Emmis Corp. dismissed eight employees, including longtime WIBC-FM 93.1 reporter Eric Berman, on Wednesday in advance of a sale of the company’s Indianapolis radio stations to Urban One, the Maryland-based firm that owns WTLC-FM 106.7 among its local holdings.
According to an internal memo obtained by IBJ, Berman was the only on-air employee who lost a job. Other staff members worked in marketing, IT and online content creation. Berman reported on politics and served as the station’s Indiana Statehouse bureau chief. He was with WIBC for 28 years.
“I’m beyond grateful for my time at Emmis,” Berman said in text to IBJ.
Berman tweeted Wednesday afternoon: “Some personal news: this morning my tenure at WIBC came to an end. For 28 years, it has been my privilege to bring you fair and detailed coverage of news affecting Hoosiers’ lives, and I hope you’ll stick around for whatever comes next.”
The memo indicated that Emmis Corp., a newly adopted name for the Indianapolis company previously known as Emmis Communications Corp., made the personnel moves because Urban One doesn’t have positions for the workers in its post-acquisition plans.
Emmis confirmed the dismissals in an official company statement:
“Today, Emmis notified eight individuals that their positions have been eliminated. Impacted individuals are being provided severance and offered insurance coverage. These are difficult days, and we wish them nothing but success.”
In a deal announced in June and pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission, Emmis will sell WIBC, WYXB-FM 105.7 (B105), WLHK-FM 97.1 (Hank FM), WFNI-FM 93.5 and 107.5 (both known as The Fan) and Network Indiana, which provides news, talk and sports programming to more than 70 stations in Indiana, to Urban One for $25 million.
The projected roster of Indianapolis radio stations owned by Urban One:
- WIBC-FM 93.1 (news and talk);
- WFNI-FM 93.5 and 107.5 (Colts games, Pacers games and sports talk);
- WLHK-FM 97.1 (country music);
- WNOW-FM 100.9 FM (expected to be the new home for Urban One’s hip-hop music format following the sale of WHHH-FM 96.3 to the Bible Broadcasting Network);
- La Grande 105.1 (Regional Mexican music);
- WYXB-FM 105.7 (adult contemporary music);
- WTLC-FM 106.7 (R&B music);
- WTLC-AM 1310 (Gospel music).
No company is allowed to own more than five FM stations or five AM stations in Indianapolis. The Fan stations and La Grande are broadcast via translators, and translator stations are not counted as FM stations for the purpose of the FCC’s multiple ownership rule.
Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins recently told IBJ that he expects the FCC to deliver its ruling on the transaction this month.
During a May interview with IBJ, Taja Graham, Indianapolis market president for Emmis, said more than 100 employees work for the radio stations and Network Indiana.
Aside from getting out of the radio business in Indianapolis, Emmis remains the owner of Indianapolis Monthly magazine and two radio station licenses in New York City, plus multiple ventures focused on sales and marketing.