats and re-branding at several of its stations.
“Recuerdo” stations featuring Spanish-language adult hits are being revamped with a “Más Variedad” format.
The changes include more investment in digital via “Uforia 4.0.” According to Valle, “Uforia Studios will generate, produce and distribute audio and video content to all Uforia Music Platforms.”
Speculation continues to grow that many of the changes in Univision across all of its divisions is part of the company’s efforts to prepare for an IPO later this year or in early 2015.
Here is Valle’s open letter about the changes:
By Jose Valle
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.