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Walt Disney Co. planning to unload 23 radio stations, lay off staff

Walt Disney Co. is planning to sell 23 radio stations
Disney recently made other radio station divestitures in 2010 and 2013
Radio Disney will lay off about 200 people

Walt Disney Co. is planning to sell 23 radio stations and will begin distributing much of its Radio Disney content digitally, the company said Wednesday.

As a result of the expected sales, Radio Disney, which targets children and families with an array of programming, will lay off about 200 people.

Disney will retain its AM station in Los Angeles -- KDIS-AM (1110) -- which will be used to originate Radio Disney's national programming feed.

"Radio Disney will increase its investment in both digital distribution platforms and music-centric programming to optimize the network for long-term growth and to better reflect the habits of its listeners, a national audience of kids and families," a Radio Disney representative said in a statement.

A buyer for the stations has not been identified. 

Disney is planning to sell stations in major markets including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. In all, the company will jettison 22 AM stations and one FM station. The local stations will cease operating on Sept. 26.

The layoffs are expected to affect all departments of the local stations.

In an email memo sent to staff on Wednesday, Radio Disney General Manager Phil Guerini said that the changes at the radio network would "result in the elimination of some positions, adjustments to other roles and the addition of some new positions."

"Please know that we approached this decision with care and rigor and will provide transition support to those who will be departing the organization," he said.

Radio Disney's digital and satellite distribution partners include Sirius/XM, Aha Radio and ShowMobile, among others. The radio network's content is also accesible on the WATCH Disney app, which is available for Android and iOS devices.

Radio Disney's programming includes the children's music program "Radio Disney Junior," dance music show "Saturday Night Party" and morning program "Morgan & Maddy in the Morning."

Disney recently made other radio station divestitures in 2010 and 2013.

News of the radio station closures was first reported by television industry trade publication Broadcasting & Cable.

Shares of Burbank-based Disney rose 39 cents on Wednesday to close at $87.60. The stock was flat in after-hours trading.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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