Clear Channel Cuts Aftermath, Second Time Around

As with the last time radio giant Clear Channel cut large numbers of employees in a one day sweep, we’re still dealing with the aftermath in day two.

First, the big picture, courtesy of our friends at AllAccess:

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CLEAR CHANNEL has announced another major wave of staff reductions resulting in the loss of 590 positions, just over 3% of the company, focusing on positions in programming, on-air, engineering, information technology and business office posts such as accounting and customer service.

While on-air programming is part of this reduction, it’s not the majority of it, even though they are the majority of names we have that are out. Those positions will be filled with a combination of syndication and premium choice programming.

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(More on that last part, later in this item. But first, more from AllAccess:)

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CLEAR CHANNEL is indicating that this downsizing should be it, but adds the caveat that it can’t predict the future. Based on analysis, and if the economy and market conditions hold and CLEAR CHANNEL keeps outperforming the rest of the industry, any further large reductions in force are not anticipated.

A company-wide change announced in parallel is that after APRIL 30th, 401k matching would be suspended for this year. It will, however, be retroactively restored if 90% of the 2009 budget goals are met for employees who continue to contribute to the 401k plan, and are eligible.

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This latest job reduction wave has been rumored since January, when Clear Channel cleared their employee rosters of some 1,850 workers – many in sales and marketing, with cuts in the dozens at big operations like the company’s Cleveland cluster on Oak Tree Boulevard in Independence.

Locally, let’s run through some of the reporting about cuts in Northeast Ohio, and other effects.

Now-former WTAM staffers Paul Rado and Marty Allen showed up on WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5” Tuesday, keeping their sense of humor intact by holding up these signs pictured: “WILL WORK FOR FOOD”/”WE MEAN A LOT OF FOOD”. (Photo courtesy: NewsNet5.com)

Quoting:

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Allen and Rado lost their jobs Monday afternoon, just hours after their show grabbed another No. 1 spot in the ratings book.

“They said, ‘You’re No, 1, congratulations,’ at 11 a.m. At 5:15, they said, ‘Your services are no longer needed. Have a nice day. There’s the elevator,'” said Allen.

The two are longtime producers and sidekicks of radio host Mike Trivisonno, whom they said they’ve not heard from since the firings.

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We’re not sure why Clear Channel felt the need to dump Rado and Allen in mid-show one day before just about anyone else nationwide in the company was let go, though we have our guesses. We have no solid information, so we’ll pass on elaborating on this, for now. The timing seems very, very odd to us.

UPDATE 4/29/09 9:35 AM: Rereading this item, we see below that WMVX’s “Brian and Joe” were called on Monday afternoon and told “not to report for their show Tuesday”, according to the PD’s Julie Washington. We hear from our sources at Oak Tree that the official firings of the WMVX pair took place at about 7:30 on Tuesday morning, though they certainly could have guessed something was coming down after the Monday call.

WTAM’s Allen and Rado were the first to actually get their proverbial (and real) walking papers at Oak Tree, as reported, in the middle of Triv’s Monday show.

We’re also not surprised they haven’t heard from Trivisonno.

The WTAM afternoon driver did not mention the dismissal of his two long-time colleagues – Marty Allen has been with Triv since literally his start at 1100, and before (at WERE/WNCX). Rado has been there in TrivLand a long chunk of that time as well.

Through other job cuts, through other show cast members, uh, being shown the door one way or the other…(yeah, that’s it, “shown the door”)…Allen and Rado remained at Triv’s side. Until this week, when they were removed.

The only on-air sign of their exit – that we heard – came in the first half hour of Triv’s Tuesday show…when a caller asked about it.

Triv tried to deflect the caller, shouting out that he hadn’t smoked in a year and a half, and finally…in a VERY quick reply, confirmed Allen and Rado were no longer with the show (“they’re both gone”, in a low voice).

The terse reply was only a couple of words longer than “no comment”, and when the caller tried to invoke the name of President Obama, Triv quickly replied that “the president had nothing to do with this”, and moved on. Quickly.

In the first day of Triv Without Rado And Big Daddy, he pulled others onto the air, including board operator “Dirty Kurt”, and WTAM Browns beat reporter Andre Knott. We’re not sure if that’ll be a regular strategy, as Triv was no stranger to putting non-show members/other WTAM staffers on the air even when his now-former producers were in the mix.

