Clear Channel Firings = Loss of Local Radio?

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Clear Channel Firing Timeline

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
By Jerry Del Colliano

It’s hard to know exactly when the bomb will be detonated but there are indications of how and when the massive firings I reported weeks ago will occur.

Here are some circumstances that may help to predict the onset of the firings:

1. No firings in this round, at least, will occur without regional managers getting their shooting orders from Radio President John Hogan. So if you’re in a market where your regional has not received the dreaded flash drive from Hogan, you have several more weeks to work on your resume and become familiar with your state’s unemployment laws.

2. The elapsed time between when a Regional Market Manager gets his or her flash drive and initiates the firings could be two to four weeks. It is unlikely that firings in this round would begin later than one month after an RMM gets their flash drive. Again, the flash drive has corporate targets and expectations for regional honchos to consider where they can cut costs.

3. If you’re in programming, consider yourself three times as likely to come under the gun than someone in a non-programming position. Keep in mind that this is my estimate based on what I am hearing on the ground within Clear Channel.

4. Most if not all of the Clear Channel firings for 2011 will be completed by the beginning of December. They will likely avoid the holiday and New Years firings that rival Cumulus customarily conducts. As massive as this round of cost reductions are, it is not the last and maybe not even be the biggest. I will address this in future updates.

5. Managers are safe for the most part, but they are going to face a challenge of their own that they may not see coming. Clear Channel is not just firing on-air people; it is creating a company that has minimal management structure and virtually no costs compared to stations that are operating today.

Notice how you have not heard a word out of new CEO Bob Pittman’s mouth lately.

He’s booked speeches for the Country Radio Seminar and an Arbitron event but he’s mum on the dirty work that henchman Hogan is carrying out – some say, even enjoying.

Pittman’s job is Spinmeister-in-Chief.

You’ll soon hear another dramatic announcement about that little app he thinks is an Internet initiative called iHeartRadio.

The plan is to make local radio not much different from an app.

Cheap programming – but instead of streaming it online, it is broadcast on-air.

Then mix it in with customizable radio – not exactly a hit in and of itself – and you’ve got what seems to investors to be the future of radio.

What it really is is the end of local radio.

Today, one of the largest purges of local radio talent commences and nobody is home to stop it.

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