As you may recall, the podcast producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts of iHeartMedia announced (in December of 2021) that they were unionizing with the Writer’s Guild of America, East. It is a labor union of over 6,000 creative professionals in broadcast news, scripted television and motion pictures, and digital media.
They were asking iHeartMedia for the following:
- Appropriate compensation and benefits
- Accountability mechanisms regarding diversity and inclusion efforts
- Manageable workloads and appropriate staffing for shows
- Clear plans for advancement and standardized job descriptions
- Job security
On February 24, 2022, iHeart Podcast Union announced the they won union recognition. They posted information about it on their @iheartpodunion Twitter account. Here is part of their thread of tweets:
“[megaphone emoji] BREAKING NEWS [megaphone emoji] After weeks of negotiations, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve won union recognition! We’re excited to start bargaining for better wages & healthcare, accountability, and other long-standing issues for our colleagues and ourselves. [fist emoji] [heart emoji]”
“Thanks to all our allies & supporters throughout this process. We owe our success to colleagues at other workplaces who are leading ongoing efforts like @GimletUnion, @RingerUnion, and @ParcastUnion, and to the tireless folks at @WGAEast who’ve connected & guided us.”
“We’re proud to be behind the incredible growth story of the podcast industry that Wall Street heard about yesterday, and we look forward to long overdue negotiations to share in & shape that growth.”
“We’re glad to acknowledge that the company has engaged fairly and in good faith so far in the process. [heart emoji]. It’s a relief that it went this way, but we know this is incredibly rare, and not representative of what most workers face when forming a union.”
On February 23, 2022, InsiderRadio posted an article titled: “iHeart’s Podcast Ad Revenue Grew 130% In Q4, And Topped A Quarter Billion Dollars In 2021.” From the article:
…During the fourth quarter, iHeart’s podcast revenue jumped 130% to $96.6 million. And for all of last year, the company says podcast revenue totaled $252.6 million. That was a 148% increase over the $101 million podcast revenue it booked in 2022.
At year-end, iHeart says nine percent of its fourth quarter total revenue was tied to its podcast business. That compares a one percent contribution at the start of 2019….
It seems to me that iHeart has plenty of money that it should spend on all of the things that the iHeart Podcast Union is asking for. Seems only fair, considering that they are the ones who did the work that brought in so much money for iHeartMedia.