Charlie Cook On Air: Clear Channel Cutbacks

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• December 14, 2012

I do not want to come off as someone trying to defend cutting jobs in the broadcast business. I have spent my entire career in radio and have never had a job outside of the business. All of my friends are in the radio/music business.

That said, I cannot fault Clear Channel for making cuts this month. I agree the timing was poor, coming between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there’s no good time to be let go from your job. What if they had waited until January 3rd after you over spent on Christmas gifts? When you get laid off, fired, cut back, whatever you call it, checking the calendar is not the first thing they do. Beyond the fiscal year being the driver of these firings, I am not even sure the bean counters think about the holidays being around the corner. They never take their faces out of spreadsheets long enough to realize the impact.  The timing is crummy considering the bosses are in the budgeting process in October but credit themselves with holding off on the cuts as long as they can.

All that said, companies are allowed to conduct their businesses as they see fit. Last week I wrote about streaming music and the inability to show a profit for almost anyone in the space. Broadcast companies are not doing a lot better. It might be because of an unrealistic debt burden, albeit one brought on by trying to bite off more than they can chew. It certainly is about the economic problems that America has been mired in for years. No one is willing to stick their neck out and make a financial commitment to advertising because many companies are not sure that they can grow their business in this environment. When automobile advertising went south years ago, the fate of the guys who lost their jobs last week was set.

I know the popular thinking is the guys at the top of the pyramid are raking in millions while the worker bees are stung. I don’t know the hierarchy of Clear Channel; however, I do know a lot of smaller broadcasters where this is not the case. Everyone shares the pain. Perhaps not to the extent of firings every month, but if someone does leave they are not replaced and that impacts those left standing. Agreed, I would rather be one of those guys.

I have a few friends that are now looking for work after last week. I am sad for them. I have been there. You’re first hit with a feeling of, “Could I have done something differently?” This is followed by, “It’s not my fault. They are dumb,” and then, “Am I prepared to uproot my entire life?” Those of us not directly touched by these layoffs have a responsibility to our friends who have been let go. You don’t have to make up the spare room, but be sure you reach out to them and let them know you’re thinking about them and keeping an ear out for something they would be suited for.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)

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