Radio stations in small and medium media markets across the nation are being forced to lay off D.J.’s, according to Spin. Clear Channel Radio, the largest radio conglomerate in the country, has laid off what is speculated to be hundreds of D.J.’s from small stations ranging from Syracuse to Spokane, Washington, though the company refuses to release the actual number of layoffs, the New York Times reports.
Clear Channel Radio operates about 850 radio stations in the United States, with 600 being in the small/medium market range affected by the lay offs and the other 250 being in the as-of-yet unaffected larger markets such as New York and Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the downsizing does not end there. Cumulus Media has also laid off up to 27 radio personnel from two popular L.A. stations, including Jim Ladd, the inspiration for Tom Petty’s 2002 hit “The Last D.J.”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“And there goes your freedom of choice/ There goes the last human voice”, Petty sings in the song, which is about a D.J. so frustrated with his lack of freedom that he relocates to Mexico to get it back.
The layoffs, which happened a month after Clear Channel named Robert Pittman as its CEO, only further cement the fear shared by many in the industry of diminishing radio diversity by removing local D.J.’s and replacing them with less expensive, nationally syndicated shows, such as “On Air With Ryan Seacrest”.
The move is being hailed by Clear Channel, which is $20 million in debt as it is, as a new marketing strategy, not a cost saving device.
“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,” Wendy Goldberg, a company spokeswoman, said.
D.J.’s such as Tony Lynn, one of two last remaining D.J.’s at KBQI in Albuquerque, (until the lay offs, that is), see the cuts in a different light, however.
“I guess it all comes down to the bottom line, and as a small business owner, I understand that,” Mr. Lynn said to the New York 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.”