Clear Channel Radio, the nation’s largest broadcast radio group, has dismissed a large (but undisclosed) number of DJs from radio stations in small and mid-sized markets across the country. The move is widely seen as a prelude to implementing more automated or national syndicated programming.
Although the company will not discuss personnel changes, estimates of the number of Clear Channel personnel let go range from “dozens” to “hundreds.” As part of the general reorganization, Clear Channel Radio is combining Metro Networks Traffic, acquired from Westwood One in April, with its own Total Traffic Network.
Clear Channel also announced a host of new appointments to its new national programming platforms division, suggesting the company intends to exert greater, centralized control over local station programming. These appointments include Dennis Clark, vice president, talent development; Guy Zapoleon, vice president, digital music programming; Zena Burns, vice president, digital programming Platforms; Darren Pfeffer, vice president, music and entertainment marketing; and Alissa Pollack, executive vice president, integrated music marketing.
These moves come less than a month after the appointment of Bob Pittman as CEO of CC Media Holdings, and the subsequent appointment of Brian Lakamp as president of Clear Channel Digital. They also come amid a major strategic reorganization as Clear Channel Radio and Clear Channel Outdoor transition to new digital platforms.
On the radio side, the focus is on CCR's new “iHeartRadio” digital platform.
The new iHeartRadio platform is the product of integration with Thumbplay, acquired by Clear Channel in March of this year. CCR is positioning iHeartRadio as a free alternative to Pandora by offering music on demand, custom stations and new listening suggestions based on their preferences.
The company was adamant in public statements that the layoffs are not intended as cost-cutting measures. Still, parent company Clear Channel Communications carries a very large -- and possibly unserviceable -- amount of debt: $18 billion, most of which was assumed as part of a deal to buy out shareholders and take the company private at the height of the credit bubble in 2007.