Pandora’s Johnny Chiang to Oversee Country Music Programming for SiriusXM in Role Expansion
Chiang, who joined Pandora in July 2022, fills the role previously held by JR Schumann.
Johnny Chiang, Pandora’s senior director of country programming, will expand his role to also oversee country music programming at SiriusXM, the company tells Billboard. Chiang will report to SiriusXM/Pandora’s GM and senior vp of music programming Steve Blatter. He is charged with developing country music programming including championing new artists as well as highlighting established artists.
Among the recent newcomers Chiang has been part of championing is Bailey Zimmerman, who saw two songs on Pandora’s Top 100 Most Thumbed list last year, with “Rock and a Hard Place” at No. 12 and “Fall in Love” at No. 29. Chiang also led Pandora’s first three-station takeover to mark the release of Zimmerman’s EP Leave the Light On. Chiang also led a cross-genre, multi-station Pandora Takeover to help launch HARDY’s country/rock project The Mockingbird & The Crow.
Chiang’s new role fills duties previously held by JR Schumann, who exited SiriusXM in July 2022. Darrin Smith, SiriusXM’s vp of programming, oversaw the satellite broadcaster’s country channels on an interim basis.
Before joining Pandora in July 2022, Chiang served as vp of radio promotions and artist development at Red Street Records following the announcement that the label had launched a country division. Prior to his work with Red Street, Chiang spent 18 years at KKBQ in Houston and was also the Cox country format leader.
During Chiang’s time at KKBQ, the station was named the Country Music Association’s major market station of the year three times (in 2014, 2016 and 2018), as well as the Academy of Country Music’s major market station of the year in 2017. It also won the Marconi four times (in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018). In 2016, Billboard named him the most influential country program director in the United States.
During Nashville’s Country Radio Seminar earlier this week, Chiang led a panel during CRS’ Digital Music Summit titled “Sweet Streams (Are Made of These),” which provided an overview of music streaming services. The panel also included Spotify’s Rachel Whitney and Amazon Music’s Michelle Tigard Kammerer, as each music service detailed their respective platforms’ tools for independent artists and discussed the role of playlisting in music marketing, how DSPs use data to make decisions and more.
Chiang’s role expansion comes on the heels of SiriusXM’s announcement earlier this month that it would be laying off 475 employees, or 8% of its workforce. In a statement that followed, CEO Jennifer Witz called the job cuts difficult but “the right thing to do” as the business grapples with lower ad sales, a still-delayed recovery in the automotive subscription business and major investments in its technology.