I work in the same building as all of the Clear Channel radio stations (AM640 WGST, 96 Rock, Peach 94.9, Viva, etc). A few weeks ago they fired the morning DJs on 96Rock and a week or so later they flat out changed the format of the station, jettisoning its name and re-badging it as “Project 9-6-1“, a faceless jukebox station with no local flavor.
What happened over at 96Rock was just a warmup though!
The other shoe dropped yesterday.
Clear Channel fired AM640 WGST’s longtime morning host Tom Hughes, as well as Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson and most all of their other daytime DJ’s. They’re consolidating back toward a handful of syndicated shows out of cities up north, with very little Atlanta programming whatsoever.
This is happening at their other stations around the country.
I’d read about the controversy surrounding Clear Channel’s growing monopoly and shrinking concern for local programming, and I’ve seen the Frontline special on PBS on how small homegrown radio stations in New Orleans took care of the city when Clear Channel wouldn’t, but I never expected this to happen in a market the size of Atlanta. I have no idea why I though we’d be immune.
I don’t know if this is a direct result of the competition between satellite radio and traditional terrestrial radio but it’s very troubling to see a sea change of this magnitude with no explanation, executed in the cool, clinical style of corporate dismissals; fans of the shows denied any sort of closure with the hosts of the programs.
Without a doubt this is tied to the recent $18.7 Billion acquisition of Clear Channel Communications by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC whose regulatory filing assured the FCC that they didn’t “expect any senior management changes or significant layoffs.”
While the deal is expected to take as long as a year to gain approval and selloffs of smaller stations is anticipated, I suspect that Clear Channel has agreed to make the way easier for the investors with pre-approval broom-outs of stations like WGST and 96Rock.
If you’re an on-air talent at a Clear Channel station anywhere in the United States I’d start talking to your colleagues in other markets because you may have the potential for one Mother of a class action lawsuit if any of these firings is in any way illegal. The firing of the 96Rock DJs is beginning to look pretty fishy in the light of these new happenings. I smell setup.
Meanwhile, back at the dial, the rest of us have to figure out what we’re going to do with shrinking coverage of our local markets from terrestrial radio. Our big rush to satellite radio has painted us into a tricky corner.
[tags]clear channel communications, clear channel, clear, channel, 96rock, larry, eric, regularguys, regular, guys, kimmer, kim peterson, tom hughes, radio, fired, FCC, monopoly, sale, investors, lawsuit[/tags]