Radio Giant Clear Channel Cuts Local DJs

Michelle Gray/London Ent/Splash

The company says the move is part of a revamp of about 600 regional stations.

NEW YORK - Clear Channel, the largest U.S. radio station operator, cut dozens of local DJs in smaller markets this week, saying the cuts were part of a broader revamp of its approximately 600 regional radio stations rather than a pure cost cutting move, the New York Times reported.

The company, which employs 12,000, didn't detail how many people were let go, but the Times said that some of the DJs believed the number was in the hundreds. Clear Channel also has 250 stations in large markets, such as New York and Los Angeles.

Given a big pile of debt, Clear Channel has been looking for ways to run its business as efficiently as possible, the paper highlighted.

Critics said the layoffs are the latest step in a strategy that has replaced local programming with cheaper nationally syndicated shows. The move by Clear Channel therefore raised fresh concerns about the homogenization of radio programming, the Times said.

“We’ve completely rethought our regional market strategy and reinvented our operations in those markets in a way that will let us compete on a new level - and succeed using all of Clear Channel’s resources, scale and talent,” a company spokeswoman told the Times.

Clear Channel Radio parent CC Media Holdings recently promoted former AOL and MTV top executive Robert Pittman, making him CEO. He had joined the company in late 2010 as an investor and chairman of entertainment and media platforms.

In Albuquerque, Tony Lynn and Myles Copeland are now the only remaining local live hosts left at Clear Channel's country music station KBQI.

“I guess it all comes down to the bottom line, and as a small business owner, I understand that,” Lynn told the Times. “But on the other hand, sometimes it’s more than just a few dollars more. Radio is an intimate medium and that’s what’s being ignored. Listeners develop a special bond with the on-air personalities, and in the long run that proves beneficial for both the station and the advertisers.”


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