The tidal wave of layoffs at Clear Channel have overswept the Florida keys as well—so much so that it’s news down there. Of the five stations in Monroe County, which makes up the keys, four on-air personalities have been let go and CC “will fill their time slots with programming from other markets,” as promised.
Clear Channel employs about 25 people in Monroe County.
The new direction will be to air a mix of local programming and programming broadcast locally, but piped in from other areas of the country, said Sherri Sanchez, Clear Channel regional marketing manager for the Keys, Sarasota, Punta Gorda and Melbourne, told The Miami Herald.
Sanchez would not say who got the ax, but a source said D.J. Dave Levy, K.C. Stuart, Rudy and Bill Bravo were let go.
Levy confirmed he was among those laid off from WFKX 103.1 FM (Tavernier, FL) and said he didn’t see it coming: “They slashed jobs all over the country, and my name and number were up.”
Levy had worked for CC some 15 years. He most recently worked middays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Hobee in the Afternoon” show, which broadcasts Keyswide from Key West weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m., will be one of the few remaining local programs left. The show airs on WFKZ the Upper Keys and WAIL 99.5-FM in Key West.
Stuart, who told the paper he was laid off, started working the morning shift 22 years ago at WFKZ. Clear Channel bought its Keys stations in the late 1990s. “Like a lot of big companies, Clear Channel has a lot of debt that needs to be retired, but the wrong people end up taking it on the chin. It’s unfortunate,” he said.
RBR-TVBR observation: About $18 to $20 billion in debt, that is. As easy as it is to bash Clear Channel for the big layoffs, it sounds like the company’s back is to the wall here. CC, like other groups, scooped up many stations after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 lifted ownership caps significantly. Those stations sold for top dollar and now, years later after ad dollars flowed to the internet, those stations aren’t worth what they were bought for. In essence, they are now “upside down” on their loans like so many homeowners are today. Their mistake, however, was in thinking that consolidating operations at all of their stations wouldn’t affect localism and ratings.