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Thread: Clear Channel tossed 590 more people to the curb

  1. #1
    tim wallick is offline
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    Clear Channel tossed 590 more people to the curb

    the further gutting of radio operations. I suspect others will follow the lead of clear channel while trying to drive down cost.

    whats below is via tom taylor at radioinfo.com

    590 more jobs whacked at Clear Channel, and the hammer fell on programming and back-office.

    Watching the sometimes thermonuclear message boards at Radio-Info.com and checking the volume of emails to me directly was like picking up reports of casualties from bombing raids in a war movie – they just kept coming in waves. The East coat markets hit first, then the Midwest and then the Pacific time zone markets. This T-R-I newsletter is literally not long enough to list all the names contained on the message boards, but I’ll try to give you some sense of the layoffs, a couple of stories down. You already know that it occurred the way T-R-I predicted last week – it happened two weeks after the latest Clear Channel managers meeting in Dallas, and it was mostly programming (on and off air), engineering, I.T., and from what CC calls the “business office” category. Many stations were apparently untouched. At others, you wonder who’s left. It’s all about (say it after me) “the numbers.” Or, as Bain Consulting says – “the metrics.” Some back office functions will now be automated or handled outside the local market, in a fashion that CC believes will catch it up with modern business practices.

    heres a bit more from the recent nab conference that just took place and relates to the ongoing efforts to find and obtain cash across the greater broadcasting sector.

    More from NAB-Las Vegas about the deal market – MVP’s Brian Pryor says “there are three buckets.”

    The broker was busy taking meetings last week and from that experience he distills this analysis - “Bucket #1 is companies who are so far underwater they have no hope of recovering anything. It’s just ‘throw the keys to the lender.’

    Second bucket is, ‘I’m on the margin, I may recover if the market improves, but I’m in default and may or may not have any equity value left. I’m just going to negotiate as hard as I can with lenders, and hang on.

    Third bucket is, ‘I’m actually willing to put more capital into the company, to preserve my equity’ and hang on.” Media Venture Partners’ Pryor says “Bucket #3 is the exception rather than the norm, but there are some of those companies.

    The biggest basket is the second one, where equity negotiates with the debt. They’ll either be in bankruptcy or do it out of court. The companies will emerge with a more reasonable leverage level, and you can expect them to come out at 4-6 times [cash flow]. Then, buying and selling stations can be done strategically” – in other words, what markets do groups want to be in and not want to be in. Brian says “But we’ve got a long way to go before that.”

  2. #2
    tim wallick is offline
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    via gormans media blog

    “I mean, Jesus, John. It’s only 590 people nationwide, including corporate people this time,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. “There’s no need to do a hatchet job on us. This wasn’t an ‘Obama thing,’ not even close.”

    I didn’t realize that January 20, 2009 - the day Clear Channel terminated 1,850 employees, which coincided with Barack Obama’s Presidential inauguration, would be formally referenced by that company as the ‘Obama thing,’ but I digress.

    The voice on the other end of the line belongs to someone whom I promised would remain nameless. He does, in my opinion, represent Clear Channel Communications. He’s paid by Clear Channel and has a high level management position in a market, which I gave my word, would not identify.

    I wasn’t going to explain the math. 1,850 plus 590 equals 2,440. In 101 days Clear Channel eliminated 2,440 jobs from the 900 or so stations it still owns.

    The manager called me because, as he put it, “Some of our clients started reading your thing after it the magazines and newspapers picked up on it – and sometimes they give me crap about the stuff you write.”

    “I’m just asking for you to put everything into context. I mean, everyone is firing everyone these days. Not just us.”

    “I’m going to miss some of those people, for sure,” he added. “Some were good people.” I didn’t ask him whether he was referencing the programming talent or the back office people or both who were unceremoniously let go in the past twenty-four hours. My guess is that he never got too close to any of them. It’s like those kids growing up on the farm faced with the realization that the cute little lamb they used to play with would be tomorrow’s dinner.

    “But, I’ll be honest, you and I should be more concerned about General effing Motors closing between 1,000 and 1,200 dealerships by the end of this year,” he continued. “Do you know how many effing radio and TV spots that are going to just disappear? All that effing revenue lost. That’s the real shame and that’s what you ought to be writing about ‘cause it’s going to end up costing jobs at CBS down the street and Emmis and Citadel and the rest of them.”


    It’s all about point of view.

    True, GM shuttering over a thousand dealerships by year’s end creates a nasty chain of events from even more people than Clear Channel fired on the street looking for work to far less dollars being spent on media in many markets.

    My former programming assistant was among those terminated this morning.

