Massive changes may be coming to some of your favorite Twin Cities radio stations.
Clear Channel is the country’s largest radio company and several industry publications are reporting that at a market market general manager meeting today, the company will announce a plan to institute massive layoffs at nearly all of their stations.
According to Inside Music Media, the layoffs may result in the shedding of nearly all of the various station program directors and most of the local on-air personalities. In their place will be a primarily national programming system called “Premium Choice” that leaves most local stations as nothing more than automated outlets for the national programming.
John Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Clear Channel Radio spoke with TimeOut Chicago media reporter Robert Feder on Tuesday, and he declined to offer any specifics on the plan.
“We have an incredible array of offerings for advertisers starting with iHeartRadio [digital service] and Clear Channel’s unique ability to provide national reach and local activation for advertisers,” he told Feder “We’ll be working with our market managers and DOS (sales managers) as well as ops managers (programmers) to share with them our latest and greatest advertiser opportunities.”
Small and medium market Clear Channel general managers had a similar meeting in Atlanta on October 11, and each manager was handed a flash drive containing hour-by-hour performance evaluations of the station. Along with a series of “reduction in force” requests that were slated to begin today.
Radio industry blog FMQB is reporting a number of layoffs in markets including Little Rock, Wichita, Dayton, Salt Lake City, Sarasota and Tallahassee.
An unidentified Clear Channel spokesperson told FMQB that the layoffs were part of a restructuring of the company.
“We looked at all our regional market stations with a fresh eye to determine how we could respond to the challenges of the marketplace and deliver a much better product to listeners than we have in the past — and better than our competitors can provide. With this new strategy, we’ll also generate higher ratings for our advertisers and marketing partners and give our best people bigger roles.”
Local Clear Channel officials have declined to comment on the reports, with one executive who asked not to be identified telling me that “this is not the time to be talking to the press.”
Clear Channel owns six radio stations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul media market. They include AM stations KTCN (1130) and KFAN (1270). They also own four FM stations: adult alternative station KTCZ (Cities 97), oldies station KQQL (KOOL 108), sports talk KFXN (KFAN 100.3), adult Contemporary station KDWB (101.3) and country station KEEY (K102).
Clear Channel owns two radio stations in the Rochester media market: AM sports-talk KFAN (1270) and FM classic rock station KRCH (Laser 101.7)
UPDATE: All Access has put together a partial list of today’s layoffs at Clear Channel, and the list is more than a hundred and growing. The industry blog notes that no one knows the exact number, but it’s rumored to be in the “hundreds” nationwide.
UPDATE #2: Major markets such as Minneapolis have not yet been impacted, although an off-air employee of one local Clear Channel station told me that “everyone is waiting to hear how bad it will be.”
UPDATE #3: It’s important to note that this is not the first severe round of layoffs at Clear Channel. The company had two rounds of cutbacks in 2009. The first, in January, shed the company of about 1,800 employees at all levels. Another 590 were pink-slipped in April of the same year. Not all of those personnel were in the radio division, but the majority of the cuts did focus on that part of Clear Channel’s business.