Reorg and staff cuts at RAB


As FIRST Reported by RBR/TVBR in Thursday’s PM report and on, veterans George Hyde and Mike Mahone are out as CEO Jeff Haley reorganizes the Radio Advertising Bureau. Also, more staff reductions in Dallas. And the annual RAB conference will move to the fall to align with the NAB Radio Show.

Haley informed RAB’s directors and trustees yesterday of the reorganization decided on following a review by a task force headed by RAB Vice Chair Weezie Kramer, Regional VP, Entercom, Chicago. A key emphasis resulting from that evaluation will be a renewed focus on membership. Exec. VP Ron Ruth will continue to head that effort, with his department being renamed from “Stations” to “Membership,” as he will also be heading the recently launched Personal Membership program for individuals.

Despite parting ways with long-time Exec. VP George Hyde, Haley’s email to the board said, “We remain dedicated to Training in all its forms and that effort will be headed up by John Potter who has ably led our transition to web based training.”

Haley later told RBR/TVBR that the organization will continue all of its training offerings, including field training, training at the academy in Dallas and web-based training. “We’ve found that it’s more efficient for us and more efficient for our members to do a fair amount of that online. We’re still looking at the retention data for people who get trained online vs. people who get trained live,” Haley said, indicating that decisions are yet to be made about the future course of the training operations.

The “Services” department, formerly headed by Exec. VP Mike Mahone, has been renamed “Station Services,” with David Casper as head. Casper retains his Sr. VP title and Potter continues as VP with their new responsibilities.

Haley said nine other staffers had been pink-slipped in the Dallas office, but they were not identified by name or job function. Haley told RBR/TVBR they were spread across various departments.

“George and Mike and all of those affected by our reduction in force have contributed greatly to Radio and the RAB. We are grateful for their service and wish them all the best in their future endeavors,” Haley said in his email to the board.

“We’ve had a reduction in staff, which is not unlike what other broadcasters have had to do this year. We reflect the industry we serve. That’s the unfortunate circumstance we’re all in,” Haley told RBR/TVBR.

This is the second major staff reduction for RAB this year in the face of the economic downturn that has diminished ad revenues for its member stations. Back in January RAB laid off 10% of its staff, including three people of Sr. VP and VP rank. Staffers who remained had their salaries frozen.

Having gone through layoffs twice, we asked Haley if that was the end. “I certainly hope it’s the last. We hope it’s the last every time we have to do this. But we’re in an uncertain economic environment,” Haley noted.

In addition to the staff reorganization, RAB is moving its annual management conference from March to October effective in 2010. That will align it with the NAB Radio Show as groups have cut back on travel budgets. Haley said RAB is in conversations on exactly how its conference will be related to the NAB event, with no conclusion at this point.

That’s pretty much the view of the NAB as well. “There has been no decision made on whether to combine the NAB Radio Show with the RAB annual convention. In the final analysis, we want to do what is in the best interests of our members and both organizations,” said Dennis Wharton, NAB Exec. VP, Media Relations

More immediately, RAB’s fall board meeting has been moved to September 22nd in Philadelphia, a day before the NAB Radio Show gets under way there.

RBR/TVBR observation: When you’re trying to whittle down payroll, it is most effective to eliminate some of the big checks paid to the most experienced and senior people. But we’ve been hearing from people in radio who are shocked to see George Hyde and Mike Mahone put out to pasture. One noted that Hyde had trained “literally thousands of our troops” and that Mahone had been ahead of the industry in developing RAB’s online resources.

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