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Clear Channel Job Cuts Take Effect

1,800 employees lose positions; we can expect more voice-tracked programming, WSJ reports

Clear Channel Communications said this week it’s cutting about 9% of its workforce in its radio, corporate and outdoor businesses “to succeed in this unprecedented downturn,” as Chief Executive Mark Mays wrote in a letter to employees.

Mays said cuts represent about 1,850 positions in Clear Channel’s work force and span all departments. A spokesman declined to detail exactly how many workers were laid off, including how many of those were engineers.

Top executives will be taking pay cuts. According to SEC documents CEO Mark Mays and CFO Randall Mays will each see their 2009 base pay cut to $500,000 with no guarantee of a bonus.

The company is behind in its restructuring compared to other radio groups due to its machinations to go private which ended in July 2008. With the cuts, the company is likely to rely more heavily on voice-tracked programming, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the memo, Mays said, “One of the things that has kept Clear Channel strong throughout our history is a willingness to deal with difficult situations in an immediate way — to make the tough decisions today in order to secure a strong future.”

He called the layoffs “difficult,” yet “necessary” decisions. “We will miss those who are departing —even as we renew our shared commitment to success among all of us who will stay.”

Clear Channel has about 800 stations as well as about 164,000 advertising displays and what it calls “a major presence” in 42 U.S. markets.