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Clear Channel Changes Hit Jocks

Strategy move for smaller markets does not affect technical staff, Davis says

Engineering and IT staff levels at Clear Channel were not affected by this week’s launch of a new programming strategy for smaller markets. That word from Steve Davis, senior VP of engineering & capital management, in response to a query from Radio World.

The company launched a new strategy for improving programming in smaller markets by using assets and resources it says its competitors don’t have. It also announced several appointments to its new National Programming Platforms division.

These changes were accompanied by staff cuts. A New York Times blog reported that Clear Channel had “dismissed dozens of local DJs this week,” affecting small stations from Syracuse, N.Y., to Spokane, Wash., “and raising fresh concerns about the homogenization of radio programming.” It noted that other estimates put the number of layoffs this week in the hundreds.

“The company said the layoffs were not made to cut costs but were part of a revamping of its about 600 regional radio stations,” the Times reported. The rest of the company’s stations are in large markets.

The newspaper quoted company spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg saying, “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.”

“Some of the top on-air talent in the country will conduct custom breaks and produce localized content for each city,” and if anything, she said, content will be more localized, not less. “Just about every station that’s used this strategy has delivered better ratings than the content it replaced, even if the person giving the information isn’t located on-site in that city, because the product is better,” the Times quoted her saying.

Clear Channel recently promoted Robert Pittman to become its chief executive.

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