The “NewsChannel 5” piece quotes an unnamed Clear Channel executive as confirming the departures, including those of WMVX/106.5 morning drivers Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer.

Over at the Plain Dealer, our search team found this item on Cleveland.com by PD media columnist Julie Washington:

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Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer, the longtime morning duo at Clear Channel’s “Mix” WMVX FM/106.5, were contacted Monday afternoon and told not to report for their show Tuesday, Cronauer said.

Instead, the team attended a meeting where they were told they were being laid off.

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And of the other pair no longer working at Oak Tree:

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(Marty) Allen said he and Rado were pulled out of Monday afternoon’s show on WTAM AM/ 1100 and told that they were being let go. Trivisonno finished the show alone, Allen said.

Trivisonno briefly acknowledged that Allen and Rado were off the show in response to callers’ questions during Tuesday’s show, which is heard from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays.

“No, they’re both gone,” was all he said to the first caller about 3:25 p.m. A little after 4 p.m. a woman called and asked if he was allowed to talk about it. He replied it was an internal business matter.

Trivisonno did not return calls from The Plain Dealer asking for comment.

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Again, no surprise here.

All of the former Clear Channel personalities are itching to get back on the air, according to the article:

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After years spent producing shows by most of Cleveland’s prominent broadcasters, Allen said he’s ready to develop his own radio show.

Cronauer said he and Fowler hope to be back on Cleveland’s airwaves.

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Moving onto other updates and clarifications:

CLEVELAND: OMW hears, and Radio & Records confirms in their list of cuts, that Brian and Joe will be replaced on WMVX by a show hosted by one (Sean) Valentine, being fed from Clear Channel sister hot AC KBIG/104.3 “My 104.3” in Los Angeles.

Yes, that Valentine, who, using only his last name as “Valentine in the Morning”, was the original morning drive voicetracked show on WMVX top 40 sister station WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM” – going back to “Kiss”‘s days at 104.9 (now classical WCLV).

Valentine lasted at “Kiss” in Cleveland until very recently, when he was replaced by the live syndicated show headed up by WHTZ/100.3 “Z100” morning star Elvis Duran out of New York City…

TOLEDO: To amend our list, OMW hears that top 40 WVKS/92.5 “Kiss FM”‘s “Boomer” will retain his music director duties when he moves to afternoon drive, but won’t be programming the station in the wake of the departure of PD Nathan Reed.

And Radio & Records has this as well, in their list:

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MD/night jock Boomer moves to afternoons (and retains his MD duties), and his former night shift will now be voice-tracked Pyke, afternoon jock on rock sister WIOT. Reed can be reached at 810-444-2571 or nathansr328@gmail.com. FYI: director of programming ops Bill Michaels will retake the reins of his former longtime station, WVKS TFN.

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UPDATE 4/29/09 9:45 AM: OMW hears that Boomer had indeed been announced within the Superior Street building as the new “Kiss” PD earlier Tuesday, but that apparently was adjusted later…

YOUNGSTOWN: It’s now “out there” – a name rumored on the cut list at South Avenue is being reported in the local TV news world. And it’s a “wow” moment.

How about a 40 year station veteran, a man almost singularly identified with your news department, being shown the door?

From NBC affiliate WFMJ/21’s website:

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Another round of job cuts at Clear Channel radio stations including an on-air personality who has been a voice at 570 WKBN Radio for 40 years.

John Nagy was cut after four decades of service, along with Dan Gonder who has 19-years on the job. Sean Stevens and Lorraine Hall were also told it was their last day. A total of five people were let go.

General Manager Bill Kelly tells 21 News it is part of a corporate wide reduction in force due to the state of the economy

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We hear that Clear Channel Youngstown TV news partner (and former sister station) WKBN/27 is also reporting the cuts, though we can’t find the item on its website.

One reason for Nagy’s exit may be apparent: Newsrooms at Clear Channel clusters in some Ohio markets will expand their duties providing remote newscasts for other markets, under a wide ranging nationwide Clear Channel plan that’s being implemented starting this week.

OMW hears that among the expansions and changes, Clear Channel’s Cleveland newsroom will once again return to providing news updates for Clear Channel’s Youngstown stations – an arrangement which was pushed aside a while back.

We’ll have more on the news end of these Clear Channel changes later, including a list of which markets get fed from where…

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