As The Walt Disney Co. continues to emphasize streaming video, it is shutting down its Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country operations, effective the first quarter of 2021, reports Broadcasting & Cable.
The move comes at a time when the media business is changing, giving kids more personalized music choices and the pandemic prevents Radio Disney from holding in-person events that attract sponsors.
Disney has been restructuring to focus on its direct-to-consumer business. Combined with the pandemic, which has devastated the company’s theme parks and movie business, the company reported a $710 million loss for its fiscal fourth quarter and has eliminated thousands of employees to reduce costs.
Launched in 1996, Radio Disney helped launch young Disney music stars including the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, as well as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and One Direction. In 2013, it began producing the Radio Disney Music Awards, which were televised on Disney Channel and showcased stars like Ariana Grande, Gwen Stefani, Meghan Trainor and Zendaya.
Radio Disney’s 36 staffers were informed of plans to cease operations Thursday morning via a teleconference with Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Branded Television.
The Radio Disney staffers will lose their jobs early next year and receive an enhanced severance package.
The decision to close follows Disney’s exit from the radio station business, which began in 2007 and concluded with the sale of five Radio Disney stations to Salem Media Group for $2.225 million in 2015. Radio Disney kept one local station, KRDC-AM, Los Angeles, to originate its national programming feed. Disney will sell that station in 2021.
The shut down process will take a few months, and the Radio Disney signal will be turned off in the first quarter.