Royal Media Services has kicked off its restructuring exercise by firing three senior radio editors, as the media house moves to cut costs and boost revenues, raising anxiety in a newsroom already spooked by layoffs in rival companies. The company last Friday gave redundancy letters to heads of three of its popular vernacular radio stations.
Those affected are Esther Macharia (head, Inooro FM) Michael Bowen (head, Chamgei FM) and Winnie Kungania (head, Muunga FM).
Inooro FM, based in Nairobi, is one of the popular Kikuyu radio stations. Inooro FM broadcasts a wide variety of content such as talk shows, music, sports coverage, news and information on many subjects (business, agriculture and health, to mention just a few).
Muuga FM is the first Kimeru station started in September 2005. It covers is in Upper Eastern, including the entire Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Isiolo counties.
Chamgei FM, on the other hand is a Kalenjin radio station targeting nine kalenjin sub-tribes namely: Kipsigs, Nandi, Keiyo, Tugen, Sengwer, Marakwet, Sabaot, Terik and Pokot.
It is understood that while Esther and Winnie were relieved of their duties purely as retrenchment, Bowen was pushed out due partly to unprofessional conduct due to his links with top politicians from the Kalenjin community.
The sacking came just days after Royal Media vice chairperson Purity Gathoni Macharia, met directors to review the company’s performance. The meeting was attended by Fred Afune (radio/TV production director), Bashir Mburu (finance & administration), Rose Wanjohi (human resources), Waruru Wachira (managing director), Farida Karoney (chief operations officer) and technical director Engineer Ben Muinde.
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Mrs Macharia hinted at restructuring to keep the company afloat. Mrs Macharia also met with heads of radio and other departments and hinted strongly at sackings – but many did not expect the restructuring to come to soon.
The company, which runs Citizen and Inooro TV stations as well as a host of Radio stations, is said to have recorded a drop in revenues attributed to low advertising. Like many media houses, RMS has resorted to staff cuts to reduce the pressure of operational costs and grow profits. More lay-offs are expected at RMS in the coming weeks.
Recently, Nation Media Group started retrenching its employees with a target of reducing its payroll by 140. It also has been facing lean times, thanks to a new government policy centralizing advertising and digital platforms that have been taking a good share of adspend. Standard Group restructured last year, pushing out about 40 employees.