Dozens of local DJs from small stations from Syracuse, California to Spokane, Washington were dismissed by Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio station operator in the United States. Clear Channel Radio operates about 850 stations in the United States and employs 12,000 people. The company declined to say how many employees were dismissed, but some of the former employees said they believed that the number was in the hundreds. The DJs were not given the opportunity to say goodbye on the air.
The company said the layoffs were part of revamping its nearly 600 regional radio stations. A company spokeswoman, Wendy Goldberg, said, “We’ve completely rethought our regional market strategy and reinvented our operations in those markets in a way that will let us compete on a new level – and succeed using all of Clear Channel’s resources, scale and talent.”
With close to $20 billion in debt, Clear Channel has been attempting to revamp its operations in various ways. One day after the layoffs were announced, the company disclosed that a new national programming operations team would take successful shows and share them with other stations along with developing programs for national broadcast. Ms. Goldberg stated that “Just about every station that’s used this strategy has delivered better ratings than the content it replaced, even if the person giving the information isn’t located on-site in that city, because the product is better.”
Tony Lynn, a local host for country music station KBQI in Albuquerque, said, “I guess it all comes down to the bottom line, and as a small business owner, I understand that. But on the other hand, sometimes it’s more than just a few dollars more. Radio is an intimate medium and that’s what’s being ignored. Listeners develop a special bond with the on-air personalities, and in the long run that proves beneficial for both the station and the advertisers.”