    She’d already been working at the station when the company I was with bought it. I just had an e-mail conversation with her a couple of weeks back. She was proud to say that she’d been with the station – her first major job – for almost twenty years.

    When I read casualty figures of 590 or 1,850 news like this hits harder because we share the same business. Whether it’s a program director, an air personality or one who handles billing – we’re all interconnected.

    Remember when Clear Channel radio CEO John Hogan said he was leaving it up to the program directors to decide whether to go with Premium Choice, their fancy name for voice-tracking and syndication – or stay live and local.

    We now know the identities of the PDs that wanted to stay live and local. They’re the ones who are no longer under the employ of Clear Channel.

    In at least one market, the entire staff was fired in favor of John Hogan’s Premium Choice.

    I have a sounder for new e-mails. It’s been making noise all day. I’ve been on and off the phone three to four times more than usual. I’m hearing from those people you never hear from until they either lost a job or know someone who did and want to vouch for them.

    Where am I going with this? Not far.

    It does make me realize what a shallow company Clear Channel has become. It’s even worse under Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee. Think about it. They tried to orchestrate a positive p.r. fest about Clear Channel in advance of the firings they ordered John “I’m only following orders” Hogan to handle. Too bad they were lousy liars.

    From Scott Sperling on CNBC to the insensitive and transparent Hogan press releases – Clear Channel showed their true color, Yellow.

    These economic times will weed out the weaker chains, stations. Only a quality product will stand the test of time. That doesn’t say much for Clear Channel's future.

    The people who were let go today are not those who destroyed this industry. They were the ones trying to save it, preserve it, and make a living from it.

  3. #3
    homer985 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim wallick View Post
    The people who were let go today are not those who destroyed this industry. They were the ones trying to save it, preserve it, and make a living from it.
    John summed it up perfectly with this line right here... damn shame. I found myself emailing one of my mentors this morning -- he was one of the 590.



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  4. #4
    relmor2003 is offline
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    Wonderful post Tim. You should plaster that all over the SA articles. I have seen many of my favorite local stations ruined by that company. I dont think I could possibly add anything more, you pretty much covered it. Of course, for every loser, their is a winner. And its becoming clearer and clearer the winner is going to be companies like SiriusXM, DirectTV, Comcast...
    Your entertainment will be delivered to you. THere will be no effort, and you will get the best entertainment you want. No longer do you have to listen to crappy commercials to wait to hear the same song you heard 5 minutes ago, from a DJ you never heard of, because every time a raise comes up, or a guy gets popular and wants more money, they just replace him. All Im my very humble opinion of course. I have no real facts to support this, just my personal experience.

  5. #5
    tim wallick is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homer View Post
    John summed it up perfectly with this line right here... damn shame. I found myself emailing one of my mentors this morning -- he was one of the 590.



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    homer

    i think its reaching the point where some stations and groups wont be capable of recovery from the poor management decisions coupled with the related current economic factors. which have left many with little to no room to maneuver from within

    whats truly sad is that America is losing a wonderful art form. at one point i had hope the art form would be major part of the migration to the Internet and some of the talent/people would be saved.

  6. #6
    homer985 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim wallick View Post
    whats truly sad is that America is losing a wonderful art form. at one point i had hope the art form would be major part of the migration to the Internet and some of the talent/people would be saved.
    Tim, don't be so cynical... what I have believed since the passage of the Telecom Bill was that the wave would be cyclical... that the big companies would buy up the smaller ones and Wall St would squeeze every penny out of them that they can -- and then when it's all dried up, they'll sell it back to the mom and pop owners across the country for a fraction of the multiples that they paid for them.

    Then it will be up to the mom and pops to rebuild them... which I believe they can. You can't keep talented people down for long. I know of several local owners who would love to get the opportunity to get back into the game -- but are waiting for the Wall St firms to give up and dump the properties. They then will be standing there with business plans ready to go; will bring back all the talented people who knew what they were doing; and the rebuilding will begin.

    Crazy? Maybe, but I have always believed that the entertainment business is cyclical and will one day return. The old owners and players are still there -- they're just waiting. They'll get their chance. Will it return to what it was in the heydays? Doubtful... but then I wouldn't want that - as who would want Wall St. sniffing around again?

    The business model was never broken... it was abused and bent, but never broken. It will take independent and local owners, workers and thinkers to return it - but I believe it can and will happen.

    The question is when... months? Years? Don't know, but it will. And many of us will be there to do what we do best... and that is to undo the mess that the likes of Randy Michaels, John Hogan, the Mays family and Clear Channel ruined.



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