Two companies involved in the radio business – Clear Channel Communications and Air America Radio – have been in the process of downsizing in the final months of 2007.
Now we all know that Clear Channel is the largest company in the radio business. It started the year with over 1,200 radio stations with access to 40% of radio listeners. It is also involved in the outdoor advertising and international radio businesses.
AAR, on the other hand, is one of the radio industry's smallest companies. It is now in the process of reorganizing after a painful bankruptcy just over a year ago and the loss of about 20% of its coverage. Regular readers of Talking Radio know that AAR provides about a dozen liberal talk radio shows to about 60 stations across the United States. According to TR, their programs account for about half of the listenership to liberal talk radio.
Clear Channel (unaffectionately known as "Cheap Channel") has been actively downsizing since the start of the year, when they announced a plan to take the company private. Since that time, they have attempted to unload 500 (or about 40% of their stations.) Almost half of those deals have been concluded as of now.
Presumably, they are doing this to make the company more attractive to the buy-out firm – Bain Capital Partners. However, the bean counters at CC haven’t stopped there. In the past few weeks we’ve noticed a lot of news about how they are cutting staff on their remaining stations.
Here are a few of the items that we have read in Allaccess.com, Radio Ink, and Radio-Info.com:
In Honolulu a newsperson and a producer have been cut.
In San Diego at least seven people, mostly low level, were given the boot. Management termed it a "staff readjustment." People that were fired were given the option of a six week severance or their job back - part time and no benefits.
In Los Angeles, Mike Nolan, who for over 20 years was talker KFI's "Eye in the Sky", and about a half dozen Airwatch traffic reporters were shown the door. Motorists in L.A. are going to have pay more attention to those ugly electronic freeway traffic signs. In addition, longtime AC KOST midday host Mike Sakellarides and at least five other employees will not be playing Christmas music at the soft rock music station.
In Cincinnati, John Kieswetter, Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer reports that "you won't hear Gregg Doyel on WCKY-AM any more. Doyel, who co-hosted 9 a.m.-noon with Mo Egger, was fired today in a budget cut. Egger will continue to host solo, says program director Dave Armbruster."It was just part of our budget cuts. I didn't want to do it. I think he was getting a lot better," Armbruster says. Morning co-host John Phillips has exited WKRC-AM and Anchor/Reporter Will Sterrett is out at WLW-AM as part of the cluster's budget cuts.
In Louisville, talk host Joe Elliot exits WHAS after 14 years in the time slot as part of a larger layoff at the cluster.
In Chicago, management has trimmed at least four staffers from the programming payroll. Those include Armando Rivera, assistant PD at V103/WVAZ "once considered a rising star." There were also cuts at WGCI and "Kiss FM" WKSC.
A thread has been started at the Radio-Info News/Talk board, which we check out from time to time, entitled "Clear Channel Cuts Nationwide."
RadioDailyNews.com has named"The fired and laid-off employees of Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel, Emmis, Cumulus and other large, medium and small market radio stations who have devoted their immense talents to broadcasting"as the recipients of the "2008 Radio Persons of the Year" award.
When we checked out CC’s corporate website we discovered the following quote from the company's founder and chairman Lowry Mays. It reads, in part:
"We believe Clear Channel's people are our most important asset."
We are not very surprised about the staff cutbacks at Air America Radio. After the Green brothers (Stephen and Mark) took over the struggling network, earlier this year, their first order of business was to cut costs. Mark Green told Talking Radio in August that staff was reduced from over 70 people to the low 40’s and operational loses were significantly cut.
However, in the past two months staff cutbacks at AAR started to reaching the bone of the network. The first high profile lay-off involved V.P. of Programming, David Bernstein. Recently, we learned that four more staffers have been let go.
We are not comparing the cutbacks at Clear Channel to the on-going problems at AAR – That would be like comparing watermelons to grapes. However, we wonder if the continuing problems besetting the radio industry, where station values, stock values, and ad revenue continue to slide downward, mean that we will hear about more about those who "are no longer with us."