A new wave of personnel reductions has hit Clear Channel radio stations in small and medium sized markets. As of Wednesday afternoon (October 26) it was unclear just how many people are being cut as part of the reduction, but indications are the numbers could be in the hundreds.
A company spokesperson told Billboard.biz the cuts are part of a new strategy that uses "assets and resources in those markets that their competitors don't have." Most likely those assets refer to what the company calls its "Premium Choice" content; format specific programming that is syndicated to stations on a regional and national basis. Examples include "On the Air with Ryan Seacrest" and "The Big D and Bubba Show," which already air on a number of Clear Channel Top 40 and country stations respectively.
On Thursday morning, Clear Channel announced its new National Programming Team, which will develop "on-air and digital programming content as well as live events for Clear Channel's 850 stations," the company said in a statement.
The spokesperson told Billboard.biz the new strategy was tested prior to widespread implementation. "Just about every station that's used this strategy has delivered better ratings than it did with the programming that it replaced -- our listeners have voted with their time, and we paid attention."
The company also says that, despite reducing the number of personnel at each station, the new programming will serve local listeners and advertisers and will result in, "more localization, not less."
A large part of the commitment to localization will fall to the recently announced group of 45 Regional Market Managers and Regional Programming Managers who are being asked to "focus more on their local brands and engage more with their audiences and local communities."
They will get assistance from some of the company's top on-air talent who will be asked to, "conduct custom breaks and produce localized content for each city."
Today is also the day Clear Channel began merging the assets of its own Total Traffic network with the Metro Networks traffic service the company purchased from Westwood One in April, which has led to a second set of personnel layoffs.
At this point is it unclear just how many people overall have been cut but indications are the numbers could be in the hundreds. The company says it has a policy of not discussing internal staffing matters.
So far only Clear Channel's largest market stations have escaped cutbacks but that may change soon. The company's major market general managers met Wednesday (October 26) in Chicago and could very possibly be headed back to their stations with their own set of reductions to implement.
On the heels of these layoffs comes news of more cuts at Cumulus Broadcasting, specifically at Los Angeles station KLOS.