Headcount falling at CBS Radio


CBS Radio is the latest major group to make staff cuts to get costs in line for what promises to be another tough year for the radio business, and likely the US economy as well. RBR received word yesterday of restructuring in several markets as CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason continued the streamlining process that he began a few months ago. The company confirmed that changes were made in multiple markets, but declined to say just how many positions were eliminated or what the cost savings would be.

"With these actions, we continue to build on our strategy of deploying our assets to best grow our ratings and monetize the results.  In the past months, CBS Radio has streamlined its corporate management staff, and installed Market Managers and Directors of Sales in all of our markets.  This change in operating structure has improved the way we do business by simplifying buying and selling transactions, speeding up the decision-making process and importantly – allowing us to more effectively monetize the aggregate number of listeners who hear us on the radio and the Internet.  CBS Radio also made significant programming improvements and considerably strengthened our digital assets in order to distribute our content on all available emerging platforms. As a result of our new focus, we’ve experienced substantial over-the-air ratings gains and sizable online-traffic growth. We believe the combination of a new senior management team, continued emphasis on strategic programming decisions, investments in interactive new media and continued attention to costs will best position CBS Radio for success in 2008 and beyond," the company said in a statement provided to RBR.

RBR/TVBR observation: Dan Mason has been methodically reworking CBS Radio to boost ratings, drive sales and get costs in line with the new reality of the radio marketplace. He’s been dumping formats that weren’t working, bringing back some oldies but goodies and launching some newbies. That’s starting to pay off in ratings and the focus is now on growing sales to reflect those higher ratings. Mason has also instituted a more cluster-focused structure, which meant that some markets had more GMs, GSMs or other management types than the new approach called for. We understand, though, that it is not a cookie-cutter program, so the staff cuts don’t mean that everyone with a certain title was eliminated in every market.

The word on the street was that a few hundred positions were eliminated, including managers, air talent and behind-the-scenes folk, but that’s in a radio mega-group with thousands of employees. Given what’s already taken place at Clear Channel and Emmis, the move was hardly surprising. Take a one-time charge in Q1 for severance costs and move ahead with the business plan to make CBS Radio once again a growing part of CBS Corporation.