The Clear Channel Aftermath
December 7, 2012 6 Comments
We should be used to this by now, but you never get used to hundreds of broadcast professionals getting tossed out of their radio studios for Christmas.
Or any other time, really.
In what’s become a very sad tradition around this time of year, broadcast giant Clear Channel Media+Entertainment+Pork Rinds looked at its staffing levels in markets across the nation and said, “oh, we can do without these people” as the year comes to a close. (And really, anymore, we’re only half kidding about the “Pork Rinds”.)
But the job cuts were shocking here in Ohio.The radio artist known only as “Kasper” had been a mainstay, a force at Clear Channel’s Cleveland top 40 outlet, WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM”.
After a brief stint at the company’s Philadelphia top 40 outlet WIOQ “Q102”, Kasper (who was still voicetracking back to Cleveland) came back to Oak Tree, and not only returned live to “96.5 Kiss FM”‘s afternoon shift, but took assistant program director and music director stripes as well.
That move felt all the more important because WAKS fell under the oversight, programming-wise, of rock/talk WMMS/100.7 program director Bo Matthews. Kasper was a steady hand to help Matthews keep an eye on his second station.
And though we don’t have the numbers to back it up, as far as we know, Kasper’s afternoon drive show was quite popular in the appropriate demos.
Success apparently isn’t enough to save you from the job cut ax anymore, particularly if bean counters feel that assistant program directors are too much of an expense.Though we don’t really cover Columbus these days, John Crenshaw is a long-time OMW reader.
He has extensive ties to Northeast Ohio, as the Edinburg native (“halfway between Akron and Youngstown”) worked extensively in all decent size Northeast Ohio markets before coming to Columbus. (You may have known him as “Big Dave” or some variant up here.)
“Big Dave” became Johnboy Crenshaw (JbC) and eventually rose within the hierarchy of Clear Channel Columbus to become operations manager of the entire cluster until last year, when changes landed him as the program director of country giant WCOL/92.3.
We don’t say “giant” lightly.
A quick look at ratings we can’t directly quote here shows WCOL at the top of the most recent PPM numbers in Columbus (6-plus), a position WCOL has frequently occupied in Central Ohio.
Dominant might not be strong enough a word to describe WCOL’s success…it’s one of the most successful large market country outlets in the nation.
Again, as in the case of fellow OMW reader Kasper, success apparently isn’t enough to save your job when the bean counters are calling the shots.
Sure, we’ve said that before, as have others, when large broadcast companies feel the need to cut a few hundred (or thousand!) employees all at once.
But not only is it the end of the year…Clear Channel is in a financial squeeze.
Owned by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, a recent financial report says the company has to deal with over $10 billion in debt.
MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE has issued a report that CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS is facing a stiff challenge in managing the more than $10 billion of debt that will come due in 2016. They write that the company may be forced into a restructuring of its balance sheet.
Tom Taylor, the respected radio industry reporter now putting out the excellent “Tom Taylor Now” E-mail newsletter, notes that Bain and THL may not own Clear Channel by that 2016 date anyway, since they’ve already held the company much longer than such equity firms usually stay in place.
But while the two private equity concerns still own Clear Channel, the bottom line is still foremost…and the company is likely moving towards even more direct syndication (Ryan Seacrest, its stable of Premiere talk stars, and more) and less local programming.Out in this week’s cuts was one Rich Minaya, afternoon drive host at Clear Channel’s Miami talker, WIOD/610-and-FM-translator.
If you’ve been around Northeast Ohio and listening to talk radio for a long time, you might have heard Rich on the old WWWE/1100 “3WE”…but he was known as Rich Michaels when he hosted the mid-morning shift at 3WE.
The Miami station is advertising for “its next spoken word star” to replace Minaya.
If the Horseshoe Casino had a Radio Betting Window, we’d almost bet that the “local” host on WIOD will be Compass Media Networks’ Todd Schnitt, whose “Schnitt Show” has been based at sister talker WFLA/970 Tampa. The Tampa station stops airing him later this month.
Schnitt actually started his afternoon talk show on WIOD, while still back in Tampa doing morning drive on WFLA’s sister top 40 outlet WFLZ as “MJ Kelli” (his original job there). WFLA picked up the talk show later.
Schnitt, by the way, is heard weeknights from 10 PM until 1 AM on Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 in Akron.
Speaking of that station, this round of cuts appears to have concentrated on major and large market stations.
But it would be no surprise if another round of job cuts in the future visited Akron, Canton, Youngstown, and the like.
There was a side effect of the cuts in Youngstown.
Kasper was voicetracking afternoon drive on the company’s WAKZ/95.9 “Kiss FM” in his former home market, competing against his former radio home, now-Cumulus top 40 WHOT/101.1 “Hot 101”.
Another victim of this week’s Clear Channel budget cuts, “Flick”, was voicetracking nights on the Youngstown market “Kiss FM” outlet from the company’s “Kiss” outlet in Pittsburgh…where he was assistant program director/music director/afternoon drive host. He had originally worked at South Avenue as “95.9 Kiss FM”s night jock.
“Dave and Jimmy” in morning drive, Ryan Seacrest all day, anyone?
Whoever ends up in WAKZ’s afternoon drive shift probably won’t have the extensive knowledge and background Kasper had…of his hometown…