New round of firings at Clear Channel


Clear Channel Radio on Tuesday concluded the restructuring its new owners began in January. Some 590 staffers got pink slips yesterday, spread across engineering, IT, business office operations, programming and on-air – although the company was careful to note that programming and on-air are not the majority of this round of job eliminations.

Combined with the firings of 1,850 staffers in late January, nearly 2,500 positions have been eliminated at CC Radio this year, or nearly 12% of the staff that existed on December 31, 2008. The first round was focused on sales and the most recent one on support staff, but there were significant numbers of on-air talent and programmers in each wave.

We understand that on-air voices cut yesterday were the result of PD decisions based on the “Premium Choice” programming initiative that Clear Channel announced a few weeks ago, giving local PDs access to the company’s syndicated programming to replace local hosts deemed to be underperforming.

The larger group of positions eliminated yesterday were the result of the top-to-bottom business analysis conducted by Bain Capital, which along with Thomas H. Lee Partners, are the private equity firms which now own the overwhelming majority of Clear Channel parent CC Media Holdings. That analysis determined that certain jobs were redundant, unnecessary or could be done by a computer rather than a human being. Thus, the mass firings of 1,850 people in January and 590 yesterday for a total of 2,440.

Those losing their jobs in the latest round, like those before, are being given severance packages. We’re told that for employees who have worked for CC Radio for at least three years, the benefits run for nine months.

Meanwhile, those still employed by CC Media Holdings and its subsidiaries, including Clear Channel Communications and Clear Channel Outdoor, one employee benefit has gone away. The company has discontinued its match of employee 404(k) contributions. That’s a move which has been initiated by numerous companies across all industries in the current recession. However, the CC Media action does offer a ray of hope. Should the company hit 90% of its budget goals for 2009 by the end of the year, the 401(k) match will be retroactively restored.

Newspapers – themselves hard-hit by budget cuts – were quick to tally the local fall-out from Clear Channel Radio’s latest on-air staff cuts. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Jeff Lynn, Program Director at WRIT-FM and WQBW-FM was fired. And he didn’t go quietly. A posting on his Facebook page read: “Jeff Lynn…come on down.. you’re the latest winner of the John Hogan axe. Here’s your lovely parting gift. After six years service don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” The newspaper said all WRIT DJs had been removed from the station website except for morning drive. Some previously local slots were also vacated at WMIL-FM in Milwaukee.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that WTKS-FM cut loose Bubba “Whoopass” Wilson of the “Monsters in the Morning” show and and Oddo from the “Philips Phile.” Also gone are long-time WXXL-FM morning producer Alex Diaz, WFLF-AM Program Director Tom Benson, the Shot Doctor and his show from WFLF-AM and Crazy Sam from WRUM-FM.

The Detroit News reported the pink-slipping of Breakfast Club host Chris Edmonds at WNIC-FM, Chad Mitchell from “The Chad Show” at WDTW-FM and sports reporter Rob Otto from WDFN-AM.

The Chicago Tribune reported that those fired included midday host Troi Tyler and evening personality Irene Mojica at WVAZ-FM, WGCI-FM overnight voice Ericka “Sundance” Campbell,  Jeff “Smash” Tyler at WKSC-FM and Bill cochran at WNUA-FM.

RBR/TVBR observation: OK, the Bain Capital folks have done their business school analysis and acted on the results. Now we wait to see whether they know anything about how to run a radio company. If not, we’ll then find out whether Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia know anything about how to run a radio company.

[Editor’s note: Information previously included in this story which had been reported by WHEC-TV Rochester, NY was found to be incorrect and has been removed.]

Related Reports follow the pattern:
4/20/09 – Clear Channel waxes Congress
4/20/09 – Early peek at Clear Channel’s numbers
4/17/09 – The Clear Channel mirror
4/16/-09 – CC Radio: Less local programming = more local PSAs
4/16/09 – Clear Channel putting more Non-Local programming on stations
4/14/09 – Clear Channel adding syndicated programming in local markets