Clear Channel Radio cuts 590 positions

Firm suspends contributions to employees' 401(k) plans

In a second wave of layoffs this year, Clear Channel Radio eliminated 590 positions Tuesday, or just under 3% of its December 2008 staffing level. The cutbacks follow a Jan. 20 purge of 9% of the company's workforce in January. Combined the two rounds amount to approximately 2,500 employees or 11.7% of its staff, according to a Clear Channel spokesperson, and complete a months-long process based on an analysis of the company by Bain Consulting.

While the January cutbacks largely affected the top broadcaster's sales force, the new cuts are focused on operations, including engineering, IT and local accounting and customer service operations. A number of on-air and PD positions were also affected, a result of local PD decisions to replace under-performing dayparts with syndication, voicetracking or offerings from the company's new Premium Choice program.

At corporate headquarters in San Antonio, Clear Channel Radio eliminated a corporate marketing group that included senior VP of marketing Sanda Coyle, senior marketing manager Carmen Delchambre, senior project manager Daniel Castro and marketing coordinator Kimberly Miller.

Early Tuesday morning, Clear Channel Radio employees received an e-mail from the company's retirement benefits department that said as of April 30, 2009, the 401(k) Plan will suspend the current match of 50% of 5% of pay for the balance of 2009.

The note explained that "no match will be made during 2009 after the April 30, 2009, semi-monthly pay-roll. However, if the Company achieves at least 90% of its 2009 budget goals, Clear Channel will retroactively restore matching contributions to the accounts of eligible plan participants for the period of May 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009. If a matching contribution is made, it will be made to all employees who continued to contribute during all or part of the period from May 1, 2009, to December 31, 2009."

Clear Channel Communications will probably decide whether to make the retroactive match shortly after its fourth quarter 2009 earnings are announced.

The company based its decision to review its benefits program on the "highly challenging business environment" and hoped to "balance the significant challenges in the economy with our desire to have a competitive, sustainable benefits program."