Disney is shuttering its Radio Disney division amid the ongoing restructuring at the media giant.
Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country will both stop broadcasting in the first quarter of 2021, resulting in layoffs for 36 full- and part-time employees. Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Branded Television, made the announcement Thursday.
The decision comes as Disney is undergoing a restructuring of its divisions and priorities. As part of that, Marsh’s Branded Television group has a mandate to increase production of content for streaming platform Disney+ and Disney Channels.
The rise of streaming audio and the pandemic-fueled uncertainty about the future of live music events also contributed to the decision.
The shutdown will not affect Radio Disney in Latin America, which is a separate operation.
“The difficult decision to close these two radio networks coincided with Disney’s recently announced structural changes that call for Disney Branded Television to sharpen its focus on increasing production of kids’ and family content for Disney+ and Disney Channels,” said a statement announcing the news. “Division leaders also took into account the fast evolving media environment that provides more personalized music choices than ever to a generation of young consumers, and the ongoing public health crisis that continues to affect in-person music events.”
Radio Disney reports to Billboard’s Pop Songs Radio Airplay chart.
Disney Channel head Marsh was recently upped to lead the Disney Branded TV unit as the company reorganizes around content-focused groups and moves away from its legacy divisions. Marsh has oversight of all Disney-branded TV content targeted at kids, tweens and families as well as unscripted content and production for Disney+. He reports to Peter Rice, chairman general entertainment content at Disney.
Radio Disney launched as an over-the-air network in 1996 and owned 23 stations during its peak. In 2014, the company sold 22 of those stations and moved to satellite and digital distribution. The remaining station, KRDC-AM in Los Angeles, was where Radio Disney’s national programming feed originated; it will be sold in 2021.
The outlet helped boost the careers of Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Raven-Symone, along with the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift *NSync, among many others. Radio Disney Country launched in 2015.
A version of this article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.