Radio Disney, the nationwide radio community that entertained younger listeners for greater than 20 years and helped jump-start the music careers of Disney Channel stars like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez, is about to finish operations early subsequent yr, Disney’s tv division introduced on Thursday.
The transfer is a part of Disney’s rising deal with its streaming platform, Disney+, and its tv channels, in response to Disney Branded Television. Consumers’ rising curiosity in additional customized music experiences and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on in-person musical occasions additionally contributed to the choice, the corporate mentioned.
Thirty-six full- and part-time workers will probably be laid off because of the transfer, including to a wave of layoffs at Disney in the course of the pandemic. In September, Disney laid off thousands of employees at its U.S. theme parks, and on Thursday greater than 100 individuals, together with some senior executives, had been laid off throughout Walt Disney Television, a Disney spokeswoman mentioned.
Radio Disney Country, which debuted in 2015 as a digital-only platform, may also stop operations. Radio Disney in Latin America, which is separate from the U.S. operations, won’t be affected.
Started in 1996 as a terrestrial radio station, Radio Disney turned a vacation spot for preteens and youngsters, primarily enjoying pop music and songs popularized by Disney Channel exhibits. By 2005, the station was out there throughout 97 % of the United States. In 2009, Radio Disney reached about 30 million listeners every week, a Disney spokeswoman mentioned. That yr, it opened a studio in Burbank, Calif., that turned its programming headquarters.
In a shift, the community started reaching its viewers totally on digital and satellite tv for pc platforms as an alternative of over the airwaves in 2014, when the corporate bought 23 native market stations. (Its final remaining native station, KRDC-AM in Los Angeles, will probably be bought in 2021.)
In the 1990s, the station largely performed common artists like Britney Spears and ’NSync. It later served as a launching pad for artists early of their careers, together with Hilary Duff, Raven-Symoné, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Zendaya.
“Radio Disney was definitely the first and one of the kind of most significant events in the development of the tween music industry,” mentioned Tyler Bickford, an affiliate professor of youngsters’s literature and childhood research on the University of Pittsburgh and the creator of “Tween Pop: Children’s Music and Public Culture.”
By embracing pop music and mixing it with its live-action exhibits on the Disney Channel, Disney was capable of appeal to older kids across the ages of 11 and 12, Professor Bickford mentioned, contributing to an rising preteen demographic that Radio Disney labored to domesticate.
The station’s impression on up-and-coming younger expertise can nonetheless be felt right this moment, in response to the singer-songwriter Megan Nicole.
Ms. Nicole’s first single, “B-e-a-utiful,” regularly obtained airtime on Radio Disney after its launch in 2011. She mentioned the station supported her early in her profession.
“I was with my label for three years, I went independent, and even as an independent artist Radio Disney still supported me, which, looking back, is pretty awesome of them to do,” the singer, 27, mentioned.
She usually performed exhibits across the nation with Radio Disney, she mentioned, and carried out on the Radio Disney Music Awards preshow in 2014. She mentioned one in every of her fondest reminiscences of Radio Disney concerned taking part in an on-air expertise present when she was younger.
“I was too afraid to talk on the phone with a D.J., so I had my friend do the talking, and then I sang and handed the phone back to my friend,” she mentioned. “It’s pretty funny that I went from being afraid to talk to anyone to, fast forward years later, they’re playing my music.”
Ms. Nicole told her Twitter followers on Thursday that Radio Disney’s closing was “the end of an era.”
“I grew up with them, like it was just so iconic as a child,” she mentioned. “Disney was everything.”
Brooks Barnes contributed reporting.