Clear Channel has followed up its layoffs from last January with another round of cuts, eliminating 590 more jobs, many of them in the areas of programming, IT, engineering, and back-office, though a number of on-air positions were eliminated as well. When combined with the approximately 1,850 people who lost their jobs in January, it brings the total to about 2,400, or around 12 percent of the company’s workforce. Additionally, Clear Channel has suspended 401(k) matching for now, but it may be restored retroactively if the company’s projected budget goals are met.
Today’s layoffs hit country radio hard, with on-air positions being eliminated from coast to coast at many mainstream stations. While January’s layoffs focused mainly on sales, this round focused on programming, a result of local PD decisions to replace under-performing dayparts with syndication, voicetracking and/or offerings from the company’s Premium Choice program.
The sad news is bound to have a strong effect on the operation of the network and perhaps raises more questions than it answers. Unofficial reports are that many of the remaining programmers will be responsible for music in a variety of markets, many of which are monitored and report to MediaBase. Mainstream country music singles charts are sure to reflect the extent to which these music programmers are able to create independent local stations—or not. In fact, were a number of reporting stations to adopt a syndicated approach it could seriously compromise the usefulness of the current chart spin data.
*Peter Cronin with reporting assistance from David M. Ross
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