Following Cumulus Media’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all of its employees, Inside Radio has learned that another major radio company will implement a similar policy. Urban One is expected to announce to its employees, as soon as Friday, that it will require them to be vaccinated by early fall.
With more large companies, including Walmart, Google and United Airlines, instituting vaccine mandates for their employees, Cumulus became the first radio company to require all employees to roll up their sleeves. In a Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 11) message, Cumulus CEO Mary Berner stated that all employees must have received their full dose of one of the available vaccines by Sept. 27 – two weeks prior to the scheduled return-to-office date of Oct. 11. All employees, outside of those designated as permanently remote or who have legal exceptions to receiving the vaccine, will return to offices and studios, including those who work in the company’s corporate offices in New York and Atlanta.
Urban One is implementing a similar plan, requiring all employees to be vaccinated by early fall. But unlike Berner who told staff, “It would neither be fair nor do we have the bandwidth to make exceptions based on individual preferences,” Urban One may allow some exceptions for medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs.
In notifying company staff, Berner said “Exceptions to the return to office plan will not be considered except as legally required.
“The decision to return to our offices was made with utmost consideration and reflects how we believe we can optimize our business efforts,” Berner continued. “Put simply, we believe that Force Cumulus is at our best when we’re working together in offices. To do that as safely as we reasonably can, we’re requiring that everyone be vaccinated except those legally excepted.”
The goal with both companies is to keep employees, their families and the communities in which they live, healthy and safe.
Urban One is currently in phase one of its return-to-work plan, with 25% of employees already back in the office. Most of them are essential workers who have been back to work on a full or part-time basis throughout the pandemic. Urban One employees who have already returned to work who are not vaccinated will be required to test weekly until they have been fully vaccinated, Inside Radio has learned.
Meanwhile, Audacy is requiring all new employees to be fully vaccinated.
At iHeartMedia, vaccinations are not currently required of employees. The company has been working on a new model for the workplace. “We’ve discovered that some jobs are more productive and effective as hybrids between in-office and remote – and some jobs really are more productive when done in-office,” CEO Bob Pittman and COO Rich Bressler said in a memo to employees in late May “Rather than have a one-size-fits-all approach we’re carefully examining each job and each location,”
Townsquare Media has urged employees to get inoculated but stopped short of making it a requirement.,“We have encouraged our team members to get vaccinated given the benefits and protection it provides from COVID-19, and in particular from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” CEO Bill Wilson tells Inside Radio. The company is providing paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, “but we have not mandated it as a condition of employment,” Wilson continued.